Saturday, August 24, 2013

Curriculum Night...Speed Dating Style

Some of the best plays in football are the result of an audible.  In some instances, a quarterback sees what the defense is giving him, and checks to a better play.  Other times, it is the result of a little luck.

Our Curriculum Night was very similar.  We had a conflict with the high school, which was having their event on the same evening.  This was stressing some parents out.  If they had kids in both of our buildings, how could they possibly attend both?

Our initial plan was to have a very structured evening.  I figured I would kick things off in the gym, and then the parents would follow their child's schedule, going from room to room every 15 minutes.  I even planned to ring the bells in order to give them the full experience.

Then came the audible.  First of all I did not want to compete directly against the high school (I would lose, I am the intermediate school principal).  Secondly, and more importantly, the parents would lose, and I did not want that.  We wanted parents to be able to attend both.  So we came up with:  Curriculum Night meets Speed Dating.

We began in the gym in which I gave a short presentation.  I kept it under ten minutes. Why?  People do not come to these events to hear the principal talk, they want to meet the teachers.  I received so much feedback on this.  Joe Mazza, an expert on the topic of school and parent interaction, talks about giving the parents what they want.  Well this is one of the things they want.

After my nine minute talk, parents could go to any class they wished.  Every ten minutes, I made an announcement that it was time to rotate and find another teacher.  Parents could leave early and go to the high school, or come late and still meet teachers.  We did six rounds of the ten minutes class meetings.

The vast majority of the feedback was positive.  If I were to adjust anything for next time, it would be to give a few minutes for parents to get to the next teacher, or just extend each presentation a few minutes.  The teachers enjoyed the format because it avoided the situation where parents wanted to tell them specific things about their children.  Those things are important, but this evening was not the time or the place  for those conversations to happen.

As I mentioned, it was not the perfect scenario having two events on the same evening, but sometimes you have to be willing to be a little flexible and call an audible.  It turned out to be an evening that many people are still talking about.