Monday, July 8, 2013

Giveaway Week 1 - Back-to-School

Welcome to week 1 of my back-to-school giveaways… this week we are going to focus on the actual back-to-school stuff!  If you’re like me, you are still enjoying your summer and don’t even want to begin thinking about open house, back-to-school night, or meet-the-teacher morning…. However, it is already July, which means we will be back in our classrooms again before we know it!! (Can someone please tell me where the entire month of JUNE went?!)  Ok, so at my school, we have an open-house the first morning of school, and parents rotate around the school to meet their students’ teachers for the first hour, while the PTA and Watch Dogs keep the kids busy outside.  This is a fun, but stressful morning! Parents have so many questions and they ALL want to talk to you about their little Johnny or Jane. 

Before you start to stress, take a deep breath and remember that it’s okay to just be “good enough” at your open house. Whether it’s in the morning, evening, before school starts, or after school starts, the lovely Christina Bainbridge has you covered.  Christina has an awesome open house packet that has everything you could ever imagine for an open house (and a few things you probably HAVEN'T thought of, like a snack table!! Brilliant.) The great thing about this packet is that all I have to do is print it, and it's ready to go. My #1 rule as a "good enough teacher" is to never reinvent the wheel.  If something great already exists, I would rather spend a few dollars on it than spend HOURS trying to come up with something on my own.  There's no shame in buying an amazing open house packet (and at $4.00, it's a steal for how great it is!!)  Oh, and did I mention that this packet is EDITABLE?! Oh yeah!!  I can type in my class information, print it, and BAM! everything is ready for open house.  Parents show up, I look awesome, and nobody knows my little secret (well, except all of you, because I just told you :) )

Here's a glimpse into this fabulous packet:

After going through this packet, I am *almost* excited for school to start again :) And, the best part about this packet is that it’s already made! Look how many HOURS I just saved myself!!  (More time to hang out at the pool and enjoy the hot summer days!)  See, being "good enough" is really GREAT!

Another fabulous back-to-school resource that I am super excited to use this year is
a set of back to school editable organizational files from teach4real.  This packet is filled with spreadsheets and other editable documents so  that you can add your own class information, print it, and you're set! The documents include student transportation info, a student information sheet, student directory, supply list, customizable welcome letter and more!  Take a look at what's included (I love the cute cover page!!):

 teach4real has offered to give THREE lucky winners this pack!!  Use the Rafflecopter below to enter!

Now, while we're already on the subject of open-house, let's discuss parent volunteers.  I already know what some of you are thinking... "parent volunteers?! How do you get parent volunteers??"  Believe me, I understand.  I have taught in many different settings over the years... I've had parents SO involved that all I had to do was show up at school and my party was all planned, organized, and supplied (which is SUPER AWESOME), and I've also been in schools where parents never step foot in the classroom and I'm on my own for every. single. party. OY! Needless to say, I've become great at simple party planning... remember, 7 year olds are easy to impress :) 

So, back to volunteers... Occasionally I have parents who are able to come into the classroom and help out, but it's not always a consistent, set schedule, and I'm sometimes caught off-guard and don't have anything ready for them. (sound familiar??) Luckily, the talented Adrianne over at "The Tutor House" has created a great binder-system to use in the classroom.  As soon as I saw her binder set, it was love at first sight! This binder has everything you need to get parents involved in your classroom: step-by-step directions to get your volunteer program up and running, volunteer sign up sheets, confidentiality agreements, reading guide (complete with a reading strategies poster and recording sheets!), word study list and games (including game boards and directions), common core math vocabulary (some of those fancy math words can be confusing!!), divisibility tips, and quick and easy math games using a deck of cards.  This binder will make my life so much easier when parents show up at the last minute and want to help.  Take a look, isn't it great?!

In addition to in-class volunteers, I've had many parents over the years who have offered to help at home, because they all work full-time, but I've never known how to organize and execute great at-home volunteering (therefore, I've never utilized parents as much as I could have, and end up bringing home WAAAAY too much stuff to finish on my own!)  This is where Becca Foxwell comes to the rescue!!  Becca has designed the most amazing parent-volunteer system called "Helping Hands", and let me just say... this is nothing short of brilliant!  I think I already everything I need to assemble my "helping hands" bags, and can't wait to get them put together.  I have not yet used this system, but am SO EXCITED to implement it in my classroom this fall.  She has written multiple blog posts about how she uses parent volunteers, so I know this system really and truly works.  Parents can sign up when they come to your open house or back-to-school event, or you can send a note home to parents who aren't able to attend those events. Look at how awesome this packet is:



Christina, Adrianne, and Becca have offered to give their packets away to 2 lucky readers... you can enter by using the rafflecopter below. The contest will run from Monday until Wednesday night at midnight.  If all goes as planned, I'll have the winners posted Friday night or Saturday :)

41 comments:

  1. Our open house isn't until school is in session for 5 or 6 weeks, but the primary grades invite students & families in the day before school starts to see the classroom, bring in supplies, etc. dbednarsk@yahoo.com

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  2. We have our open house in the spring to showcase all the students have done. They come with their families and show them around the classroom and school. Before school starts we meet with the parents and go over the curriculum for 1st grade and what to expect, then the students bring in their supplies and get things set up in the room.

    Ali

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  3. This year we had a project night along with conferences so that parents could see student work. We also had a Night of the Notables.

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  4. We have Meet the Teacher the Thursday before school starts (on a Monday). This is where parents get all of their information (especially since I teach Kindergarten) about transportation, supplies, schedules, etc. The kids come with parents to meet their teacher and walk around the school. We have a separate night during the second week of school for Curriculum Night which is where I go into more detail about all of the information they need. :)

    Breanne
    breannesimons@gmail.com

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  5. Our open house is in September to discuss our curriculum, routines, goals etc.... But we have a Meet the Teacher prior to school starting and I like to have parents fill out transportation forms, volunteer, parent info, student info, give them an idea of our schedule and a supply list.

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  6. LOVE your blog name. I use parent volunteers to help at centers and read with kids. I also use parent volunteers who can't make it into the classroom to prep big projects at home.

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  7. We have Open House a few days before school opens. It is sometimes stressful because it seems like all the parents come at one time and have a million questions. I try to make it to everyone! I like to have forms on the desks for parents to fill out while I am making my rounds around the classroom introducing myself.

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  8. At open house I do an overview of my program, behavior system, focus of the program, etc. My students start the NYS alternate assessment for the first time, so I spend a fair amount of time discussing and explaining it.
    Pam
    http://mrspspecialties.blogspot.com/

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  9. This will be my first year with my own classroom, so this is one of the MANY things I need to figure out. Thanks for the giveaway! And love the blog name, and your philosophy. Setting up my own room has really challenged me to accept that I can't do it all alone.

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    1. Forgot my email. jkmatuch@aol.com

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  10. Open House is an evening event at my school with adults only. It is usually after the first couple of weeks of school. Since we are a fairly small school, we usually have some class changes due to shifts in numbers/combo classes, etc. I usually do a powerpoint along with a packet of info. I have sign ups for volunteers, parties, supplies, etc. I use parent volunteers the most during reading groups to help with groups that aren't meeting with the teacher. I also use them during Math during independent work time or to help when I do math games.

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  11. At open house, I try to get parents to go ahead and fill out beginning of the year forms and give them plenty of essential information they need to know. I also have the kids sign a piece of chart paper which gives me a quick idea of what my new kindergartners know about letter and their writing their own name. They love looking back at that paper at the end of the year!
    -Carol
    carolcobb23@gmail.com
    Mrs. Cobb's Kindersprouts

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  12. School has been in session for a couple of days before open house in my district. I have a checklist that I have gone over with the kids to make sure they have shown their parents everything (like a scavenger hunt type thing. Among the stops were some centers showing some of the supplies we use a lot (blocks to make letters, toothpicks and coffee stirrers to make shapes, etc.)I also had a small gift (popcorn bag) for popping in!

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  13. At Meet the Teacher the parents and students come in and drop off any supplies they want to bring in early. Usually, there is a few pieces of paperwork that I would like for them to fill out before they leave (such as Mode of Transportation so I know how the student is to get home on the first day of school). Later in the school year we have a Back to School night where it is just for parents and I talk about the curriculum and expectations.

    Christina :)
    Apples, Books, and Crayons
    applesbooksandcrayons@gmail.com

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  14. Way to go Krys! I think I've used the open house packet before, but I can't remember. The years blend together too much. So fun! We have our open house the night before school starts, so I like to make it pretty simple.

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  15. At our Open House prior to school beginning,students and theie parents stop in to see their new classroom and meet me. Some students will bring in their supplies at this time and tuck them into their desks. I give students their communication folders with all of the "Parent Homework" aka all that paper work the office requires. I also hang up apples with classroom donation items (such as Lysol wipes, Ziploc bags, etc.). A few weeks into the school year we have a Curriculum Night where I use a power point presentation to go over our third grade curriculum as well as classroom expectations. Last year I also used the "Thanks for Popping In" popcorn idea found on TPT.

    ~Sylvia

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  16. We have back to school night were I do a presentation for the parents to fill them in on the year. I have parents help in the classroom during centers and other times of the day.

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  17. We have a meet the parents night. I share expectations and what their child should bring home every night.

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  18. We have a "Get Aquainted Day" the week before school starts. The students bring their supplies, and we meet each other! Parents fill out paperwork on this day! Open House is about 2 weeks later, and we have 15 min. sessions with parents for 1 hour. We do this just in case they have other kids in a different grade. Works really well!

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  19. I will graduate next year. I plan on having an introduction to my classroom and the expectations I have for my students and for myself. :)

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  20. The last page of my back to school packet has a volunteer sign up. It has all the different ways parents can help our class. I ask parents to sign up for as many or as few ways they'd be willing to help. I always hope for parent volunteers for specific times, but don't limit them to those times. After getting the forms back, I work on a schedule to allow as many parents to help as sign up (in some way or another).

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  21. We have our open house a few days before school starts. Usually have all the information and paperwork organized for each student, so the parents can fill it out that night and not have to worry about sending in later. I also let them get to know the classroom and where they will be sitting, and to organize their school supplies. A couple of weeks into school, I also have a parent night, where parents are walked through a "day in the life" of our classroom, procedures are explained, and I answer any questions they might have. It is nice to wait until we are into the swing of things to have conversations like this.

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  22. A couple of days before school starts we have orientation for students and parents to meet the teacher and learn a little about the school year and expectations. About a month later we have open house which allows the parent and teacher to discuss the child's progress so far.

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  23. At schools in the past, it's always hard to get parents to come. So I work through the kids. A few weeks before I start talking about Mrs. Rapp's famous cookies. Then as we learn how to be a tour guide and prep their "classroom brochure" (like they have in hotel lobbies of fun attractions) I casually mention that I am going to be making my famous cookies for them and their families to sample once they reach the end of their tour.

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  24. If we don't have FOOD...& matbe BBsitters...not a lot of parents come. ( Out of 31 students...maybe 16-17 families...) My thinking is whatever I do at school MAY BE the ONLY help they get...so make it matter! ANYTHING at home....extra! wendy 1stgradefireworks@gmail.com 1stgradefireworks

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  25. This year, instead of meet the teacher the evening before school, we are doing it on the FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL! The parents are coming in with their kids for the first 45 minutes and we are expected to start a common core lesson. Not really looking forward to back to school, but if I win, maybe I will be. :)
    Andrea Halterman

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  26. Ours is held the night before school begins. This year I am planning a scavenger hunt of the classroom areas and features. Am hoping this will give me more time to interact with the parents and answer their questions AND that will a defined activity for the students, things will be a bit less chaotic than last year. :) Last year was our first time for doing it the night before instead of later in the nine weeks, so there was definitely a learning curve for all of us: parents, students, and teachers. :)

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  27. I always find "Meet the Teacher" night stressful....trying to get your room ready, get things set-up for that night, then school starts in 2 days....ugh! Hoping if I win, things will be a little bit easier! :)

    ~Wendy
    sdwd727@gmail.com

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  28. We do an orientation at our school...my idea :)...We have three 20 min sessions to tell parents our expectations and sign up to volunteer, too. I like this format and gets all of my parents to be a part of our classroom.

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  29. We have meet the teacher where the students and parents come to drop off supplies and meet me. Then we have parent night where we go over all the policies, class rules, etc with the parents a few weeks after school is out. In the Spring we have Open House where the kids showcase their work.

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  30. This year we will have a meet and greet the day before school starts. I also have parent volunteers come in every morning (if possible) to review each child's reading homework(letter names, sounds, number recognition, sight words or books).

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  31. Hi! I love the name of your blog!! I just found it & I’m your newest follower!
    ✿Sue✿
    Science for Kids Blog

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  32. At our Open House, parents come and meet the teacher and we just give a very brief overview of the school rules and curriculum.

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  33. If my projector is working I present the parents with a powerpoint and try to explain procedures, expectations, & curriculum. However, because I translate everything, I never get to finish all I have planned to say. This year, I am giving out magnets with my info and an email created just for the parents. Hopefully that will help in being able to answer their questions or concerns.

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  34. We have a Back to School Day which is 100% teacher presentation!

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  35. We have a Meet the Teacher Night an evening before school starts. Then an Open House 2 weeks into the school year. All made by the teacher Power points. I love your motto!

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  36. I make power points for both our Meet the Teacher Night and Open House.

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  37. I mostly smile til my face hurts and run around waving like Miss America trying to speak to absolutely everyone, past, present, and future. Yeah, fun times. I need to win so I won't be such a loser at open house this year.

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  38. I am a first year teacher and have a kindergarten classroom. I am so excited about this school year. Parent-teacher collaboration is SO important. The more invested parents are in their child educational success the better. While this involvement differs greatly within the classroom, I want to give parents every opportunity to be as involved as possible. By having communication resources, such as the ones you are giving away, I feel it will help me get the year started out well. I want to make sure I have a good relationship between my students and their parents. :)

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  39. Last year was my first open house. I love the excitement of meeting students and their parents for the first time, even though it's stressful and a bit terrifying! I showed a powerpoint that told my goals for the year, school policies and what they could expect in the coming months. I also gave them a microwave popcorn packet that said "Thanks for poppin' in" :) I wanted my students and their parents to be excited and encouraged for the upcoming year!

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  40. Our open house will be the week before school starts. I like using parent volunteers to listen to kids count to 100 and read. I also use them as extra hands on busy project/party days. A fellow teacher had a parent who came in and made all her little paper books and put student work together to make their books. I wish I had a parent like that.

    Terri Izatt
    KinderKapers

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