Open House Night or Back to School Night can be so stressful! I can stand and talk to a roomful of students all day long, but a roomful of adults causes me major anxiety. I wanted my Open House to reflect HOW I teach and how my students learn in my classroom, so I decided to try putting my students in charge and holding a student-led open house. It was a HUGE hit! The parents loved it, my students loved it, I had a better-than-usual turn-out, and my principal LOVED it too and sat in my room for a good part of the session.
What is a Student-Led Open House?
Your students teach their parents and guardians about your classroom, expectations, and what they are learning.
While your students are in charge and you have the opportunity to just facilitate and enjoy conversations with your students and their families. A student-led open house is far more fun, engaging, and enjoyable than having the teacher lecture from a presentation for 30 minutes. It gives your families a real taste of what it’s like to be a student in your classroom.
Here’s how to have your very own student-led open house.
Plan Your Open House
For my student-led Open House, I first list all the important things I want my students to explain to their parents. I also include a fun, family, STEM Challenge to give families a taste of the types of activities we do in our class.
For our student-led open house, I want my students to share how are classroom works and give families a taste of what it’s like to be a student. I create an Open House Tour for students to share that include:
Class Rules: students show their families where the class rules are posted and what they look like in our classroom.
Behavior Management System: students explain our classroom reward system and consequences.
Student Materials: students show their families their textbooks, notebooks, and any other important supplies. They explain how we share materials and how our pencil system works.
STEM Challenge – students pick up the materials from me and get busy creating a simple, but fun design engineering challenge. I like my students to use the engineering design process and have instructed my students to explain this process. I’ve included a Challenge Results page so that families can record their results.
Technology – students share the technology we use in the classroom. They may log on to the computer and show their families some of the websites we use in class or show off one of our digital projects.
Spotlight – students can show off anything they like. They might choose to show off our amazing work board, an ongoing science investigation, or something they’ve done that they are proud of. The spotlight is the student’s choice and students can spotlight more than one thing.
Leading up to our Open House night, I model and practice what I want my students to do with their families during Open House. I use an Open House Tour Notes page so students can take notes about what they need to share that night. I model each step and have students practice with a partner. I give my students time to practice giving tours by working with partners and going through the checklist. The only item they don’t practice is the STEM Challenge – I want to keep the Challenge as a surprise They will know to see me during Open House to get the Challenge materials. They love practicing with each other and it’s also a great way to review procedures. I have my students leave their Notes on their desks for Open House if they would like a reference sheet.
Students can take their families through the list in any order they like. They can spend as much or as little time on each step as they like (except for the family STEM challenge – there is a time limit for the challenge).
Open House – The Day Of
On the day of Open House night, I put my students to work to make sure their desks and the room are clean and organized. I want them to be proud to show their families around.
Before students leave for the day, they place a checklist and their tour notes page on their desks. Before Open House begins, I place the STEM Challenge page and any important information that I want my families to take home on the desks. I include our class schedule, homework policies, behavior management, units of study, contact information, and more. They can just take these home and read at their leisure if needed. Their child will explain most of these things in detail as they go through the checklist.
I also prepare the materials for the STEM Challenge. For each student, I bundle 10 Chenille stems together along with a copy of the STEM Challenge page. I keep these in a separate area along with a supply of timers and rulers.
Open House Night
On Open House night, as my students and their families enter the room, I greet them, ask them to sign in, and direct them to their child’s desk. The student takes over from here.
I make sure to circulate to chat with families and answer questions. I love watching how the families interact and it’s especially fun to watch them complete a STEM Challenge together!
I have received great feedback from families and my administration for my Open House events. It is fun and engaging for everyone and much less stressful for me. I really enjoy watching my students interact with their families and leading the way.
Don’t forget to take lots of pictures!
I hope you try a student-led open house for your back-to-school open house night! I love giving my students opportunities to lead and take charge of experiences in the classroom. It’s so empowering for your students and building those qualities in your students helps your students to build confidence while allowing you to be more of a guide and facilitator in the classroom.
If you’d like to try a student-led open house, I’ve put together all of the materials you need to host one. It includes all of the elements I shared with you plus, it’s editable so that you can customize it for your very own student-led open house, Editable Student-Led Open House
Prepping your classroom for back-to-school? Read “10 Back to School Tips for a Great Year“.
Homework? Yes or No? Read “Should You Get Rid of Homework?“