Teaching Tips

Getting the Most out of Meet and Greet Night

When I began teaching in the States I dreaded ‘Meet and Greet’ night.  I had never experienced it in the UK and wasn’t sure what to expect.  That first night was a mess.  I appeared disorganized and spent too long with some parents and barely met others.  Some people went home with important paperwork, others didn’t.  I couldn’t put any names to faces and I worried that parents thought I was incompetent.  (Full disclosure: I probably was).  But what doesn’t break you makes you stronger, and by Year 2 I had upped my game and knew a little more about what I needed to do.

If you are about to hold your first Meet and Greet, it can be a nerve-racking experience.  These are the lessons I have learned over the years that help Meet and Greet night to go smoothly.

What do you want parents to know when they leave your classroom?

  • Your contact information and how and when they can contact you
  • What your child needs in their pencil box on the first day of school (for instance, I only allowed crayons and pencils, no scissors and glue sticks – I wanted those brought in separately).  Click here to read about introducing scissors to your early years students.
  • Other school supplies your child will need
  • What things (if any) need to be labelled
  • Classroom routines (snacks, lunch, dismissal)
  • Any school information that you have to pass out

What do you want students to know when they leave your classroom?

  • Your name
  • Where the bathroom is (I know you are all nodding at this one – it is the most exciting thing to look for in a classroom for whatever reason)
  • Where they will keep their things/hang their book bag/put their lunch
  • What they will do when they first enter the classroom on Monday morning
  • What they will have in their pencil box (no sobbing because the scissors are not in their box)

What do you want to know about your students when they leave your classroom?

  • How they are getting home!!  (Cannot emphasize this one enough – after a hectic and crazy first day the last thing you want is to find out 15 minutes after the last bus has rolled out that little Patty can’t remember how she got to school and has no idea how she is going home, only that her Uncle Mike has a green car with a wolf sticker, and that she thinks she is going to Disney after school.  She’s not).
  • Lunch choices for the first day of school, and then the rest of the school year.  If you have the lunch menu displayed in your room, ask a parent to mark what their child will be having for lunch the first day of school, and then check to say whether they will ordinarily be eating lunch from the school cafeteria or bringing a lunch box.  (Even when you have figured all this out, on the first day in the cafeteria when you have been opening 11 Go-gurts and everyone has chosen an orange that they can’t peel, you will find a little lad happily tucking into chicken nuggets only to discover he is a vegan and that a quinoa salad is in his lunch box.  In his book bag.)
Free Name tags
These free name tags will help you make sure that everyone eats the lunch they were supposed to and gets home the right way on the first day of school!
  • Quick contact information.  “If I need to call you tomorrow for any reason, what number can I call and know that you will pick up?”  You will be given duplicate data sheets, but I often find that the information on there is the ‘formal’ information, and what you need is a phone number that works.
  • Everyone signed up to Remind – have the code set up on your whiteboard and get everyone to sign up before they leave.  Read more about this app that lets you stay in contact with parents without giving out your personal number here.
  • Be able to begin to match a face to a name.  Do that by asking for parents permission for you to take a photo of their child and writing the photo number down next to the child’s name on your check list.  Use those photos to make name plates for check-in, lunch choices and centers.
  • Which parents can volunteer.  Give them options – I can help by sending in occasional supplies, I can volunteer on a regular basis, I may be able to come and help with a specific event if I have enough notice, I can help by cutting things out at home.

Ensuring everything runs smoothly

Let’s be honest.  You need to do all of the above without looking frazzled.  If you have 22 students, you need to do the above 22 times, and it is hard, because some parents are going to monopolize more of your time for others – some parents are going to have greater concerns than others, but you won’t be able to spend 30 minutes of your 90 minute evening with just one set of parents.  You need to acknowledge that as soon as you introduce yourself:

“Hi, it’s so nice to meet you.  I’m Ms Bledsoe and you are…and this must be your daughter… – hi Macy, how are you?  Are you excited about next week?  I love that top you are wearing! (To Parents) Thank you so much for coming this evening, this is a chance for your child to become acclimated with her new surroundings and for you to collect important information. Would you mind if I took a photo of your child for our check-in routine? If you have questions or information for me that we won’t have time to go over tonight, I have put my contact information here.  Feel free to email me with questions, and have fun exploring tonight!”

You are obviously going to do this is in your own sweet smiling way, but also in a confident manner – this is your night, you lead the night, you decide the direction the evening will take.

Meet and Greet Scavenger Hunt

My secret weapon for getting everyone in, out and leaving with everything they need is this scavenger hunt.  It is a free download from my TpT store, although if you do choose to download it, please be sure to leave some feedback – let’s share the love!

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below regarding how you organize your Meet and Greet nights, and check out this back to school resource to help you organize your forms and lists before the big night.  Good luck with your new school year – may it be the best one yet!

Back to school essentials
Back to school essential forms and documents, editable, to help you navigate the craziness before the school year begins!

 

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Making the most out of meet and greet night pin

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