I have 11 year old twins that are in 7th grade. (Wow, just writing that made me feel a little old). We just had back to school night a few nights ago and I was surprised at the setup. I want to explain the difference between last year’s back to school night and this year’s.
Last year, I had a handwritten schedule from my student that allowed me to go to each class for a defined amount of time. It was a condensed version of what the school day was like for my children. (I had double duty so I stayed half the time in each session so that I could meet all of my children’s teachers). As I went from class to class, each teacher had a well-prepared presentation for the parents. It explained the class expectations, the syllabus, and classroom rules. I left last year’s Back to School Night feeling well-informed, tired, and confident about my students’ success.
This year, the setup was much more free-flowing. Instead of set periods of time to go from class to class, the school allowed for parents to go to any classroom, in any order. When I got to each class, there was a line of parents waiting to speak to the teacher about their individual student’s status. I wasn’t able to wait out the line in a couple of the classes because my 2 year old kept throwing tantrums about being hot (in the poorly air-conditioned rooms). There were no set presentations from the teachers, and things seemed very disorganized. I left there feeling like I didn’t get to learn as much about the teachers.
I wonder who invented Back to School Night, and what was their vision for it? I think of back to school night as a precursor to parent-teacher conferences, report cards, and progress reports. I think Back to School Nights are a brief opportunity for parents to observe their children’s learning environment, to see some of their accomplishments, and to get a formal introduction to their student’s teachers.
Regardless of how things were structured, I am glad I had the opportunity to go. I think it is very important to be actively involved in your children’s education. Any investment that furthers the betterment of their future is well worth it. My children were thrilled to show me their classrooms, where they sat, and the places they go with their friends. It may not have satisfied my expectations, but sharing that experience with them was priceless. After all, you don’t get an infinite amount of these opportunities. I only have 5 more Back to School Nights with them; time sure does fly.
Sharing the sunshine of life; balancing wife, mom, faith, and purpose.