Came across this article written by Heather Wolpert-Gawron on the Edutopia website discussing the “5 Must-Haves” for back to school night. This article was written by a Middle School English teacher but the main points are universal to all classrooms and teachers. Here is the breakdown:
#1 Sign-ins on every table: This is to alleviate a bottleneck at the door or around one single sign in table. From my experience, this actually increases the number of sign ins and the quality of information you get from parents.
#2 Brochures: Or a handout, gives something parents can take with them with your contact information and classroom policies. Leaving their attention for your presentation and saving them from taking notes. I would often include the course syllabus that I gave to students as well. This is also a great time to leave out information about how to donate materials and supplies for the class.
#3 Classroom Constitution: This is a behavioral and academic contract that all students helped create. I never did that in my high school classes but it sounds like a great activity. In my room I would go over this topic in a handout and in the presentation.
#4 Powerpoint/Keynote/Google Presentation: Art being so visual, this was a great opportunity to show off some student work and get parents excited about the projects while going over my grading, attendance and other classroom policies.
#5 The Classroom Environment: This is how your classroom looks and feels when parents are invited in. They want to have the same feeling of wonder and excitement that their students might feel entering the room daily. Our art rooms are especially vital because we are often the only ambassador for the Arts parents and their students will ever meet. Having a disorganized and chaotic room will project that we don’t have our stuff together and we shouldn’t be taken seriously. Obviously, the art room is going to be the messiest and most colorful room in the school but the feelings of warmth and creativity should shine through over everything else.
Here are example slides from my Drawing/Painting 1-2 classes. Parents always asked, “how do you grade art anyway?” I answered that question with a couple slides breaking down the grading process, while hammering home the importance of participation and attendance. Two of the largest reasons students would fail at the high school level.
Important for parents with students new to the arts program was letting them know about the other program options and opportunities that followed an introduction level course. Of course, Middle School Art teachers or those of you at smaller schools may not have other courses for them to take. You could talk about other electives and how Art relates to gaining confidence, like I did in the slide below: