Every year, within a few days of school starting, most schools hold the traditional Back To School Night. Parents come to meet their child’s teacher and hear an overview of the new school year. At my school, there are often many children in attendance with their parents. This is usually because of child care, and sometimes because the child is the translator for the parent.
My 2nd grade team of four teachers started making this event a team presentation a few years ago, with all our parents in attendance in the same room. Our goals have been to educate the parents to grade level expectations, district and state mandates, and general school information.
Three years ago, Whole Brain Teaching entered the second grade classrooms of my school! Back To School Night has not looked the same since! Parents come in prepared for a “typical” listen to a short teacher spiel, grab a handout, and move onto the sibling’s classroom talk! They’ve just come from work, soccer practice, etc. Needless to say, they are weary and just want to check off the yearly “obligation box”!
Now, to better illustrate what’s coming, I need to back up to the first day of school. If this is the first time to my blog, please read the post prior to this one, where I describe introducing students to Whole Brain Teaching. By the time our school hosts Back To School night, our students have had five full days of instruction, rules, and procedures using WBT techniques. On the day of the parent event, each of the team teachers explains to her students that if they attend that evening, they might be called on to demonstrate what they have been doing in school so far.
Picture a packed cafeteria of parents, grandparents, children, siblings and the general loud echoes of voices bouncing off the bare walls.
“Class! Class!” “Yes! Yes!” “Classity, class!” “Yesity, yes!”
The 2nd grade students’ voices swell in unison, like a well oiled machine, from every corner in the room! And then there is silence! Oh, yeah! Parents are stunned, and students are beaming!
“Bodies, up!” “Bodies, up! Up! Up!” Every 2nd grade student is now standing! You can still hear a pin drop! “Line!” “Line! Line! Line!” The students make their way from their positions near family to the front of the room!
With almost 80 students now standing up front facing the audience, we start the presentation of the 5 Rules! What a chorus line! And then, the roar of applause and whistles fill the room! What a moment of celebration!
“Seat!” “Seat! Seat! Seat!” The students quickly and quietly return to their places in the audience. Let the teacher presentation begin!
The power of that quick student performance cemented the strength of the second grade team by showing the parents that our teachers and students, and now parents, will work as a team to reach the same goal…a fantastic education for the children based on state, district, and school site standards and expectations!
Each teacher then proceeds to explain a portion of the 2nd grade plan, and the use of Whole Brain Teaching to reinforce and individualize the instruction for each child. Not one parent left the assembly early, and the handouts were sought out!
The school year has now officially begun! First Hour! First Day! First Parent Team Meeting! It’s going to be a great year! No “bench warmers” in this crowd! Oh, yeah!