Is Back to School Night still relevant?

Not sure if you noticed my super cute profile pic, but in case you did, I took it on back to school night.  Aside from reading for my doctoral program and grading assignments, I decided to take selfies to entertain myself.  Why you ask? I was by myself.  My only visitor was my principal, who stopped by to offer words of encouragement and acknowledgment about the setup of my classroom and upcoming projects I have planned for students.  The remainder of my evening I spent alone.

I shared my experience with a few friends and colleagues, and I got a lot of mixed reviews.  Some complained about the parents, stating “they don’t care” about their kids or know what it takes to have them be successful in life.  Others expressed their disappointment and shared how they felt “sad” for my students and the lack of parent support I received.  While a few of the teachers I work with stated Back to School Night was a joke and a waste of time for parents, educators, and students.

My opinion lies somewhere in the middle.  You see, I am over making parents wrong.  Is it disappointing to not have anyone show?  Sure.  I would love to have a larger parent and guardian turn out, I even offer extra credit to students who have an adult attend on their behalf.  However, I don’t know the circumstances these parents or guardian face.  I’m not a parent and I only have myself to look after.  I have no idea what it is to raise children in poverty or inner cities where crime, drugs, and prostitution run rapidly.  I have my own views and take on matters, but at the end of the day, I am not walking in their shoes, so who am I to judge?

With that, I feel like schools cannot and will not be successful without parent involvement.  Teamwork makes the dream work.  Yeah, it’s corny but true.   So, it got me to thinking, maybe the way we do Back to School Night is outdated and lame?  Perhaps we need to think of a new way to enroll parents, students, stakeholders or the community into these evenings.

I mean think about it.  Back in the day, it was a cutting-edge idea to bring your kids to work.  The thought was innovative and in some cases incomprehensible, yet today it’s the norm.  Well, what if it’s time to rethink how we do things?

I don’t know. I don’t have ANY of the answers, but I do have some ideas that would be fly.

  1. Community forums- a space where stakeholders can come together and discuss student needs, community needs, goals and visions for the school year, etc.
  2. Educational Raves- I’m not sure what this would be…but I thought the name was catchy.
  3. Student Exposition – student work is displayed, and they present on the work being exhibited.

Look, I’m making this all up!  I have no idea if something new would work, but I’m up for the conversation.  What are your thoughts?


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