Children walking through the hall with gloomy faces in expectance of things to come, the copiers are running busily and teachers muster up nervous smiles. All these are signs of an upcoming open house or parent teacher conference day.
In order to get through this big day smoothly and painlessly mind your five P’s (prior preparation prevents poor performance). Just as you expect your students to continually study instead of just studying before a test, you should be preparing for the visit of your most valuable allies throughout the year.
Keep the guardians informed about assignments and materials covered as well as their child’s progress. In doing so anything you have to tell them will not come as a complete surprise. The parent can also prepare questions much better to make this meeting as productive for the student as possible.
Have a folder with graded work as well as artwork, crafts and such ready for each pupil. Sorting the folders by alphabet helps finding them quicker. In stress situations our brain plays tricks on us and lets us forget simple things like which class a certain child is in. Stack the folders neatly, so the parent can see how organized you are.
Use sticky tabs on the folders with notes of your concerns about the particular student., after all this day is not just to inform the parent but also for you to learn about your student in efforts to give him or her the best education possible. The questions you ask will also show how much you care about each student individually.
Take care to point out positive traits in students along with the problem areas. Be prepared to suggest helpful ways to improve on things lacking and to reinforce and build on the strong suits.
Hand out appointments several days in advance and ask parents to acknowledge and confirm or cancel said appointment. This will make your struggle to juggle your time easier and more efficient. If you prepared your parents well you shouldn’t need more than 15 minutes per visitor. It will also allow you to find alternative ways to get together with the guardians that cannot make this particular date.
Above all constantly remind yourself that parents are educators like you even if in another format. They are allies not enemies with a common goal, the best education possible for their children. When you think you hear accusations, understand the questions behind their behavior.
With above preparations you should be all set for that first open house. Instead of the forced nervous smile that screams fear you will be able to boast and open honest smile that will win the heart of even the maddest parent. Good Luck!