So You Think You Want to Teach School: Open House Edition

Here’s 5th part of the So You Think You’d Like to Teach School series. The idea for this series came out of some questions I’ve gotten from folks interested in making teaching their profession.

open house

How to Rock Elementary School Open House

This post could also have been titled “How I Used to Dread This Annual Event, But Since I Figured Out The Secret, I’m Good”.

Also: Why Didn’t Anyone Clue Me In?

So my first few (seven to be exact) Open Houses didn’t go that great. I was a nervous wreck! Something always felt like it was about to go wrong and sometimes it actually did.

There was the year a parent decided to name call (rhymes with itch – I wish I was kidding), the teacher shopping (aka the job interview), and my personal favorite – the impromptu teacher conference. And finally, the year I came home to find my cat had died.

No wonder why I dreaded Open House!

So I did what any reasonable professional would do and asked my smarty pants co-workers about their experience with Open House and  in asking, I got the secret to a successful elementary school Open House.

The Open House SECRET: Give EVERYONE in the family a job to do.

IDEA #1 – The In Class Scavenger Hunt

Materials You’ll Need:

Student work posted and on their desks

A student check list

Pencils/markers/stamps – something to mark their found treasures.

One your scavenger hunt ask students to find specific items in the classroom and explain them to their families.

IDEA #2 Math Minutes station (aka students success center)

Materials You’ll Need:

100 fact worksheets – I used addition, subtraction, multiplication and division 100 problem fact timed tests I found by Googling math fact worksheets.

A cup full of sharpened pencils.

A bunch of 5 minute timers.

Clipboards or empty desks where people can work.

Students challenge their families to finish the all facts tests in five minutes.

Side note: This was by far my students’ favorite station because they loved watching their siblings and parents struggle to finish something they excelled doing.

IDEA #3 A Reading Fluency Station

A stack of fluency reading sheets (ours were provided by our district, but we could use Read Naturally or counted text from readers or science texts)

Timers

Pencils

Students read a passage as quickly (and fluently) as possible in one minute marking where they stop. Repeat two more times on same passage and note how much farther they read with each repeated read.

Students love to show what they know and their improvement, even in 3 minutes.

IDEA #4 Build 3D Shapes Station

Materials You’ll Need:

Geometric Shapes Nets (I used the set provided in the teacher materials of our district math program. I just made extra copies).

Colored pencils, markers, crayons.

Multiple pairs of scissors.

Clear tape.

Everyone chooses a shape net, colors, cuts out and precisely folds their net on the lines. They use the tape to hold their shape together.

I found that families talked a lot about how parents hadn’t seen this kind of geometry until high school. My students were incredulous they were doing “high school” work and parents were impressed with their students’ work.

IDEA #5 Display all the digital photos from the year as a slide show

This one relies on all the photos from the year being in one place – hopefully your computer or camera, so if not this year start planning for next.

I take a lot of photos during the year and love being able to show them off during this event.

Some years I was able to project them onto my big screen and other years the slideshow was a single computer monitor in the back of the room. It didn’t matter how big the presentation, my students (and their families) beamed with pride seeing themselves hard at work all year long.

I hope these ideas help you get creative during your next elementary school Open House.

What are your Open House success secrets?

Please leave comments to share with others what you do to make yours a successful school community event.

Image source

So You Think You Want to Teach Part 3: Before You Take the Credentialing Leap

Here’s part 3 of the So You Think You’d Like to Teach School series. The idea for this series came out of some questions I’ve gotten from folks interested in making teaching their profession.

Volunteer or at least observe 20-40 hours in a classroom, preferably in the same one. If you have to take vacation time from your job, please do. It is remarkably illuminating watching someone work. Plus you will get a head start on what is expected when you are in the front of the room. It will also help you get a head start on your credentialing school application.

Read teacher books and blogs. 

Books I found inspiring:

Read some blogs to get you thinking about what issues teachers are facing today. Here are some of my favorites.

It’s Not All Flowers and Sausages

Blogging Through The Fourth Dimension

Teaching With Soul

Informational interview all kinds if teachers: ones who love their jobs and those that hate them. Find out why. It is better to know what you are getting into before you find yourself in a career you hate.

Make teacher connections on Twitter. New teacher chat #ntchat on Wednesdays at 5pm PST is a treasure trove of excellent ideas. Other helpful hashtags include: #mathchat #edchat

Read 20 Tidbits for New Teachers from Lisa Dabbs.

Substitute teach.  Sub teaching was as beneficial {or more} than my credential program in a lot of ways. Kids will never be more ill-behaved than with a sub, so you get a sneak peek into future behavior issues now. It helped my classroom management a lot. Plus, being paid to practice teaching? I’d say a pretty good gig.

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Did I miss anything? Have a question about teaching? If so, leave me a note in the comments.

Stay tuned for upcoming topics in the series: Classroom Management, Taming the Homework Beast, Parents: Friend or Foe?

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Interested in more about Life As A School Teacher? Be sure to click the Life As A School Teacher category link below.