Meet the teacher, or back to school night, is one of the biggest, most anticipated nights of the year. Kids are excited to meet their new teacher, see their new room, and us educators are just as delighted to meet our new group of students. It is a time to get to know families and begin to build connections.
Now, I don’t know about you, but when thinking about all of these big important things, I tend to get a bit overwhelmed. You want things to be clean, orderly and all put together, you want families and especially students to feel welcome, and of course you want it to run smoothly. It’s a lot of pressure and if you’re like me and need some assistance in helping everything go well, I have some secrets for you! These easy and simple hacks make this a night to remember and your job an absolute breeze!!
Read on to learn all the ingredients to my secret sauce to make Back to School Night the best EVER for this year AND every year to follow! So drop that anxiety at the door and get ready for ALL the juicy secrets! You don’t want to miss number two and secret number eight is the most important one! Don’t forget to save this for later and share with a teacher buddy who wants to crush Meet the Teacher Night with you.
#1: Prep Ahead of Time
Secret number one is to prep ahead of time. One of the things that I’ve found helps most with the stress level during this day is the organization, the game plan, and the prep that goes into the day. Prep is the key because without it, your organization and game plan will derail. In doing this ahead of time, this means anything I want to hand out throughout the night or need families to complete, is printed, prepped, and DONE so I don’t have to scramble. Here some things I like to prep ahead of time:
-student info folders
-sign in and other sheets for families
-bins for supplies
-slides or newsletter
-plan for atmosphere (music, lights, etc)
#2 : Give Families a Task
Secret number two is one I said you don’t want to miss because it is a GAME CHANGER. Give families a task so you can be free! I LOVE having families go on a scavenger hunt of the room because this helps for a few reasons. One, they can begin to become familiar with their space and learn about important areas of the room. Two, it gives the families something to do while you mingle and get acquainted with everyone there. Everyone feels productive and it alleviates awkward feelings of “what do I do next?”
Even better than a scavenger hunt, I’ve found a way to keep everyone busy, provide opportunities for everyone to get to know each other and their room, all while having a TON of fun. A few years back I switched to a station model for Meet the Teacher and I’ll never go back! It was SO helpful and diminished SO much stress for everyone. No longer were families sitting with nothing to do except fill out paperwork and waiting to talk with me. Since there was no line of families waiting to get a word in, I wasn’t stressed trying to make sure I spoke to everyone. Instead, I had ample time to walk around and touch base with everyone. Each family has fun, we all connect, and it’s a great night. You can learn all about the benefits of these stations HERE!
The task you give can be as simple as giving each family a checklist of stations as they walk through the door. After that, let them learn and explore the room as you chat and get to know everyone! One of the all time family favorites is the Photo Booth. They truly enjoy snapping adorable pics with THESE easy to use props! Each activity is meaningful that they love and YOU will love all the time you have to spend with each family.
#3 : Organization Equals Success
The third secret is to always remember that some good old organization goes a LONG way. Using the hit stations set up, organization is built in because all you need to do is plan how you want them to experience each station and how they will work through completing them. After that, print everything you need for each station, sort it, and boom- organized! It’s easy to navigate for families, engaging, and of course alleviates the stress of trying to be the teacher doing ALL the things. Read more on why stations are a must for Meet the Teacher organization HERE!
Another great thing about being organized during this time is that you can easily get families to complete those important forms BEFORE they leave! If everyone is stress free and knows exactly what needs to be done before they head out, it’s an easy check on the list. Think and plan ahead of time what your “NEED TO KNOW” information is for that first day of school. Typically it’ll be things such as how they get home, contact info, medical issues, etc. Foolproof way to get all that information? Make it a station! Set them up with papers to fill out at that station before they leave. It’s a great way you make sure to get all that important information ASAP with nothing lost in translation. As far as the rest of those papers, with the less than crucial things to know that can be brought back, create these easy to navigate student folders and send them home with families.
You can label them like pictured below with things to stay at home and forms that need to return. I also like including these simple magnetic teacher contact cards so families know exactly how to get in touch and it can go right on their fridge!
Don’t want to deal with all those paper forms at all? Share everything digitally with QR Codes! THESE editable digital forms are easy to navigate and make for easy collection and storage.
#4 : The Supply System
I don’t know about you, but when students roll up with a giant backpack full of stuff, it is SO overwhelming. There are so many things so this secret is one to tame all the anxiety around supplies! One way to help ease that stress is by setting out giant labeled tubs in a designated spot where they can place all their supplies. This makes it really easy for you to put them away after the event because they are already sorted out. Check out the setup below and grab the editable labels HERE!
#5 : Build Connections Right Away
Before your families even walk through the room you can begin to build connections with them. It’s a pretty big ingredient in the secret sauce. You can send a postcard invitation expressing your excitement about meeting them and the details of the event. With that invitation, why not add in a little “get to know me” letter so they can feel more welcome when the night comes? None of this is obviously a requirement, but it’s just another easy way to begin the connections before they ever step foot in your door.
Either way, you can begin to build connections right away. As soon as those families begin to trickle in, make it a point to greet everyone as they walk in. If you can’t greet them, at least smile and make eye contact with each family until you can speak with them. Use your time to mingle with families as they work through different stations. You can ask and answer questions, guide families as needed, and let them know more about who you are.
To continue that connection after the event, I love to send home a sweet surprise. The QR code station is where they can grab a surprise code for them to scan and listen to on the night before school starts. The code gives them access to a video of a sweet and memorable read aloud by none other than their new teacher! I always read ‘The Night Before First Grade’ to my students, but you can choose a favorite of yours. It’s a great gift, it helps foster a love of reading, and you’re continuing to build relationships with them and their families. Grab your freebie below to make your students feel super special too!
Grab this free resource now!
Coupled with their virtual read-aloud, students will also take home some “ready confetti” to put under their pillow the night before school starts! It’s so adorable and it is super easy to assemble. Grab some confetti, put it in a plastic bag, staple the poem to the top and that is that! Students get to take home a bag to signify them being “CON-READY” for school to start. It’s a super easy inexpensive gift that the kiddos absolutely love! Check them out pictured below.
#6: Share Important Info
Want parents to learn more about you? Create a slideshow and have it loop while families are in the room! They can look up while going through the stations and learn a little about you and how the class will run. You can also share it digitally with parents so they can read it on their own time. Add as much or as little as you want. Things like who you are, what your background is, important class must knows, etc. are great things to include. You can even create a QR Code of the slideshow and attach it to those important papers that go home with students!
Pin the image below to revisit this blog post later!
#7: Make Memories
Secret number seven is to make and cherish these first experiences together. They will set the tone for the entire year. Even if everything isn’t perfect, your room isn’t completely ready, or we still feel like we’re scrambling, know that it’s okay. It will still be a memorable night for your students because they’re meeting YOU!
We know how stressful it is to attempt to have our room ready, while still planning for the first week AND attending PDs. Do whatever you can to try to enjoy these moments and make memories with your new families! Make sure you mingle and chat with each family, maybe hop in a few photos at the photobooth, and of course share those gifts to build those foundational connections right away.
#8 : Relax and Have Fun
This one is so important it should’ve been number one. But all the other secrets will have hopefully gotten you to the point where you feel you can simply relax and have fun! I know there is A LOT to do. I know it can be overwhelming and exhausting. But it can also be enjoyable and you are allowed to have fun. Don’t worry if your room is not finished or perfect. If you need to, shove stuff in a closet or cabinet until they leave! I’ve done it. Don’t feel bad! Your families are there to get to know YOU!
I really hope you are walking away from this post with lots of great ideas and of course less stress. No matter what this night looks like, your families will have a great time and make great memories because of you. I’m here to help all the stress melt with the HUGE Meet the Teacher Bundle. It’s got all these great ideas and more for you to sit back and relax on your night to enjoy your time meeting families! From editable stations, to forms and gifts, you will be COVERED for your meet the teacher event. Grab the jam packed bundle HERE!
Don’t forget to subscribe to my email list! You will get the most up to date tips, tricks, and classroom projects… and of course more fun FREEBIES including the QR Code FREEBIE! You will also have exclusive access to tons of digital how to videos! If you would like to learn about this and other things happening in my classroom follow me @sweetnsauerfirsties on Instagram.
To follow me on TPT and get all the latest updates on HALF OFF new products, click HERE!
Love these ideas but don’t want to lose them? Don’t forget it, PIN it below!