Back-to-School Night Stations: A Twist on the Traditional Presentation

Back-to-School Night Stations: A Twist on the Traditional Presentation

I’m not sure about you, but I always kind of dread Back-to-School Night. It’s late, I’m usually exhausted from the first couple of weeks of school, and many times the turnout isn’t even that great.

I’ve had my fair share of Back-to-School Nights. I’ve done the standard ten-minute presentation where I talk about the class the entire time. I’ve had parents write notecards to their students. I even tried playing Kahoot! with parents one year, and that was just a trainwreck. Even with the best-laid plans, Back-to-School Nights are just awkward.

At my school, we have six class periods. We have a ten-minute presentation for each class period that is supposed to be just for that class. Then, there is a ten-minute passing period. Parents often come in right at the start of the passing period, and for me, it’s just awkward having that weird silence with some parents waiting as I awkwardly stand at the door trying to guess what parents are mine.

So this year, I tried something new. I’ll admit, I was a bit apprehensive because of my massive Kahoot! fail before, but after discussing the idea and planning it all with my friends during one of our lunches together, we all went ahead and did stations. Overall, all four of us said that this setup for Back-to-School Night was a success!

As the parents walked in, I greeted them at the door and invited them to look around the room and see all of the different stations on the different tables. I also provided them with a one-page informational sheet containing all of the stations' information. This way, if parents didn’t want to participate in stations, they didn’t have to. When our ten-minute session began, I briefly introduced myself and the station activity with a one-slide presentation.

I had six stations for my Back-to-School Night, and I’ll probably tweak them a bit for next year, but here is what I did.

Back-to-School Night Station 1: I wish they knew…

During the day, I had students respond to the prompt “I wish my parent(s) knew…” on a sticky note. It was an anonymous response, and they shared their notes on the whiteboard in the back of my room. At BTS Night, parents read the notes and wrote their own, responding to the prompt, “I wish my child knew…” Parents placed their sticky notes on a piece of chart paper, which is still on the inside of my classroom door.

Now, this was a heavy station. Many students are stressed, and some were really, really honest. But to even it out, some of the responses praised their parents and talked about how much they admired them. Still, though, it was heavy. However, I heard great feedback from the parents about it.

Back-to-School Night Station 2: Amazon Wishlist

At the start of the session, I told parents this was entirely optional. I also joked about teenagers needing 10 tissues each time they blow their noses. This is my first ever year creating a wishlist for my classroom and sharing it with parents, and they were excited to help out and contribute. Some parents even talked about how they always bought supplies for elementary because lists were sent home, but nothing goes home in high school.

Back-to-School Night Station 3: Curriculum

I placed all of the class novels and textbooks on the tables for this station. I had a brief overview of our units for the year, and I invited parents to look over the supplies.

Back-to-School Night Station 4: Syllabus

I had my syllabus out for parents to look at and QR codes taking them to the place where they could add in the digital signature.

Back-to-School Night Station 5: Sign-in and Remind

At this station, I had my sign-in sheets and a QR code for parents to sign up for my class Remind.

Back-to-School Night Station 6: Class Calendar

Did I mention that I had all the QR codes? At this station, I shared a QR code to my Google Doc class calendar that I plan on. This document has all of our plans for the entire semester. It includes what lessons we do, it has hyperlinks to presentations, and it says what is due when.

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Overall, the stations were a huge success. I didn’t have parents rotate at specific time intervals. Instead, they were free to visit whichever station they wanted whenever they wanted to. Since the turnout wasn’t too high, about a quarter to a third of parents per class, there was room for that. Also, this time allowed for me to talk to individual parents if they wanted to.

Back-to-School Night Stations: A Twist on the Traditional Presentation