Sunday, August 2, 2015

Meet the Teacher Tips, Ideas, & Freebies

I love Meet the Teacher night, even though it STILL makes me a nervous wreck--and this will be my 10th year--HA!  (New teachers, sorry--even the first day of school still gives me butterflies.  I think it's totally normal.  Or maybe it's just me.  Don't know for sure.)  Anyway...

I love meeting my new students and their parents!  And, though I know the parents want to talk to me too, I try to focus most of my attention on my new little friends.  Those first interactions with the kids are SO important.  I want them to feel welcomed, excited, and comfortable in their new classroom.  I want to begin building trust--because, let's face it, MOST of the kids are going to be pretty nervous.  They are also probably wondering, "WHERE is my Kindergarten teacher? Who is this lady???" So I SMILE, lean down to their level, and ask them lots of questions--mostly about what they've been up to all summer.  If I am with an extremely shy little friend, I ask if they want to look around their new classroom, or I'll show them pictures of my family and my dog out of my autobiography booklet that I bought here.   (One of my most used and favorite TpT purchases ever!) I always get a smile when they see a picture of my pug, Teddy!  Basically, I just talk their little ears off, and I smile so much that my face hurts afterward.

I have a classroom blog, and I know many parents check it out before school begins.  I write a welcome note to my students on the blog, and then I try to follow it up with a few reminders about Meet the Teacher night for the parents.  Last year, I posted these informational posters on my class blog prior to the big night:

Tips to make things run smoothly!

Our class supply list with PHOTOS!  There was some confusion in years past about certain supplies we asked for--so I figured the photos would help when they are out shopping!

I also included my class wish list, which I put on display in the classroom on Meet the Teacher night, as well.  The wish list changes from year to year.  {I am so thrilled that many of these items are actually on our actual supply list this year!}

I haven't always used folders for meet the teacher--I used to just neatly lay out all the papers that needed to be filled out on each child's desk.  It got a little confusing, and parents weren't sure what should stay and what should go home with them.  I love using the folders because it makes the desks look clean and tidy.  The inside pockets of the folder are clearly labeled with items parents need to fill out and leave with me, and which items they should take home (I paper clip all the take-home items together as well).  I also ask parents to leave the folders so that I can reuse them the following year!

Inside the folder, I place a "Meet Mrs. Cooley" letter, and a sealed envelope (OH, the MYSTERY of it all!) that has a night before first grade letter/poem and a little baggie of jitter glitter!  You can download your free copies of the label and letter under my "freebies" tab!

Parents also fill out a student information form (really just home contact info.) and 
labels for transportation...which you can read more about below:

The most important information I get from the parents at Meet the Teacher is HOW their child will go home from school the first couple of days, and then the remainder of the year. The parents are responsible for filling out labels with their child's name and transportation for the first days.  I check, double check, and then triple check each child's transportation information on the first day of school. The last thing anyone wants to do on the first day is send a kid home the wrong way!  As a matter of fact, on the first day of school, I start prepping for dismissal about 35 minutes before the bell rings.  I stick the labels the parents filled out on each of the kids, check them against my list, and then do a practice line up and we talk about/model that no one should ever leave the dismissal line until Mrs. Cooley says their name, looks at their tag, and says goodbye.   I may be a little obsessive about dismissal.  It just stresses me the most out of anything!!!


Oh, how I love the school supplies!  One of the main tasks I have the parents do is help me to sort their child's supplies--it doesn't take them but a few minutes, and their help saves me oodles of time for the days when I need to be planning for the first day of school--and labeling every notebook in THE WORLD.  (Doesn't it seem like that?  Labels for days, I tell you!)  To help the sorting go smoothly, I have signs & buckets at the front of the room for community supplies, and then a PowerPoint slide showing which items should be placed inside their desks.

{Download your free copy of these supply sorting station posters here.}


And because Meet the Teacher is all about the kids, I make sure to have a little something special for my new first graders to take home.  

I gave out rock candy last year, and it was a hit!

 I matched the rock candy to the tiffany blue in my room--like the kids care--ha!  I thought it was cute, though. :)

I have seen so many amazing ideas for goodies to send home, and I can't decide what I would like to do this year--but here are a few ideas with links for you:

Mrs. Gilchrist's Class
Pop Rocks could be a little cheaper option than rock candy!  Dollar Tree usually carries them!

First Grade and Fancy Free
This is so cute.  And who doesn't love a Little Debbie cupcake!?  Yum.

Love that label!  And I bet one box of cereal would be enough to fill snack sized baggies for the whole class!

Last, but not least, I always have a few volunteer forms on display on the front board.  I keep it simple.  Basically, there are 3 main jobs parents can sign up for:

1.  Room Mom
 The last couple of years, I have been sure to add a list of some of the room mom responsibilities to the sign up page--I think some aren't sure what the job entails!  Some moms are hesitant to sign up because they have jobs or small children--so I always leave it open for several moms (or dads) to sign up to work together! 

2.  Class Party Helpers
Even if a parent isn't able to be a room mom or dad,  many are willing and able to send items for parties, or offer to help the room mom plan the class parties.  After Meet the Teacher, I just send that form home with the new room mom, and she can contact those parents when it is time to plan for the parties!  

3.  Volunteer at School
This form is for any parents who can come in one day (or even just a few hours in the week) to help laminate, cut, copy, etc.  I have only had maybe one or two years in which no one could come.  {It doesn't hurt to ask!}  Sometimes the room mom will take over this duty, as well.  These volunteers are incredible--at our school, many come in on Thursdays or Fridays and help get things ready for the following week.

Here are examples of the volunteer forms I use:


Well, that's how I tackle Meet the Teacher!  Our Meet the Teacher is this Thursday!  
I am so very excited to begin a new year, and see all their sweet little faces!  


Beth said...

can we purchase an of these meet the teacher papers? Also, I love the jitter glitter but I teach K and would love to edit that part. thanks!

Mrs. B said...

LOVE your idea to use folders for all of the papers! That seems to be the most confusing part for my parents, too, so I bet that will be a big help this year. The only downside is that all of my papers come from the office and sometimes we don't get them until the day of!

Unknown said...

Can we purchase an editable version of the supplies and wish lists?

Mrs. Wilson said...

Thanks for the cute letter freebie! I was wondering if you have one or could make one for a Kindergartener? Also-- do you sell your information sheets? THANKS!

Elementary AMC said...

Thanks so much for sharing all of these wonderful ideas and for the freebie too!!

Erin said...

I am preparing for my very first year teaching and am more stressed about meet the teacher night than anything else. This post is wonderful and has calmed my fears a lot! Thank you so much!

Unknown said...

LOVE your folder idea! Where can I find/buy the labels for the outside cover and inside pockets? I may want to tweak a tad - are they editable?

Miss M said...

Love your ideas! I was wondering if you had an editable version of the visual school supply list? It looks ah-maz-ing! I think it would be so helpful for parents!!

Thanks in advance,


Unknown said...

Do you have an editable version of the classroom supply list? This would be great for my ESL kiddos!


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