An open house can be counted a success when parents, teachers and students walk away smiling. However, there are many pitfalls in staging an open house. Here are some tips to avoid the typical problems and to create a great experience for all.
Problems & Solutions
At most middle schools during the open house, parents and students wander into a teacher's room at any time. The biggest problem is that a large group walks in the door at the same time. Every person wants to talk to the teacher. To avoid the common pitfalls of this year's open house, try these solutions.
Problem #1 -- One set of parents has specific questions about the course of study or units of study, and other parents would like to meet you.
Solution: Create a bulletin board with major units of study displayed. Each unit can be a different color with basic ideas in bullets. Posting major projects with deadlines and your homework policy is also valuable information for the parents.
Problem #2 -- A set parents wants to have a pre-parent teacher conference with you about their child.
Solution: This is supposed to be a "meet and greet" time for parents and teachers. When parents start asking parent-teacher conference type questions, politely request that they schedule a conference with you before or after school.
Problem #3 -- Students or a set of parents want to know specifics about school supplies and there is a room full of people.
Solution: In advance, buy sample items for parents and students to touch and view. Then, create a bulletin board or table display of all the items that you would like your students to purchase. Send the parents to the display so that you can meet other parents.
Problem #4 -- A parent will not allow other parents to talk to you. They seem to be "holding you hostage" during the open house.
Solution: Create a parent newsletter for the opening of school. Have it displayed neatly with a plate of cookies or a basket of candy. Walk the parent over to the newsletter display and then quickly introduce yourself to other parents.
Problem #5 -- Parents walk in your room two minutes before the open house is over for the evening or day.
Solution: Introduce yourself, hand them a parent newsletter and offer to set up a conference for a later date.
Post sign up sheets for parent-teacher conference times, ask for parent email addresses and phone numbers, hand out sheets with your school email address and school phone number.
As you plan your open house, think about solutions to problems you have had in the past. Usually, the open house is scheduled in the evening when you are exhausted. It should be a positive experience for the teacher, the parents and the students.