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Let’s talk today about parent nights and back to school nights to help kick off the start of this school year and as a way to advocate for your program.
The start of the school year brings a lot of different stressors. We want to build relationships with our students. We want to have a strong outline program and we also want to have support for our program. One of the key ways to do this is to have a well thought out and planned parent night or back to school night. So when it comes to promoting my PE program and advocating for it and building relationships with my parents, I really want my back to school night or my family night to be as engaging as possible. I want it to be a positive reflection of what my program is about. Not about the do’s and don’ts.
The family night for us at the secondary level was parents following their child’s schedule and being able to visit each classroom and see where their child would be learning. Being able to hear from the teacher about the year about the expectations and being able to see the environment in which they’re learning. So for me there were two major things that I decided to do to help me refresh and refocus my family nights.
The first one was I decided to open up every class period that I saw my parents with a fantastic slide show or I movie. I make sure to now take pictures and video throughout the year and save them in a file on my phone to where then I can drag and drop them into a template and easily insert a song with it and be able to play some sort of promotional video. This shows the parents, hey, look what we’re going to be learning about this year. Look at all the fantastic things that we’re doing and it really helps those parents who might have a negative perception or have had a negative experience in PE when they were growing up. It helps them to see that, wow, this is different and my child’s going to be doing a lot of fantastic things. So opening up with this visual, this strong message that they can see it through the student’s eyes of what they’re going to be doing is really impactful.
Secondly, I really like to emphasize with the parents my why, what’s my mission, what’s my philosophy for teaching physical education? And I love the Shape America statement, you know, for that the students will have the knowledge, skills, and confidence to lead a lifetime of healthful activity. My why wraps around that and just opening with that powerful visual and then a powerful emphasis on my own why really helps the parents know that this is going to be different and I want this to be a positive thing for them.
A couple other things that I like to do on these family as I like to have some sort of bulletin board or some pictures up so that when they’re coming down into the gym there’s a nice visual and that helps also sell the message and advocate for the program. Having extra copies of policy forms or any handouts that I want parents to grab or you know, having a QR code that might reference a website so that they can bookmark that also helps with that communication.
Then after that video or a slideshow visual, I just have a few slides and I mean four or five, you know at the most Power Point visuals with very limited information. Just those highlights that I needed to remind them of even though they’ve already probably seen all this information on the policy form and encouraging students, you know, to have their deodorant and their shoes or their class and encouraging parents to communicate with the students on how are they enjoying things, what are they learning about and what’s their personal hygiene plan and for using the locker rooms.
The last thing that I like to do is have a parent volunteer list. Having an annual fun run or other events within your PE program is a great way to advocate for your program and to build relationships with families and so sharing those events right away and asking for parents support is a big deal at any back to school night at the start of the school year. So have a volunteer list ready. Parents are always eager here to support their child, and then that’s a great way to start building relationships right away.
So I hope a few of these tips will help you kick off your school year in a great way with your back to school night and forming relationships with your parents and advocating for your program.