You never get a second chance to meet your child’s teacher for the first time. So, why not make your first meeting a fabulous one? If you’ve spent some time around the school or your teacher is a member of your community, you may know each other already. But, for most of us, the first chance we get to meet our child’s teacher is at a formal meet-the-teacher night or back-to-school event.
You shuffle into a crowded room full of nervous parents and students and you really want it to go well. You want to love the teacher. It wouldn’t hurt if he thought your family was amazing. And, more than anything, you want him to recognize that your kid is the real deal, his future favorite student, the reason he got his teaching certificate.
At the very least, you want to start the year with positive vibes and an open channel of communication. But, meet-the-teacher events can be weird and stressful and you can come home thinking, “What did we even accomplish there? I can’t remember a thing we talked about. It all happened so fast.”
Here are a few tips gathered from my 10+ years of meeting teachers and from two of my favorite educators, Donna Calapp and Brianna Grant.
1. Keep an Open Mind
Brianna says, “No matter what you may have heard about your child’s new teacher, each student/teacher relationship is unique, so come with an open mind and a smile!” This is probably the best advice out there.
Some of my kids’ most successful learning experiences have come with teachers who seem universally disliked by my most vocal friends. Arriving with a positive attitude about how the year will go will always serve you well.
2. Turn off the Fire Hose
It’s important to share personal information about you child, her strengths and struggles. However, meet-the-teacher night is not the right time. With so many people in attendance, you won’t get the privacy or attention you need to express your thoughts and concerns. Set up another time to follow up and discuss needs in detail. Brianna even suggests writing a thoughtful note for the teacher to read later when she can give it full attention.
3. Put Yourself in the Teacher’s Shoes
Teachers get nervous too. Meeting all their students and families and trying to make a good first impression can be stressful. Be open and friendly and do your best to help the teacher feel at ease. Be interested and ask them questions but don’t interrogate.
Many teachers will have volunteer sign-up sheets available at meet-the-teacher or curriculum night. If they do, find something that fits into your schedule and jump in. If they don’t, ask how you can help. This is Mrs. Calapp’s number one tip and it’s important!
Volunteering is a great way to build a relationship with your child’s teacher, to get a feel for how the classroom works, and to observe your child in this new setting. It’s also a great way to meet the other kids and have a better understanding of your child’s world.
5. Help Your Child Engage
Build your child’s confidence by helping him interact with his teacher during their first meeting. Help them prepare one question before they meet for the first time. Practice it.
This helps avoid the Giant Mickey Mouse effect. You know how kids are when they meet one of their heroes at Disneyland for the first time? They freeze up and don’t know what to say. Teachers loom larger than life in our kids’ minds and helping them prepare to interact right away will minimize the stress.
6. Stay Positive
Ask your child what he or she likes about the classroom. Point out seating options or cool decorations or fun learning activities that will appeal to your child. Remember that you’re not only making a first impression on your child’s teacher, but the new school environment and the new teacher are making a first impression on your child. Help smooth the transition by showing them how much they have to look forward to.
7. Make a Plan
Take fifteen minutes before you go, to visualize what you want out of the experience. Write yourself a few notes about things you can do to ensure the experience meets your expectations. So often I just rush from one thing to the other and I don’t take the time to be intentional. This extra time can make all the difference for you and your child!
What do you do to make meet-the-teacher night a success?
We love ANY help with starting the school year off right – so here are a few more great ideas that might be helpful for you and your child: