Engage Your Students and Parents Before School Even Starts
Part 1 of the Blog Series: SETTING UP FOR BACK-TO-SCHOOL SUCCESS
How do you relieve students’ and parents’ apprehensions about the first day of school in such a fun and engaging way that they cannot wait to start school? A Meet the Teacher Day!!! We have had Meet the Teacher Days for the past several years. Last year, we even did it virtually. During a Meet the Teacher Day, we invite students and their adults to come see their new classroom, to meet their new teacher, and to do a few fun activities. We also pass out any forms that need completed or would normally be sent on the first day of school. We have found that having a Meet the Teacher Day makes such a difference on how comfortable the students feel on the first day of school because the room and their teacher is familiar to them. The kids are much more excited to come to school and are definitely less anxious. We haven’t had a crier or a runner in years. Our whole goal of doing a Meet the Teacher is to reduce the stress of starting school (maybe for the first time ever) and to build excitement for the students and the parents.
Getting ready for the beginning of school can be SO overwhelming since there are so many different tasks that have to be done. We would like to take one thing off your plate, Meet the Teacher Day! We have created three different themed Meet the Teacher Days that we have done in our own classroom. The BEST part is that they are already planned and created for you! That is one less thing for you to do. Click the images below to check them out!
You can also create your own Meet the Teacher to customize it for your students and your favorite theme by following the steps and tips in this blog post. This post will cover a typical Meet the Teacher Day; however, please see the notes at the end for ways to do this virtually or following social distancing and safety protocols
Easy Steps to Create a Meet the Teacher Day
What to Do Before the Meet the Teacher Day:
- Schedule a date for the Meet the Teacher Day two to three days prior to school starting.
- Choose a time frame ( 45 to 60 minutes is usually plenty of time).
- Mail invitations to students.
- Invite anyone else you would like to attend (admin, specials teachers, translator if needed, PTA president, etc.).
- Choose a theme if you would like (superheroes, pirate, safari, western round up, carnival, making new friends, etc.) or keep it generic.
- Gather necessary forms that need completed (classroom, school, and district). We put everything in a folder with each student’s name on it and hand it to the student’s adult as he or she arrives.
- Choose and prepare activities the students will do (see ideas below), and how they will be set up through out the space to allow for plenty of room and workspace for students and adults to participate.
- Create and prep a take home treat and/or Night Before School Jitter Glitter or Back to School Confetti.
- Create a map or scavenger hunt to direct students to the places and activities you want them to see and/or participate in.
- Decorate your room to match your theme if you would like.
- Set up the activity stations.
What to Do During the Meet the Teacher Day:
- Greet the students at the door, introduce yourself, explain the day, give them the map or scavenger hunt, and hand the adult any forms and tell them when to fill them out and where to put them when they are completed.
- Roam around the room, encourage students to try all the activities and answer any questions.
- Give students and adults a reminder when there is about 10 minutes left.
- Pass out treat if giving one and/or Night Before School Jitter Glitter or Back to School Confetti.
What to Do After the Meet the Teacher Day;
- Bask in the glory of having a successful Meet the Teacher and collapse in the nearest comfortable spot.
Additional Tips and Tricks for a Successful Meet the Teacher:
- If you would like smaller groups of students at one time, spread out the invitation times over a longer block of time.
- Students do not need to do all activities.
- Preprint two or three sticky notes with each student’s name on them for their adults to use to answer questions such as “How do you go home?” or ”Lunch from school or lunch from home?” Create a simple table on chart paper or on the whiteboard with each question and the answer choices. The adult then can put the sticky note under the correct response.
- Stagger the Meet the Teacher times or days with your grade level team, so that you can help each other out during the event.
- Have students start at different activities.
- Make several different scavenger hunts or maps with a different order, so that students will not all be at the same places at the same time.
- Create Google Forms instead of paper forms for the adults to complete when possible.
- Have a translator available if needed.
Ideas for a Socially Distanced Meet the Teacher:
- Invite a few students (as many as possible and still maintain social distancing) to attend a at time.
- Set up enough stations so that only one student will be at a station at a time.
- Have some stations outdoors if possible.
- Have paper activities in a folder for each child that they take from activity to activity and individual supplies in baggies for each student at each station.
- Include safety protocols that will be in place on the invitation, so adults and students will be prepared.
Ideas for a Virtual Meet the Teacher
- Do a Drive-through Meet the Teacher.
- We invited students and their families to drive though in front of our school during a two-hour window in the evening. Each teacher would greet their students (the students stayed in their cars) following all safety protocols.
- We always do everything with a theme, so we even made t-shirts that we wore, had matching themed masks, decorated the best we could, and had music playing.
- We created fun boxes that matched our theme for each student that had all of their supplies and learning materials in them for the next few weeks. They also had all of the school and district forms and informational handouts in them. We gave them to the students as we met them.
- We kept track of who attended and did a porch drop off for those students who couldn’t attend the next day.
- Make as many forms as possible using Google Forms.
- Meet with students and families one family at a time using Zoom, Google Meets, etc.
Activity Station Ideas:
- Pattern blocks with or without pattern block cards (themed or generic).
- Roll and Color activity sheet or other fun, simple activity. Click HERE to grab a Roll and Color FREEBIE.
- Area (shelf, bin, treasure box, etc.) set up with fun or themed picture books.
- QR code that takes them to a a read aloud, video, or game that they can use with available classroom technology.
- Activity sheet where they write their name and draw a picture of themselves.
- Engineering challenge where they need to build the tallest tower that will hold an object (very small stuffed animal, a fun eraser, a picture of something on a binder clip to make it stand up, a ping pong ball, etc.) out of the materials provided (for example, craft sticks, index cards, wooden clothes pins).
- Simple craft like a hat or refrigerator magnet where they can cut and glue, just color, or do all three if you are brave.
- “Photo booth” with a background and props.
- Outside activity like sidewalk chalk or painting with water and paint brushes.
- Geoboards with or without pattern cards to follow.
- Tangrams with or without pattern cards to follow.
Scavenger Hunt or Map Location Ideas:
- Individual cubbies
- Class library
- Desk or table spot if using assigned seating
- Drinking fountain
- Each station (if you have room)
You can see pictures of our Pirate Meet the Teacher Day we did a few years ago HERE, and previews of all our Meet the Teacher resources by clicking on the following images. If you have any questions or want to share pictures of your own Meet the Teacher Day, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out our next blog post in our Blog Series: SETTING UP FOR BACK-TO-SCHOOL SUCCESS. It is all about hosting a Back-to School Informational Meeting. It includes an EDITABLE presentation template FREEBIE you can customize for your own meeting. Click HERE to read it.