Tip Number One for a Middle School Back to School Open House : Use Stations!
We have found a really successful way to navigate your middle school back to school open house night. Setting up stations in your classroom that the parents and students can work through during that back to school night, adding some unique touches that will make your classroom stand out on that night, and using an ongoing slideshow during your event will make your room unforgettable as parents and students make their way through the open house.
Our number one way to make your middle school back to school open house event a success is to set up stations in your classroom for the students and parents to work through when they first come in your room. You may be wondering why stations are going to be so helpful on this night.
Why Stations are Helpful
Picture it. You just had five parents and students walk into your middle school back to school open house at the same time. They don’t have anything to do other than talk to you! This can lead to an awkward time for parents standing around and an anxious feeling for you to hurry up and finish speaking with one parent to get to the next. Using stations can make everyone feel comfortable. It gives students and parents both a chance to see how organized you are and how happy you are to have them. Everyone will be able to see that you have taken the time to organize and set up these stations just for them. It just makes your guests feel valuable and happy to be there. Also, if parents don’t have time because they’ve got a child at another school and they’ve got to get to another open house, or they’ve got to get a child to football practice or soccer practice, the stations give them the chance to quickly be a part of the event and leave information for you.
Suggested Stations You can Implement
Stations are going to make your middle school back to school open house a game changer! As you read these suggestions, you may start you think of other stations you could use, and that’s the beauty of this. We suggest that you have a sign at your door that parents see immediately. And that sign needs to direct them to what they should do when they walk in your room. We have our sign say, “Parents and Students, welcome! When you come in, please look at the presentation on the screen. It will tell you what to do.”
Stations for Students
- Station 1: One of our most successful and fun stations for students involves candy. We buy jars from The Dollar Tree. We put different types of candy in three or four jars and have the students guess how many pieces are in each jar. We provide slips of paper, and students write their name and their guess. Then between back to school night and the first day of school, you see which student had the closest guess. On the first day of school, the kids are so excited because they can’t wait to find out who will win that jar of candy.
- Station 2: Meet the teacher. We have things set up so that our students learn a little bit about us. You could have a picture of your family, your dogs, your college diploma to let them know where you went to school, a hoodie from where you went to school, an old yearbook open to you as a middle schooler, or anything that shows the students a little bit about you to let them start to feel comfortable with you before school even starts.
- Station 3: About Me, the Student ~ Here, students fill out a card writing “one thing I want you as my teacher to know about me”. This goes in a box or jar for you to read later. On the first day of school, you already know something about each child, and you can put this to use to make your students feel welcomed.
- Station 4: Birthdays! We have students can fill out a Google form that we’ll share with you, if you’d like to use it. And it lets them put their name and their birthday in a month. That’s something that gives that personal touch to the student. You can use that all year long as you make each student feel special on his/her birthday.
- Station 5: All for the siblings! Often times, there are younger siblings who are at the back to school open house with the parent and your student. Have a station just for them. Consider providing a guessing jar for these guests, some coloring pages, or fidget toys so that they’re not feeling lost. You just want your room to be as welcoming and inviting as you can for your students to make them feel loved and welcomed.
Stations for the Parents
- Station 1: Information Station! This is, of course, where parents can provide some of their contact information. Parents are filling out so many forms in back to school season, so you may not want to have them fill out everything. Consider using a form where you ask them the best way to contact them, whether it be through texting, emailing, or calling.
- Station 2: Essential Classroom Things to Know! Here, provide handouts for parents on things you can inform them of, like your grading policy, what they can expect you to send home for homework, the main way you will communicate with them, and more.
- Station 3: Volunteer station! If you have a need in your classroom for parents to help you, like field trip chaperones, supplying your classroom with tissue, or helping with PTO, this is a wonderful opportunity to have them sign up for that. We have book clubs throughout the year, and we like to give our kids a snack during book clubs because that generates excitement. During our back to school night, we have a station where parents can sign up for Book Club snacks, and that is so helpful. We go ahead and have the month that we’re going to host each book club and and let parents know that we’ll be contacting them during that month to tell them when to send the snacks.
- Station 4: Talk with us! During this night, you want to speak with the kids and the parents and you can make your way around. But you definitely want to spend a few minutes talking with each person who visits your classroom.
Tip Number Two for a Middle School Back to School Open House
Add some Unique Touches to Your Classroom!
Tip number two, for a wonderful middle school back to school open house is to add some unique touches to your classroom that parents and students don’t see in every other classroom that night. We’re so excited to tell you about the first one.
- Unique Touch: Let one of your stations provide a place where parents can write their child a note that you will keep and give to their child at an opportune time during the school year. Parents can write more than one note to their child if they wish. Once complete, the parents will leave the notes with you, and you will file those notes away and use them at different times throughout the school year. Of course, the easiest time is for the child’s birthday. Some parents want to write a birthday note to their child. So on that child’s birthday, you can pull out that note and give it to the child It will really light up their day. We have found that it’s best to be careful and not make a big show of it for that student who might be new, who won’t get a note from a parent or a student whose parents couldn’t come to open house. It’s best to give it to the student discreetly. Parents may write a note just telling their child how much they love them. And if you notice one particular day where that student seems to be feeling a little bit down, feeling not so good, you can say, “Oh, I’ve got a note for that child.” You can slip them the note from their parent and enjoy the smile that comes over that child’s face. It is just priceless, even for middle school students! If you’re wondering how you could handle taking care of kids who don’t have notes, one suggestion is to write them a note yourself. This is really easy, again, for the birthdays, because you’ve already got their birthdays written down.
- Unique Touch: Using the birthdays another unique touch. You want to celebrate your students’ birthdays throughout the year, and if you’ve got that calendar with their names on it, then you’ve got that set. To make this special during the open house event, have a birthday poster that you can hang in your classroom. When students write their birthday on this poster, all the students can see everyone’s birthday. Even middle school students want everybody to know when their birthday is. They’re going to tell you “my birthdays in three days, Mrs. Temple.” So having a display will be great. There are so many different cute things on Etsy that you can display for these birthdays, or you can you can make something yourself. We’re even going to provide a display you can use too!
Tip Number Three for a Middle School Back to School Open House
Use an Ongoing Slideshow on your TV or Screen
Our third tip is to have an ongoing slideshow that will help everything run smoothly. Use a PowerPoint or Google slides that you have on your screen at the front of the room. It will display information about who you are, your name, your classroom number, what subject you teach, as well as directions, pointing them to what they’re supposed to do while they’re there – the stations and where they go. You can include any other information you’d like, like a quote that expresses how excited you are to have them, or a couple of pictures of yourself. And you will put that slideshow on loop so that it ongoing so that parents can always look up there to see to see that.
We are providing you with a free resource that provides printables for the stations, templates for the PowerPoints and even instructions for how to set up your stations and the supplies you’re going to need that you can pick up at the Dollar Tree. This resource also includes some pictures from our past years of open house.
We are sure that your next middle school back to school open house will be a blast! We’d love to have you connect with us. You can find us on Instagram, Facebook, and even TPT just look for ELA core plans. You can also listen to our podcast titled Two Middle School ELA Teachers.