Is it Meet The Teacher Night? Back To School Night? Curriculum Night?
Whatever your child’s school calls it, parents generally arrive with high expectations and leave disappointed, feeling that they didn’t get enough time with their teacher or weren't able to ask enough questions because they didn’t know what to anticipate.
Let me explain what you can realistically expect. Your kid’s teacher(s) will introduce themselves and hopefully provide an overview of the year. No, you’re not going be able to drill your teacher about how your child is doing after 10 days in school or why the cafeteria is so loud, but you can anticipate getting a pretty good idea about what is going to happen in the classroom.
Here is a list of topics that I usually cover. Prepare yourself by thinking of possible questions.
The Daily Schedule
You’ll be told, more or less, what your child will be learning during the day. Whether it is math, language arts or science or art, you should understand what they do when during the week. And be sure to find out when your kid’s class eats lunch and has recess. The times can different dramatically between grades, especially if your child’s school is overcrowded. One year my class ate lunch at 10:15 am.
General Curriculum Overview
This should provide you with the big ideas in the curriculum. It might be anything from state history and geography, geometry, certain parts of speech or volcanoes, but it will clue you in to what will be taught and what you can expect your child to learn.
The teacher should explain how much students are expected to do and what their system is (a weekly packet, nightly or a mix?) and what your responsibilities are. This is where your participation is key, so pay attention.
You’ll hear about any major field trips, whether you may be invited to help and what forms will be required.
How and when can you volunteer? (this may include fundraising!)
How can you get in touch with the teacher? Most teachers have a dedicated email address, (or at least they should), to make general announcements about goings-on in the classroom but there may be other methods as well. Find out the best way to stay in touch.
When are those darn state tests? Find out the testing dates and the teacher’s approach to test preparation. You can also ask about what assessments the teacher uses to keep track of how students are progressing.
Remember, the main reason you attend Meet The Teacher Night is to do exactly that: Meet your child’s teacher! Pay attention to the academic details, but more importantly, listen to who the teacher is and their style of communicating, so you and your child know what to expect for the upcoming year.
If one of the above topics isn’t covered, throw a question at them, but this is not the time to ask specific questions about your child. Save that for a private meeting, such as a Parent/Teacher conference (coming up in November).