Make a positive impression by showing that you are invested in your child's education from day one. —Jenny GK
A witty and engaging podcast episode where the hilarious Caitlin Kindred and Jenny GK aim to help teachers create a memorable Meet the Teacher experience—and parents make a good impression—through their lived experiences and insightful tips for success.
From this episode, you'll be able to
Uncover effective strategies for making the most out of Meet the Teacher Day as you gear up for the school year.
Parents: Hear from teachers/experts who have seen the best and the worst of parent behavior at Meet the Teacher events.
Teachers: Get some ideas for engaging students and building positive rapport with their grown-ups right from the start.
Introducing Caitlin Kindred and Jenny GK, the modern-day educational mavens whose teaching styles are as different—and welcoming—as their personalities. Their combined 25+ years of teaching have been fueled by their commitment to making education relatable and engaging.
Caitlin and Jenny’s knack for breaking down complex ideas, coupled with their Master's degrees in education, make them the perfect people to get advice from on Educational Do’s and Don’ts. Over time, they’ve learned how to navigate the delicate balancing act of mixing formal education with an informal, friendly approach, and it shines through in their insightful tips for Meet the Teacher Day.
'Meet the Teacher' Dos & Don'ts for Teachers...
1) Create handouts:
A literal “meet the teacher” sheet with info about you (so that your families can start to see you as a human from day one)
Tip: create a QR code for your contact info (you can make these for free)
Another tip: add the hours that families can expect you to respond to their attempts to contact you (ex: I spend my evenings making dinner with my 7YO, so I’m unavailable after 5 PM)
Have supply lists and B2S documents ready (parents might come to one or the other, but not always both, especially as kids get older!)
Basic classroom expectations, a very general curriculum outline, and tips for how parents can help kids at home
2) Encourage parents to write a note to kids or create a "tell me about your student" activity. Leave the supplies out to have it done while parents are in your room or make this digital in some way.
3) Prep a 2-minute activity for your new students to do.
Scavenger Hunt/Classroom Tour/Checklist of Things To Do while in the room
Write a question on the board and have kids write their answers on sticky notes and stick them to the board around the question.
Math: how many ___ are in the jar?
SS: one fact I know about ___
ELA: my fave book ever is ___
Sci: make observations with a hand lens (for little ones); observe dominant and recessive traits (for bigger kids)
Other: tell me your best dad joke, one random trivia fact is
For littles: Create a space to take a fun picture in a frame
4) Middle and High School teachers: it's okay to work while visitors pop in and out!
5) Feel pressured to have Pinterest-perfect (or even finished) rooms!
6) Leave curriculum textbooks (if any) out for parents to flip through—because they will!
7) Neglect to talk to the kids! For many parents, this is their first impression of you. Make sure you’re attentive to their children and make an effort right from the start.
8) Engage in individual/personal conversations with new families… you never know who might be listening! Save those discussions for emails or scheduled conferences.
Say it with me: “Thank you for bringing that up. I think we should save this conversation for a more confidential setting. Here’s my contact info, please reach out and we can schedule a conference.”
The same goes for personal convos: put your phone away and save the other conversations for later
...And for Parents
9) Introduce yourself and your student to the new teacher. Don't hug unless you've known the teacher for a while.
10) Pick up all handouts from the teacher and read through them. Send follow-up questions to the teacher via email.
11) Follow-up on requests from the teacher. What we mean is: donate the things you said you would complete necessary forms, etc.
12) Add upcoming dates to calendars and contacts to your phone. Set aside necessary time off at work.
13) Remember that middle school kids are not interested in meeting their teachers. Kids are there to socialize: they want to see their friends and their friends’ schedules.
14) Take some time to practice opening lockers (especially for new 6th graders!)
15) Take deep breaths! This can be a high-anxiety event for EVERYONE, including teachers!
16) Expect finished and perfectly decorated classrooms. The week before school starts is full of professional development training sessions, meetings, and catching up. Teachers are working in their rooms during every spare moment, but room time is scarce!
17) Flip through the textbooks you see. Teachers are using those books because they're mandated by the school board. The book and curriculum are not the teacher’s choice.
18) Bogart the teacher’s time! Other kids and grown-ups are there, too, and they all need attention. This is not the time to be telling your child's entire life history and how extra special they are. Use the “tell me about your kid” activity the teacher set up to do this! We promise, teachers read those!
19) Ask for schedule changes for your kid during this time. The teacher has absolutely no control over class placement. Direct those questions to the school counselor via email.
20) Bring school supplies unless specifically stated that this is the time. You'll be bringing them home if it's not the time to drop them off!
And one bonus "don't" for parents:
DON'T make your kid take a picture with their brand-new teacher—this is awkward AF for everyone but especially your middle and high school students.
To Sum Up:
Effective 'Meet the Teacher' Strategies
To maximize the productivity of Meet The Teacher events, Caitlin and Jenny discuss the importance of preparedness. Teachers should prepare comprehensive handouts detailing their teaching styles and personal interests, while parents should be ready with meaningful questions to ask. Moreover, maintaining effective communication between teachers and parents throughout the academic year is key for fostering a supportive educational environment for students.