Meet the Teacher Tips & Ideas

Well...it's about that time.  Time to go back to school.  Do I hear a resonating sigh??  Or are you ready for routine and structure?!  Me personally...I need routine!  

At any rate, with the approach of a new year also comes the anticipation of Meet the Teacher night.  I absolutely LOVE Meet the Teacher!  I love meeting my kids and their families.  I love seeing my students around their parents.  I mean seriously.  The kids I'm always nervous about at the end of the night are typically my most well behaved kids!  They're just really comfortable around their parents :)  And that's perfectly fine with me!  

With the new school year right around the corner, I thought it would by a great time to talk a little about one of my favorite nights of the year.  I'm no expert and I'm sure there are a million and one different amazing ideas out there for running a smooth and successful Meet the Teacher night, but I'd like to share with you a few tips and tricks that worked well for me when I was in the classroom.



When the kids walk in on Meet the Teacher night, their desks/tables are prepped and ready for their arrival.  Desks/tables are labeled with names.  My supply boxes are set out and labeled.  My transportation chart is up.  And I have a huge smile on my face :)  

Lets talk about what's on the desks first.

A Meet the Teacher Checklist

A "Welcome to First Grade" Booklet including:
- Meet Your Teacher handout
- First Grade Expectations handout
- Class schedule
-What is My Child Learning in First Grade? handout

A Student information sheet

A 9x12 tabbed envelope filled with paperwork (from the school) & a "Getting to Know You" handout from me

Name card for transportation pocket chart

Ready Confetti package and poem



This checklist sits on top of everything else on the desk.  I tell my kids to find their desks when they walk in the room.  Of course, they have to search for their name and they're shy for all of about 5 seconds before they start whipping around the desks to see where they'll be sitting.


This checklist tells my parents exactly what I want them & their kids to do while they're in the room.  I love having a checklist for them to complete because it takes the pressure off me and frees me up to walk around the room and greet my kids & families as they walk in.  I get a lot of questions too so it's good to have them all working on things while I'm answering those questions.


The checklist...as mentioned before...sits on top of a 9x12 envelope filled with paperwork (from the school) and a Welcome to First Grade! booklet I compile for the parents to read through (either at home or in the classroom).  This is what's included in that booklet...



I like for the first page in that booklet to be a little "all about me" handout just to let them know a little bit about who I am.  I think it's a great way to make an immediate connection with your kids and they love getting to know more about their teacher.




This student information sheet also sits on top of the 9x12 envelope.  I want my parents to fill this out before heading home so that I have all this information on hand come the first day of school.  I have a student information binder I keep next to my computer.  Each child in the room has his/her own tab.  I file these information sheets inside that student binder (along with many other things!!!)




Next up on the checklist....transportation.  This is what I consider to be the single most important piece of information you need to get from your kids before they leave that night.  My biggest first day...uh, first week...fear is losing a child due to transportation confusion.  


When I have kids that don't show up, I make sure to call home before the first day so that I can have their transportation information when I start the day.  Sometimes things are so chaotic and busy on that first day that I'm afraid I'll forget to ask my parents how their kids are getting home.  A phone call home really helps to put my mind at ease.  I like keeping the transportation arrangements on a pocket chart because it helps me...and the kids..to "see" exactly how everyone is getting home at the end of the day.  It's a great visual reminder for my kids..especially those that are really anxious about how they'll be getting home at the end of the day.

In addition to having a visual of the transportation arrangements, I also have my parents complete a school issued transportation sheet before leaving that night as well.  This sheet requires them to indicate transportation arrangements for the first day, first week, and remainder of the year.  I make copies of this sheet and keep one in my student information binder and then the original stays in the office.

Moving onto supplies...
I've organized supplies in a million different ways through the years, but the most efficient way I've found is having your kids/parents sort for you the night of Meet the Teacher.  This is a no-fuss, low-prep way for you to get organized and goodness knows that in the chaos and craziness of prepping for Meet the Teacher, you need as much no-fuss/low prep as you can get ;)

Most kids will either be bringing their supplies or having their supply packs delivered to the classroom that night.  I remember sitting in my classroom for about 2 hours AFTER Meet the Teacher every year for the first 7 years, I swear.  I would be going through each of my kids' supplies and sorting them into our community supply bins.  It took FOREVER.  Then a smart friend suggested the kids do it.  GENIUS.  If you don't do this already and you're looking for an easier way to manage supplies, I would definitely suggest trying this!  Because I have community supplies in my classroom, this arrangement works beautifully.  At the end of the night all I have to do is take the boxes and transfer the supplies into the tubs on my supply shelf.  I do have my kids keep a few supplies in their desks (as mentioned on the checklist) for the first day, but everything else gets put on the supply shelf.  I know some teachers like to label and sort through the supplies with their kids on the first day to just make sure all of their kids brought them, but I prefer for them to be completely sorted because the first week of school is crazy enough :)  I want to focus my time & energy into other things that are really important!


I strongly believe in making deposits before you can take withdrawls, so I want to start the year off on the right foot with my parents and let them know I'm invested in their child.  We're a team!!  
Set out a stack of envelopes and ask your parents to fill them out with their name and address.  Hold on to the envelopes and spend the first couple weeks of school getting to know their child....take notes on specific details about the child (Bobby is a very detailed artist....Susie is so kind and compassionate...a real friend to everyone,etc.)  Write a handwritten note home to parents including some of these specific details and tell parents how much you enjoy their child and how you're looking forward to watching him/her grow throughout the year.  BUILD THOSE RELATIONSHIPS!!  
A handwritten letter is SO much more personal than an email or a text.  I've had parents in the past tell me that receiving their note was a *highlight* of the year for them...parents LOVE hearing that their teachers see the good in their child like they do :)



Not only do parents like to hear great things about their kids, but they like to stay connected, too.  I personally have no problem giving my parents my cell #.  I like to be able to text them pictures of their kids while they're at school...especially on field trips the parents can't attend.  But that's just me.  Create a QR code with your info (cell #, email, etc.), print, and display during Meet the Teacher.  Encourage your parents to scan the code so that they'll have all your contact info in their phones before they leave for the night.  I love having all that info at my fingertips...just in case ;)  Of course, if you're not into letting your parents have your info, Meet the Teacher night would be a great time to start your campaign for Remind and encourage everyone to sign up before leaving.




I didn't have any personal pictures from my classroom saved, so I found a couple of my favorites to give you a visual of my explanation.  If you have any wishes you'd like filled for the year...extra glue sticks, construction paper, craft supplies, etc., write them on a label and stick them to the teacher supply cutouts and display them for your parents to see.  In the past I've used the "helping hands", popcorn pieces in a popcorn box (displayed on my white board), and fish in fish bowl.  Same idea, different presentations.  I kindly suggest that they might like looking at that display and if they find it in their hearts to fulfill any of those wishes, I will be FOREVER grateful :)
I collect the wishes that don't get taken and then type them up in the weekly newsletter.




The best part of my night is sending my kids home with their "Ready Confetti".  Such a fun tradition and one the kids...and parents...talk about ALL year.  For real!  I'm so happy I have such smart friends because this is in no way my idea.  

Whew!  I think that covers it!

If you have any questions or want to share any amazing ideas or simple "why didn't I think of that?!" management & organization ideas, I'd LOVE to hear 'em! 


37 comments:

  1. What is the colorful font in these handouts?

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    1. The font is MTF Jumpin' Jack! Hope that helps :)

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    2. What about the other one? The cursive one? :)

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    3. I was wondering about the cursive one too! :)

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    4. Good afternoon! My name is Amira Elsheikh and I will be teaching first grade in the fall. I looked online on your TpT page and was unable to find the packet for this online. Will it be available again? Please get back to me when you can. Thanks!

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  2. So helpful! I love all of these ideas especially the one about community supplies! It took me the entire first week of school to sort through them all! Lesson learned! haha!

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  3. These tips are so helpful! Thank you for allowing us to grab those student information sheets :)

    Joy in Primary

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    1. Glad they're helpful, Rosy! I know how crazy this time of the year can be! Hope it alleviates some of the stress!

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  4. Love all your tips and forms! Thanks for the detailed blog post about meet the teacher!
    -Lovely Nina

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  5. Ready Confetti is my favorite! I do it every year. Your printable is way cuter than mine, so I will definitely be replacing the one I have this year! Thank you!

    Lora
    teaching the littles

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  6. I looked at your Welcome to First Grade booklet and there are pages that can be used for Kindergarten but there in not a Welcome to Kindergarten cover sheet with the checklist. Can you add one for Kindergarten?

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  7. Love the Ready Confetti! Thank you for sharing! Also, I loved meeting you at the TPT conference You're a doll! ;)
    Aharwell

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  8. Love the Ready Confetti! Thank you for sharing! Also, I loved meeting you at the TPT conference You're a doll! ;)
    Aharwell

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  9. I'm moving from high school back to first grade, and I can't tell you enough about how much I needed this post! I was so overwhelmed with all of the things I had to prepare, but your post has seriously calmed my nerves! Thanks!

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  10. Thank you for such a great resource!!!! How did you make the font look shadowed with such soft color? I downloaded the font, but it is solid. Thanks so much!!

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  11. Hi Cara! Thanks so much for sharing the post! I am super excited to start the new year! I was wondering if there would be anyway to make the page "What is my child learning in first grade" editable. I LOVE the template & the idea of giving the parents an overview. Just need to match up some of the wording specific to my classroom/school :)

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  12. Cara,

    Thank you so much for this post! It was just the little push of excitement that I needed to start working on my Meet the Teacher materials! You are so amazing!

    Kristen S.
    Where The First Graders Are

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  13. I remember reading all about how you prep for meet the teacher when I did it for the first time 5 years ago. I was clueless and took ALL of your suggestions and did exactly what you said! The past 5 years, meet the teacher has gone incredibly smooth! Thanks for all your wonderful insight!

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  14. Your organization makes me so jealous! I try desperately to be this organized but it never happens... I am planning to follow all your tips for our Open House in a few weeks. Hopefully it all goes well :)

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  15. I LOVE the checklist idea! I feel like parents always forget to do something, and I'm hunting them down for what I need later.

    I also love the note idea! I always just send a handwritten note home with the child in the first couple of weeks, but I think mailing it would be even better!

    That's wonderful that you can send pics to parents through your cell phone. Our district has a policy that we cannot communicate with parents about school activities unless it is via district email or school phone. :-/

    Carlee Van Ness
    The Kindergarten Press

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  16. Thank you SO much for the awesome ideas!! I especially love the Ready Confetti :)! Is there any chance you'd be willing to share an editable version of the "Meet the Teacher" pages? I'm moving from first grade up to second this year, and I'd love to adapt a couple of the pages for my second grade class!!

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  17. Brilliant collection of ideas, thanks for sharing!

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  18. Hello!

    I really loved your blog entry on MTN. We do ours during the second week of school, but I still can use some of the ideas.

    A quick question that may sound super silly - what font are you using for the titles? ex: meet the teacher night, checklists, info, transportation? I find it very cute with the colors or is it highlighting. I would love to include it for some of my handouts.
    Thanks in advance

    CL

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  19. I will be returning to first grade after nearly 11 years. Your tips, suggestions, resources, and handouts are greatly appreciated!

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  20. I LOVED this post. You are so organized and CuTe!!! Thanks for getting me excited to start prepping my materials. <3

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  21. Hi there.. I am just wondering what program you used to create your "meet the teacher" form. I love the font colors, and style. Thanks

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  22. I love everything you post! I'm currently in school, in Early Childhood Education and these are awesome ways to prepare myself for the future! Thank you very much!

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  23. I have spent all morning trying to figure out how you got that colorful font to have almost like a drop shadow of color... It's killing me! haha any help would be appreciated? Was it done in photoshop? I love this resource! Thanks for sharing.

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    1. I also love the overlapping font! I want to edit these for my 2nd grade class. Is there a way to get an editable version of these documents? I love all of your resources, they are amazing!

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  24. do you have a ready confetti document that we can edit?! I am a partner teacher and we would LOVE to send this home with our Kinders, but we need to change the I'll to We'll :)

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  25. I love the ready confetti! Is there a way to get the editable version?

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  26. I love the ready confetti! Is there a way to get the editable version?

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  27. I love your ideas. Thank you!! May I ask how you do back to school night? Do you do a formal presentation / PowerPoint, introducing yourself or telling the parents about the routines and schedule of the classroom ? Or do you do back to school night more informal where parents just help to sort supplies and ask random questions? I've been teaching for 16 years but we have never done back to school night at our school. It's always been an orientation. Also what do you have the kids do while you are talking? I am afraid the children will take all the toys off the shelves leaving it a mess after back to school night. I teach K.

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  28. Hi Cara
    Can I get one that says pre-K on it???
    simonevoinche&gmail
    I would be sooo grateful!

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