Are you thinking, Oh No!!! Another parent night, what am I going to do? Do you stay up worrying the night before?, or feel butterflies in your stomach? Are you self conscious about getting up and speaking in front of parents? Well, if you answered yes to any of these questions, you’re not alone.
My teaching partner and I came up with a way to make parent night fun for everyone, including ourselves, since neither of us likes to get up in front of an audience, other than our classroom, lol!
It happened one afternoon, after the kids had gone home. We wanted to do something different for parent night. Suddenly, the phrase, “Actions speak louder than words,” came into my head, and I had an Ah ha! moment. Why not show parents what our program is like instead of telling them. That’s how our Parent Night Video Program began.
We prepared for the taping by making sure we got the go ahead from the principal as well as all the teachers who work with our students. Next we let our classes in on it, and they just loved the idea.
When the appointed day arrived, we were at the front door, camcorder in hand, to tape them as soon as they got off the bus. We were greeted with waves and hellos as they entered the building and proceeded to their homerooms.
Mostly, we recorded the kids, but we also wanted to show our teaching style so the parents could get to know us a little, We would go back and forth between rooms creating a short video of both. This can be tricky because the kids are alone for a few minutes just about every period. It’s amazing how much you learn about yourself and your charges when you watch yourself teach. We always made sure that we captured each child doing something, we never wanted anyone to feel left out, or for any parent to say, “I didn’t see my Sally.”
After period one which was either history or science, we’d escort them to Unified Arts, taping while walking. Some of them would be sewing, others would be doing woodwork, art, or metal shop. Again we would go back and forth between classes doing our filming. Parents loved to see them in action, we’d hear “oohs and ahs,” as they saw their little ones using power equipment, or sewing machines, and cleaning up after themselves. They were in amazed at the types of things the kids did, especially in metal/wood-shop, without losing fingers or limbs.
Unified Arts were over, we would then tape either English or Math classes continuing to make sure that everyone was included.
At the finish of a busy morning, we would switch classes and get ready to go to lunch. which is a real trip. We filmed them going through the lunch line and showed the cafeteria staff serving their food. Watching their child eat, and what they threw away was eye opening for many parents.
Back to class to continue taping either math, English, world history or science classes. As the day drew to a close, you could still see us taping the children while in homeroom study period. and as their buses were being announced over the loudspeaker. Our ending statement says it all, “The last bus has been called, the room is empty, and quiet and sometimes we like it like that.” We always get chuckles from the parents because they can relate.
Our final step, before parent night, was to send notes home letting them know that they will be viewing a presentation of, A Day in the Life of their Child. Then we did some edits.
During the day of parent night, the class gets to see the end production, We give them popcorn or some type or snack and enjoy the movie together. We can now laugh at ourselves and congratulate the students for a job well done.
Parent night finally arrived and our production was ready for viewing. We introduced it and told them that the video will probably answer every question that they might have and it usually does. Jokingly we called ourselves Marin & Filipek DeMille after the Hollywood director Cecil B. DeMille and the parents chuckled over that. The ice had been broken and we’re ready to begin.
Of course, there were times when the unexpected happened, like the video player doesn’t work, or we can’t find the TV that we signed up for. We’re all human, and these things occur. We took it in our stride and the parents were understanding. Eventually, we got everything up and running and all were happy.
The best part is to watch the reactions of the parents as they watch their kiddos in action. They marvel at how busy they are and how
much work is done throughout the day. They’ve never seen how their child behaves in school and they just love this. Better still, they realize what a difficult job we, as teachers have trying to tame these middle school children.
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