My school’s Open House structure is probably similar to yours: parents follow a compressed version of their child’s schedule for 11 minutes each class, plus 2 minutes of travel time. That is a very short period, especially for the latecomers who trickle in the first few minutes. Before you know it, we hear the intercom announcement for parents to move on, and I’m shaking hands on their way out while the next group pours in. Frankly, I think I put on a pretty good show for those 11 minutes, and the past few years I have felt successful and confident as I drive home at 8:30pm.
So before I consider big flipping changes to my Open House presentation, I should define my goals and objectives. Yeah that’s right: let’s treat this like any other lesson plan.
By the end of this 11-minute session, parents will be able to:
- feel confident and comfortable about having their child in my class
- identify ways to contact me throughout the year (e.g., email > school phone)
- observe several class organization systems that support their child (including the Schoology website, classroom calendar, extra handouts zone)
- witness at least one piece of their own child’s work that shows effort and learning
- access key information about the course curriculum and policies
- state several ways that flipped-homework assignments lead to better learning
When I attended my 7th grade daughter’s Open House earlier this week, I came with several general questions about each class: Does this teacher seem relatable to middle-schoolers? competent with their subject? available for me and my child to contact? Is he/she well-organized? Does this room feel like a good place for my child to learn? Can I respect their approach to homework, projects, quiz retakes, etc.?
Many of these questions get answered by first impressions within about 60 seconds. In terms of my own “lesson plan” objectives, I address objectives #1- 4 immediately by displaying examples of student work, with clear signage and layout of the classroom, and during my opening speech about how much I love working with 8th grade students. (“You think I’m crazy for choosing to work with 13-year-olds, but let me tell you why I’m so lucky to have this job…”)
That leaves items #5 and #6. For the last two years, I have combined them into a classic Powerpoint slideshow, which takes about 8 minutes to present right up to the end of our time slot. I provide a link on my school website to a short self-produced and narrated video called “Why We Flip” for parents who couldn’t attend the Open House.
Well, the most obvious reason is that I can’t hold parents accountable for their individual-space learning like I can with students. I can’t build on everyone’s prior knowledge for a group activity, because surely some parents are coming more prepared than others. But wait, maybe I can! There are some topics that every parent enters with some knowledge and interest, which have relevance to my Social Studies class. If I can tap into 1 or 2 of those areas, then we can engage in a real flipped-classroom activity! Some initial ideas:
- homework: necessary evil, or just evil?
- teachers’ political bias (should they act neutral?)
- civic discourse in America
- how to help middle schoolers with sleep, socializing, academics…
Oooh, just one more thing though. This “lesson plan” model is missing an important item: assessment. While driving home from school that night, I have always presumed that my performance was successful, but I never checked the audience for understanding! Did I actually meet my objectives? This could be solved with a simple GoogleForm. I can leave an open laptop on each desk, allow anonymous survey responses, and ask scaled-score questions like “How comfortable do you feel about having your child in my class?” They could do that in the last minute of the session. My ego might take a hit, but at least I will get honest feedback that I can build from.
What do you think, dear readers? Which idea is most likely to fail?
I have almost 2 weeks to plan before October 5th, so any advice is welcome.