Flip Your Back-to-School Night

Back-to-School Night is the one evening each year when I have the opportunity to connect face-to-face with my students’ parents. Unfortunately, not all parents can attend Back-to-School Night. Some of my parents work at night or they are at home with their other children. So, three years ago I began flipping my Back-to-School Night presentation in the hopes of reaching more of my parents.

This is how I flip my Back-to-School Night.

Quick Introduction – My Teaching Philosophy

I use QuickTime, a free program on my Mac, to record a short video. I introduce myself to parents and share my teaching philosophy. I know my class is not your typical English class, so I want parents to understand why we do what we do. I explain why I believe it’s important to place students at the center of learning in the classroom and how I use blended learning strategies and technology to create a student-centered learning experience.

I emphasize that the way students communicate is changing and that directly impacts how I approach the design of our class. Students engage in face-to-face conversations, asynchronous online discussions, and 140 character Twitter-style interactions. I want parents to feel confident that I am teaching their children how to navigate online spaces in a kind, respectful, supportive, and substantive way. Most of their students are already stomping around the internet, so I want to make sure their digital footprints are something they can be proud of.

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Virtual Tour of Our Classroom Resources

I record a screencast taking parents on a virtual tour of our class website, shared Google calendar, flipped YouTube videos, StudySync site, Google Classroom, and Schoology online discussions. I want parents to know where they can find out what’s happening in class, access resources to support their students, and which go-to web tools we’ll be using on a regular basis.

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Animoto Video Featuring Their Students

I take photos of my students in the first few weeks of school and use those photos to create an Animoto video to share with parents. Since most parents never get to see their high school students in the classroom, I like to provide them a window into our classroom so they can see their children working, discussing, collaborating, engaging, and creating. This is a favorite with parents!

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I send each parent an email with links to my flipped Back-to-School Night and Animoto videos. In the body of the email, I also include instructions for signing up for text message reminders with Remind and a link to a parent survey using a Google Form.

Even the parents who attend Back-to-School Night have said they appreciate the email with videos and links because Back-to-School Night is a blur of information (much like the first day of school). They know they can go back and rewatch the video if they want a review of the class or need to find a resource.

Flipping my Back-to-School Night is also a wonderful way to introduce my students’ parents to the flipped classroom model. This is a strategy I use for vocabulary, writing, and grammar instruction, so it’s helpful to allow parents an opportunity to experience it for themselves. Once parents have had the chance to engage with information in a flipped format, most are excited to hear that I am using that same strategy with their students.

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8 Responses to Flip Your Back-to-School Night

  1. Julie Lemley says:

    Thanks for sharing this. This is a great idea. Parents are so bombarded with information at Parent Night, especially parents whose first language is not English. This is also a great resource to have to share with new families as new students enter throughout the year.

  2. Kathy Booth says:

    I love this idea! This will also be useful for parents w ho have multiple students in the school. What a great way to introduce them to the idea of a flipped classroom.

  3. Pingback: Flip Your Back-to-School Night | | EdTech | Sc...

  4. Andi Tzabari says:

    I am trying to flip my back to school nigh this year. What do you do with parents once they show up if you presented most stuff via video? Thanks Andi

    • Hi Andi,

      I find that I have more time to actually go into detail and answer specific questions on the actual evening as opposed to racing through information they probably won’t remember. If parents can access the basic info online then we can have a conversation about the bigger issues related to the course at Back-to-School Night.

      Good luck!

      Catlin

  5. Stephanie Gemmen says:

    Hi Catlin,

    I know this is an older post, but I was wondering if you could possibly show an example of what a parent survey might look like. Thanks so much! Your website has helped me often as a newer teacher.

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