Thursday, July 5, 2012

Meet the Teacher Night

It is probably THE most dreaded night of the year. Moreso than Parent Orientation Night ( I think some of you call this Parent Information Night) . Moreso than Open House. It's "Meet The Teacher" night.

Now, I probably shouldn't do TOO much complaining here. For one thing, in our district, each school sets their own timeline and 'rules' for Meet The Teacher. Our principal is electing to keep it low-key.....THANK YOU!!! Ours is only an hour..(some schools in our district have a 3 hour window)which has its good points and bad points. But then again, that hour is WHIRLWIND!!! This is how ours goes:

Usually (or at least in the past) we do not get our class list until Wednesday or Thursday of the teacher workweek back because of all the 'new' kids that register that week and the 'switching around' of kiddos to keep our classes balanced.(We start the Monday before the kids). On Thursday afternoon, we are asked to call and personally contact each student to:
 1) let them know we are their teacher and
2) personally invite them to Meet The Teacher so they can, well, meet us and see their classroom which we have been feverishly trying to put together in between trainings and inservices and professional developments!!

THIS is the first part of this routine I hate....the phone calls. I am not much of a phone person...unless I can text. Part of that is because of a near-fatal case of spinal meningitis as a child, and numerous ear infections, I have difficulty hearing. I'm not deaf. But there are certain situations that make me realize how much I depend on lip-reading rather than hearing someone. The main situation that makes that astoundingly clear is talking on the phone. Our phones have volume control....and mine is ALL the way up. Still, this is particularly difficult to understand some people....especially some of our sweet little ESL parents, on the phone.

Now, I have had some HILARIOUS  (and not so funny) conversations with parents at this time. I had a parent pick up the phone last year while I went into my usual dialogue....something like this:
"Hello? Mrs. Bob? This is Ms. Skipper with ____ Elementary. I am calling to let you know that I am SO excited that little Phillip Johnny is going to be in my class this year! I also wanted to let you know that from 3-4 tomorrow afternoon, you and little Phillip Johnny can come up to the school, see his classroom, meet me and bring his school supplies up if you'd like."

(At this point I wait for a response) ...that is my USUAL routine.
 However, last year with a particular parent, once I explained who I was, she began HUMMING. as in singing to herself without words
. And about halfway through my spiel, I had to stop.
 I wasn't sure if she was being rude (Did she NOT want me as a teacher?) or if something was wrong (was she being held hostage and trying to get a message to me.....yeah, my mind went there!) or WHAT was wrong.
So, I stopped in the middle of my script and said, " Um, Mrs. Bob? Are you OKAY?"
She immediately gasped and began laughing hysterically while trying to explain that she thought I was a recording because of the school phone service...and with 3 kids she gets SO many recorded calls from the different schools that she thought I was one of them.
She was mortified....I thought it was hilarious!!
I have had parents make statements before like " Oh, darn....we wanted Mrs. So and So" (dagger to the heart)
or " Well, you REALLY have your work cut out for you" (thanks for the heads up)
or  " Hope you're better than Mrs. So and So from last year" (um....okay? I'm not bashing a colleague over the phone OR in person....sorry!)
I've also had some SWEET comments...but for some reason its the ones that make you feel bad that sometimes stick with you!
ANYWAY, the phone calls are the first thing I hate about MTT night.

Second is the double edged sword....the time. It's in the afternoon....usually 3-4 on the Friday before school begins on a Monday. While it is nice to only have parents and students there for an hour, its also very CHAOTIC.
They line up outside our school they are trying to get into a rock concert or something.Then when they 'release the hounds''s every man for himself.
CROWDS of people come in....parents, siblings, your student, sometimes's a LOT of people.
Half of the time I am trying to figure out which kid is my student and trying to put a face with a name, and HOPE I can remember it all the while parents are trying to tell me EVERY important detail they think I need to know about their little darling!!! (Like I will remember!!)

Our school also offers prepackaged supplies.Another double edged sword. It's a great thing because all the supplies are uniformed.....everyone has the same thing....that is, everyone who BUYS it. But because of the cost, many people have elected to buy their own supplies and bring them.....which leads to someone buying things NOT on the list.....which, as a teacher IRKS me!!! Then the fight is on about why little Suzie has her GINORMOUS box of 300 crayons while everyone else has 24...and of course, little Suzie doesn't want to share!! This year, we made GREAT effort to reduce our school supply list and make it even more affordable!  And because of that, I am going to stick to my guns and have the rule of " you get what everyone else gets or keep it at home". (I know, mean, but cuts down on the arguements!)
I got our list down to a mere $30, which I think is VERY reasonable!!! This year, we are doing binders instead of folders. I'm hoping this helps my little darlings with their organization skills....since that is something that drives me NUTS!!! I'll post more on our binders later!!

Because of the choas that ensues with so many people coming in so quickly and me trying to remember exactly what they told me about if they brought supplies or not, how they go home, if they are buying lunch and put money in their account and what allergies or special notes I need to know immediately.....I created this little gem! I run it front and back and it is my 'go to' list that first day!! Our Parent Information Night is the 2nd night of school, so at that time I have the parents fill out an emergency form for me!!! But THIS lets me know what I need to know quickly for the first day! I also got the WONDERFUL idea from a teacher blog last year (or maybe it was pinterest)....I honestly do NOT remember the source, but thank you whoever you are....of going to get big brown grocery bags (begging the local Tom Thumb!) and writing each student's name on it. Having them put their supplies in it, and stapling it up and putting it at the back of the room so I can sort it out later when they are gone!!! I LOVE that idea!!! Then I don't have to spend a ton of time having my students go through their things, put things in different spots in the classroom while their siblings destroy my room!!!
Here is my freebie! Feel free to grab!( I didn't make it pdf because most of you will need to 'tweak' it, I assume!  FYI: Pasar is our after school daycare hosted on campus.) If you need the powerpoint version of it, email me and I will get it to you!

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