Back to School Night
Back to school night has always been so fun for me growing up. I loved bringing my parents to my school and showing them where I sat, meet the teachers, see my friends, and where I spend 30+ hours a week. When I became a teacher, I thought, YES! Now I get to run the show and it is going to be phenomenal!!
Well, my first year for back to school night, no one showed. The principal came in my room and told me that usually no one shows for the special education classrooms and I was shocked! Don't the parents want to meet me? Don't they want to see the classroom? Who is in the class?
I know that I meet a lot of them the first day of school because parents want to meet the teacher who will be working with their student who has been diagnosed with a "moderate to severe disability." I get that that is a little different than other classrooms but I really thought someone would show. I told myself, next year I am going to make it happen. And this is how I did it.
Told the parents that their were treats to be had and a gift to pick up
I gave a weeks notice to the parents to let them know that back to school night is happening and that they won't want to miss it! A one-page flyer just saying something like..
A simple flyer can make it exciting for the parents and remind them that these events can be fun! The biggest concern I had from parents was that their child didn't want to go back to school later in the afternoon and the idea of "back to school night" was confusing to them. Which brings me to the next step.
Prepared my students
We used social stories for this dilema and we practiced what to expect. We explained that their parents wanted to see their classroom and that they would be coming back to show off the classroom. Then we practiced showing our desks, where we worked, our favorite toys, our art, and then they would give a gift, The treats also helped me bribe my students to come back to school at the end of the day. I don't suggest treats for good behavior but saying I was going to have bowls of goldfish crackers and some cookies excited them enough to come back.
Prepared my classroom with a fun theme that the students helped with
I have done different themes in my classroom for different events but my two favorite was a Movie Star theme and an Aquarium theme. Obviously pinterest helped me out tremendously for this part. We also made sure that work was up for the parents to see that looked like their child completed it!! Don't put up work that an aide did for a child. PSA: PARENTS ARE NOT IMPRESSED! Lastly.
I went to dollar tree to get little goodie bags/incentives
Yes, I know bribing parents with goodies to meet me is a little petty and no I am not saying you HAVE to do this to get people to show up. You can have the students make a gift for the parents. It doesn't have to be money from your own wallet to get parents to come to a school event if they don't want to go. BUT this is a great way to make it clear to the families you are working with that you strive for inclusion and that means them too!
Not sure if you know this, but a lot of parents with children with disabilities get a lot of pity and condolences and also feel excluded. How can WE teach them that inclusion is the right this to do for everyone?
Bottom line, if you want to encourage students and parents to come to an after school activity that they have never been to before, you might need to get creative to encourage them to come.
Inclusion starts with you
and I just want to help!