As busy as we are, putting together a parent meeting – and thereby adding one more thing to the calendar – may seem like the last thing you want to do. However, having a successful parent night meeting can have a lasting positive impact on your band program. With careful planning, your parent night event can:
- Provide an opportunity for parents to meet you
- Offer a chance to get reacquainted and build upon established relationships
- Take much of the paperwork out of class leaving more time for instruction
Here are 10 tips to help you plan a successful parent night.
1. Publicize and Incentivize Attendance
Having a low turnout on parent night can be a frustrating experience. To ensure this doesn’t happen, take every opportunity to publicize the meeting. Communicate in many different ways to get your message out. Use your district, campus, and band calendars to post the meeting. Send an email to your parents and students. Use social media – put in on district, campus, band and booster accounts. Announce it in class every day.
Also, be sure to tell why it is important and let students and parents know what to bring and what they can take away from the meeting.
2. Keep it Brief
Parents are busy too. Respect their time and they will have a deeper respect for your program. Keep in mind that parents likely attend several meetings at the beginning of the year. These can include meetings for other classes, activities in and outside of school, and open houses, to name a few. And don’t forget some parents have more than one student’s events to attend. Often these are on multiple campuses and can be at conflicting times.
Cover what you need to cover for a successful year. Hitting only the bullet points of things that are less critical will save time and keep the meeting moving. Be organized with your presentation and be efficient with your dissemination and collection of forms, payments, etc. If your meeting is professional, succinct and productive, parents can become one of your strongest advocates.
3. Take Care of Paperwork, Collect Fees, and Distribute Materials
Doing any of these in class takes away from instructional time. Students signed up for band to learn to play their instrument. When students are overwhelmed with forms, fees and paperwork, it takes away from the momentum and excitement of class at the beginning of the year. Collect forms, pay fees, purchase accessories, etc. at the meeting. It may be helpful to make the forms available online before the meeting, so parents can print, complete, sign and bring to the meeting.
4. Give a Short Demonstration or Performance
Parents always enjoy seeing their students perform. If you can put together a short demonstration or performance this can be informative as well as enjoyable. It gives parents a chance to see your policies in action. Older students or student leaders get excited at the opportunity to showcase their skills and teach their parents and younger students. A short performance can be a nice break between the presentation of information and can make the meeting seem to move along quicker.
5. Go Over Your Guidelines, Procedures, Grading and Attendance Policies
This is a great occasion to get everyone on board with how your organization operates and what is expected of the students. Take this opportunity to go into detail or remind parents/students of any key areas that you feel need addressing. Having a written version of your information along with a slideshow will allow you to go into detail or cover the highlights as needed.
6. Include Time to Meet Parents and Provide Opportunities for Questions
This is your chance to establish a rapport with parents. It is the perfect opportunity to build relationships that will last while the student is in the program – and beyond. Many new parents will have the same questions about your program. To help, create a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) handout (or page on your website) and refer to it.
It is also important to provide an opportunity for parents to ask questions. Be mindful of questions that are “group” questions or “individual” questions. Respect everyone’s time by answering the group questions and referring the individual questions for a follow-up at the conclusion of the meeting.
7. Make Sure to Cover the Calendar and Schedule
While the other items on this list are also important, the schedule is a priority for many parents. For them, this is the nuts and bolts of the meeting. This is the information they need to incorporate your schedule into their family schedule. Take this time to emphasize the importance of attendance at rehearsals, performances, etc. A well-planned schedule and a well-communicated calendar will go far in preventing many future conflicts.
8. Incorporate Your Booster Organization and Offer Volunteer Opportunities
Most programs rely on parent volunteers and/or boosters to support the numerous activities that the organization participates in throughout the year. Many parents are able and willing to provide their time, energy, and financial support to their child’s activities. Enlisting your parents’ help gives them a greater sense of buy-in to your program.
Be sure to provide a way for parents to sign up to help the organization based on their strengths or interests. For many people, it’s easier to volunteer when you know specifically what you are volunteering to do.
9. Promote and Advocate for Your Program
Take every opportunity to promote your program. Students, parents, administrators, and community members want to take pride in their local programs. Feature something that will give them that sense of pride. Being a positive advocate for your program allows you to showcase the merits of participating in music and the benefits of being a part of the music program.
10. Tell How You Communicate – Email, Phone, Website, Social Media
Lastly, don’t forget to tell your parents how you communicate. Let them know the most effective ways to communicate with you and give them a timeframe of when to expect a reply. Tell parents how you will communicate with them as well. Let parents know what social media platforms your program uses. Establishing clear and effective channels of communication will save lots of time over the course of your year.
Starting your school year with a successful and effective parent meeting is a great way to set you and your program up for success. Schedule your meeting early and find a time that works well for your situation. High schools will often have parent meetings before school starts sometime during summer band rehearsals. Middle schools will often have a meeting within the first few weeks of school. Find a time, schedule your meeting, promote the meeting, and enjoy a great start to your new year.