Here's what I really felt at Back-to-School...

Dear Educator,

Happy fall!

Are you still feeling the delightful energy of being back at school?

At Family Friendly Schools, we are certainly feeling energized. We’re expanding!

We’ve added Amanda Hamilton Roos from Building the Bridge as a Program Lead here at FFS.

Amanda will be sending out the newsletters this year and helping us create even more resources and programs that we know you’re going to love. (Just wait!)

Let’s let Amanda introduce herself and talk about our theme for this month--Back-to-School Night...



Hi Educator, Amanda, here.

As a high school teacher, I’ve always enjoyed Back-to-School Night. There’s a nice hum in the air. But I didn’t really understand how important it is until I attended one as a parent.

When my oldest daughter (I have 3 kids) entered kindergarten we were so excited. She couldn’t wait to show me her classroom!

But when we came in to the class, the teacher was already talking to some parents. I could see many more moms and dads milling around, waiting their turn. So my daughter grabbed my hand and took me to see her desk.

“Here is where I sit, Mommy. See my name?”

“Yes, sweetie. Nice! And what’s this?”

“That’s a picture I drew. It’s me on the bus.”

I looked at a few other pictures that students had drawn. I half-heartedly looked at the behavior charts on the wall.

After about 15 minutes, the teacher was talking to another mother. They were laughing and seemed to know each other and I could see from the amount of parents in the room, obviously waiting to talk to the teacher, we would be waiting for a while.

Finally, 40 minutes after we began our back-to-school adventure, my daughter had to go to the bathroom, so we left.

Here’s what I wanted to feel as I walked out the door of the classroom:

  1. My child is going to really like what she learns in this classroom.

  2. The teacher is real person who will be personally interested in my child.

  3. I can trust this teacher to do a good job and I have some ideas of how I can reinforce the learning at home.

How do you think I felt when I walked out the door of that classroom?

  1. I felt frustrated--at the lack of details available, at the meet and greet format, the generic feel of the classroom.

  2. I had no better idea of what was going on the classroom than I did before I came to Back-to-School night.

  3. I felt disappointed.

So how will you prepare YOUR Back-to-School Night? If you’ve already had Back-to-School night, how can you make it more engaging for families next year.

May I suggest one question to ask yourself:

What do the families of my students really want from Back-to-School Night?

Here’s one possible answer that I’ve learned from working with families and being a parent myself:

When families come into a school, they want to feel the positive and infectious energy of teaching and learning.

Here are two ways to help them feel that Back-to-School buzz:

  • Show families that in your class, kids learn and doThink: student work, visuals, materials, videos, simulations, modeling — there are many ways to help classroom learning come alive for parents. One teacher has parents participate in the same quick science experiment at open house that students do in her class.

  • Share one or two specific, doable strategies parents can use to help their kids learn--like helping children who are working on multiplication calculate the number of steps it would take to go from their house to school or Grandma’s house (The Parent Playbooks are full of ideas!) Parents are eager for this information. Don’t forget to elicit ideas and questions from the parents.

Remember Back-to-School Night is your first (and maybe last) personal contact with the parents of your students. Don’t waste this precious opportunity reading the student handbook!

Committed to your success,

Dr. Joni, Amanda, and the FFS Team

Want to really dig in?