Posted on August 22, 2010
I remember the "open house" events of my previous teaching years in the mid-seventies. At the elementary school where I taught, parents arrived for an evening meeting in my classroom, during which time I provided an overview of their child's day and the curriculum. And this was without PowerPoint or an overhead projector. When I taught high school, open house consisted of an abbreviated schedule of their child's typical school day. Parents rolled in and out of my English class, during which time I had 20 minutes to explain the curriculum and try to engage them in some kind of writing experience, again without any tech support. I mention the use of technology because by now, all of you have read in teachers' weblogs something about your child's class. Many of you have a sense of your child's daily schedule and a few class procedures, such as homework and assessment. The wonders of 21st century technology also enable you to see your child in the classroom through the photo galleries or images embedded in the weekly blogs. With the affordances of digital comunication, why should attendance to your child's Open House evening be such a high priority?
Prior to meeting your child's teacher and other parents, everyone will gather in the dining room at 6:00pm. You'll meet the leaders of your parent `Ohana. The faculty specialists for music, art, physical education, and character education will introduce themselves and speak briefly about their content area. At 6:30pm, you'll go directly to your child's classroom.
Open House is no longer a passive event. Besides learning in-depth about what your child will be learning and how learning takes place, you might engage in an activity so that you understand just how your child processes a concept. Our students learn by observing, discussing ideas with others, manipulating objects and data, writing, listening, problem solving, creating -- so be prepared to participate. One of the underlying theories about learning is the importance of engaging in learning with others, so be prepared to participate in a small group or with another parent.
In addition to learning about the content of your child's program and how your child's learning is assessed and evaluated, there's another very important aspect of the evening -- the notion of community. Just as your child is part of a learning community, you and others form a parent community. You'll get to know other parents and put names to the faces of parents of children your child talks about. I hear this all the time -- oh, you're so-and-so's parents! My daughter talks about your daughter every day. While your children are building friendships, parents are doing the same. I know there are parents whose children began in our preschool six years ago who continue to occasionally gather for dinner or morning coffee. As children invite one another to birthday parties, parents inevitably become part of the MPI network.
Parents, there will enough time for you to ask questions. The teachers are anticipating your questions, so don't hesitate to ask. While logistics and procedures seem to dominate the evening, ask about the values and concepts that underpin our program -- inquiry, collaboration, assessment, problem solving, process, creativity, learning dispositions -- and how these ideas are implemented daily.
As a reminder, Open House is for parents. I hope that you've made arrangements for child care so that both parents are available to participate in Open House. Light refreshments will be served, and we'd like to begin at 6:00pm in the dining room.
The Open House for parents of students in kindergarten and multiage first-second grades is this Wednesday, August 25. The Open House for parents of students in multiage third-fourth grades and fifth grades is the following Wednesday, September 1. (The preschool Open House was held two weeks ago.)
At our August assembly, the fifth graders stole the show. Mrs. Hoddick's class presented a fashion show a la Project Runway of proper and improper school dress.
They did such an impressive job; I don't anticipate any problems or questions about Choice Day (free dress) throughout the year. Mr. Black's students shared their mini-inquiry regarding students' questions about the universe and possible life forms on other planets in the universe. Their questions lead to deeper inquiries about the mysterious universe.
I look forward to seeing you at Open House.
For our children,
Edna L. Hussey