The beginning of the school year brings lots of new and exciting things for teachers, families, and students! One of those is always Back to School Night, where teachers get to meet the families of their new students. Here, we’ll give a few tips on how to engage your families before, during, and after Back to School Night using TalkingPoints.
Tip 1: Before: Get a pulse for attendance
If you already have family members’ phone numbers collected, send a poll to your classroom before Back to School asking who will be there!
With TalkingPoints, you can send your families a poll with a question that they can easily respond to, and their responses will be captured for you in a quick snapshot. This way, not only can you get a head count for Back to School night attendance, but will also help make families feel welcome ahead of the event.
Tip 2: During: Collect family member phone numbers and contact information
If you have not fully set up your TalkingPoints account yet, Back to School night is the perfect time to collect families’ phone numbers to make sure that you can stay touch with them throughout the year.
Print out copies of our Parent Contact Letters (available in over 30 languages) and hand them out as families enter your classroom. As they walk out, have them drop the filled out information in your box so you can add them to your TalkingPoints class!
Tip 3: During: Tell families about TalkingPoints and help them download the mobile app
Back to School night often consists of teachers informing their students and families of the classroom norms that they can expect throughout the coming year.
Make communicating through TalkingPoints one of your classroom norms! Let your families know about TalkingPoints using our Parent Presentation, available in our five most popular languages.
Tip 4: After: Send home takeaways from the night and handouts
Although Back to School is a great opportunity for families to learn more about you and the school, it can also be quite overwhelming for families to receive all the information at once.
You can use TalkingPoints to ease this stress a little bit by messaging some of the key points from the night, along with photos or PDFs of any handouts that you already sent home. Plus, TalkingPoints will do the majority of the heavy lifting for you in translating what you want families to know!
By sending out key points and handouts, you can also make sure families who were not able to make it to the event are included, and support them to know what to expect for the coming year.
Tip 5: After: Ask if families have any questions
Back to School is a great chance for families to ask questions to teachers and schools. Whether there’s a language barrier, they weren’t able to attend, or they just didn’t have a chance to ask, it’s likely that families will continue to have questions, so it’s great to follow up and let them know that you’re available.
Even if each family member doesn’t respond, this little gesture will make them feel like you are there to keep them informed, regardless of their ability to attend to school events in person.
Tip 6: After: Stay in contact!
This is one of the points that we like to harp on the most here at TalkingPoints. Staying in regular communication with families will make all the difference! Keeping frequent contact with families will keep them more engaged in your class community, and more importantly encourage partnership with you in supporting their children’s success.
Something as easy as sending a few messages a week will make you feel accessible to families, especially if you’re bridging the language barrier to reach them in their own language and meeting them where they are! To help you design and stick to a communication plan, check out our Sample Parent Engagement Plan or our Professional Development Guide.
We know the beginning of the school year can feel very busy – you’re building relationships not only with new students, but also with their families. We hope these tips will help you engage with families before, during, and long after Back to School Night, or any similar beginning-of-the-year events.
If you loved any of these tips, or have any other pointers for how you try to engage families during the Back to School period, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may even get featured in a blog post!