Why You Should Try a Student-Led Open House
Open House 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 STRESS! I wanted my Open House to reflect HOW I teach and how my students learn in my classroom, so I created a Student-Led Open House! The results?? 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.
To have a student-led Open House, you must train your students to teach their parents all about your class. The students are in charge and you have the opportunity to casually join the family conversations. A student-led open house is far more fun and enjoyable than having the teacher lecture from a presentation for 30 minutes!
Here are the details on how you can plan and hold your own successful student-led open house.
Make a Plan
For my student-led Open House, I first create a list of all of 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.
I make sure to include:
Class Rules: students show 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! We have an amazing work board and ongoing science investigations – this item is the student’s choice and can be more than one!
Practice Makes Perfect
Leading up to our Open House night, I model and practice what I want my students to do with their families during Open House. There is an Open House Tour Notes page for students to use to write notes about what they should share that night. I model each step and have students practice each item with a partner. (The only item they don’t practice is the STEM Challenge – I want to keep the Challenge as a surprise! But we do go over in general how it’ll work. 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! WIN-WIN!! I have my students leave their Notes on their desk for Open House in case they would like a reference sheet.
We take time to practice giving tours by working with partners and going through the checklist. The only thing we don’t practice is the STEM challenge. I want the challenge to be a surprise for them!
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).
The Day of Open House
On the day of Open House, I make sure my students make their desks and the room look it’s best! I want them to be proud to show their families around. The first stop on the tour is the student’s desk. 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.
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 interacting with their families and leading the way. Don’t forget to take lots of photos!
If you’d like to use my Open House notes, checklists, and STEM Challenge I have a resource in my TeachersPayTeachers store. This resource also includes an editable PowerPoint so you can create your own checklist and student notes page. Just click on the image below or click HERE to have a look.
Let me know if you have tried a student-led Open House! I’d love to hear how it worked out for you and your students.