This time of the year, many of us are preparing for a parent night of some kind at our schools. This actual question was crowd-sourced recently on our list serv, and I chimed in (with what else? Cathy Nelson’s Professional Thoughts!!) But I do think some of the responses were worthy of blogging. So here is the question, and then following are some of the responses.
If you were given the opportunity to have a group of parents for ten minutes, what would you share/show with them?
- From ME–Yours truly–waxing political: Reading programs through the library, DISCUS and how it benefits the entire school community, how to access from home, etc. Maybe even how much the total package costs and how our legislators are fund it annually, and that we all need to thank them every opportunity we get. Parents are for the most part tax payers so should see where their tax dollars are going.
- From Barabara (and how TOUCHING! ♥ this): It doesn’t matter if a child can read a book by themselves, reading should be a shared event. I still read to my grandchild, who, at 14, reads at the same level as I do. When she was 9, she had brain surgery to remove a tumor. The nurse could not give her pain meds until her blood pressure, breathing, and heart rate steadied. I read The Tale of Desperaux aloud to her. In less than ten minutes, all vitals were within normal standards, and she got her pain meds. This is the absolute truth—the nurse had never seed anything like it. The power of reading works!
The books change, but the experience of sharing a book, talking about a character or plot point, and laughing about funny or stupid things the characters do is a valuable experience. Turn off the TV. Read with your children every night.
- From Cindy (and an excellent suggestion): I would make sure I gave them something in writing. Discus, programs to help students, what you do. By the time they arrive home, they may have forgotten what you said, but they now have it in writing, especially passwords. Don’t forget to include your phone number and hours of operation.
- From ME again (I added to the above suggestion with this): And thinking through my National Board filter–leave exit slips and pens or pencils out so that parents might respond with questions for more info or comments about your session. This can provide INVALUABLE feedback, and bonus, some might be good for a documentation piece to include in an entry 4 portfolio (if you choose parent night as a documented accomplishment.)
Some things I didn’t put on the listserv response but think are worthy of mentioning:
- At my school various groups and organizations meet either just before or even during the parent night event. We encourage those groups to use the library since it is centrally located and easily accessible. We have fliers and other assorted information available and we add it to the mix of the group’s handouts.
- With many teachers already using their technology in the classroom, why not create a slide or two to send to them to add to their slide deck they plan to use on parent night? And don’t forget to send some literature to the classrooms too! After all, much of our own curriculum and standards are tightly entwined with classroom standards. Teachers can be our biggest advocates.
- Create a 30 second video PSA to play schoolwide on parent night. I’ve seen principals use the school video distribution system to address parents on parent night before. Why not ask for a short spot on the program to address parents as well? Then when the video portion of that principal’s address is done, have ready a looping powerpoint of announcements about the school wide program and add to that library information. If you offer to create this for the school, you are assured of getting library information on it. This will probably be on the screen (or TV) in each room until teachers are ready to do their own conversation with attending parents.
- Many parent nights begin with a general assembly (like a PTA or PTSO meeting.) If you can’t get on the agenda in the general assembly, then make a trifold board display parents will pass upon entering that includes information about the library. Low tech, yes, but also effective in ensuring parents know and realize the library is for and about student learning. This is also very effective if the library itself is off the beaten path parents will take to visit classrooms.
So now can you add any suggestions to this list? We’d love to hear back from you.
Check out Gwyneth Jones’ (The Daring Librarian) video from last year. I think it would be perfect for a parent night too.