Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Open House

Two weeks ago I wrote about why I slice and working to cultivate my writing habit was one reason. I am excited to share that I was being a productive writer when I "skipped" slicing last week, because I was finalizing a piece that will actually be published in October.  Good excuse right?  But that's not what's really on my mind with this late night slice.

I got home from Open House about 30 minutes ago. As usual, I walked away feeling a little disappointed as I always have at this school for Open House. I would love to meet more parents.  This setting is the second school setting where I have been disappointed by the turnout. Certain classes are full of parents.  

We have 3000 students in our school. 3000 parents did not show up tonight.  In my position as reading coach, we do a reading parent meeting as an opportunity to meet potentially 1200 parents that have kids who are in a reading class.  Only two parents showed up.  We sent a letter home and we called.  Last year we tried other ways of reaching out after surveying parents about how when and how we should host meetings. We've even tried food!  What we are doing, we aren't doing it right. It's disappointing.

One of the two parents remarked, "The other parents must not care." It must look like that although  I never believe that statement when parents or teachers make it.  After twenty years of teaching, I still haven't met a parent who doesn't care about his or her child. I realize that some parents are ecstatic once their children reach high school and let them negotiate the process.  Some parents are exhausted and done.  Some parents are working.  All I know is that for teachers who have been at work since 6:30 this morning, what mattered most were the parents who came.  Tomorrow is another day to continue to reach out to parents and work with their kids.


  1. I understand how you feel. This is often how I feel after Open House as well, as we typically have very low turnout too. However, I try to focus on what the evening meant to the parents who DID come -- how happy they were to have their questions answered and to have a chance to talk. I'm also so happy that you recognized that just because they didn't come doesn't mean they don't care. Too many teachers are too quick to jump to that conclusion.

  2. It's hard not to be disappointed when parents don't come to school. One idea we tried was to offer to see parents in the morning before school for 15 minutes, or just after school. We got a few more, but still just a few. I truly wish we could capture a few minutes with every parent. You're right... they do care!

  3. I think it's so great that you're asking why didn't they come and trying to think of ways to excite them to come. So often it seems like educators just give up or don't think parents will ever come but I definitely think there has to be something that would excite them. Just like students, we don't just give up, we keep trying to understand and help them based on what they need.

    I wish there was an easy answer but I don't think there is. I would just say to keep trying and to keep trying different ideas and reaching out to parents to ask them what they really need. Do the students come with their parents? Do you offer childcare for younger siblings? Maybe it would be different if it was more than a meet the teacher but tied to students and their work somehow? Just some ideas...don't get discouraged. Keep it up!

  4. Keep at it. They do care. You are spot on when you say that what mattered were the two parents that did come. I had 35 of 150 parents. My husband remarked on the thirty percent turnout. I wonder what the pattern is for those "certain classes" ? What grade brings out the most parents? What subject? Are there any traits those high-turn-out rooms or teachers share? Curious.

  5. Keep trying and keep asking questions! I love that you recognize the many reasons that may have kept the parents away. So glad for you that two showed up!

  6. I communicate with 98% of my parents on a monthly basis, Beth. It's a conglomeration of mail merge, texts, emails, voicemails, appointments and calls. I do get to them all though.


Thanks for stopping by and commenting! Your words matter!