So many teachers last year were sharing their desire to replicate what happens in their class for the family members visiting during Back to School Night.
Some teachers were having families hear about the class from their students via FlipGrid (brilliant!) and parents learned to respond. Others shared an activity or routine that’s a staple in their classroom.
Since I had transformed my classroom and my teaching, I wanted to have families really see what comes from a year of working as a team. But how, since my new students still weren’t completely comfortable with the changes they were experiencing?
I “hired” my previous students and “paid” them with community service hours. To me, this is a perfect use of community service hours since they would be communicating to the members of their community the benefits of a low- / no-stress ELA experience. I also provided them with a list of topics for their station to make sure they were communicating (at least) the necessary points.
If you’d like to have the planning spreadsheet and the station topics' list the speakers and station visitors referred to during their discussions, please click here.
Families would surely have questions and I believed they would benefit from hearing the opinions of the students who were originally skeptical of the changes, too. I implored students to be honest and they were, but I do also believe they were positive about the course, my teaching, and our minimal policies.
Another problem: we had only 10 minutes per BTSN class. We had four stations at 2 minutes each and I said “hello” or “goodbye” to each family. (This was a tight schedule and this year, I’ll try 3 stations, instead.)
In addition to the station speakers, we also had a few students to greet families and explain what was happening; from now on, I’ll share an email with a description, the purpose, and some pictures. One student was the timekeeper and would signal to station speakers when it was time to finish up and send families to the next one. My new students participated by entertaining young family members with some markers and paper.
How'd it go?
Overall, it was a success. 99% of families loved it and were impressed by the students’ professionalism and ability to eloquently communicate their reflections. I appreciated the change, too, because it better reflects my teaching style and my educational philosophy.
If you decide to host a student-centered Back to School Night, please share your plans, pictures, and reflections using the #UnlimitedTeacher hashtag.