Sunday, October 28, 2012

Is Your Open House a Mad House?

I recently read Mrs. Q's post about her school's "Meet Your Teacher" night. She has some great ideas that she implemented for her evening and even provides a template for an informative Keynote presentation that you can customize to meet your needs. Her opening description of how this type of event goes in a music room made me laugh, because it sounded so familiar. If you are a music teacher, you understand how loud and chaotic these nights are when you mix crowds of people with drums, xylophones, and other exciting instruments.

My school's Open House is near the end of the year, and I have to admit that our classroom teachers are brilliant! Some of them have their students create a list of places to visit, such as the gym, art room, music room, and media center. After a brief time in the classroom, students are encouraged to take their parents and siblings on a tour of the building. While the classroom teachers prepare to leave on time, it seems the entire student body & family are in the music room playing drums, xylophones, and anything else I was unable to hide. Okay, I exaggerate a little, but it really does get crowded, loud, and chaotic.

I love getting to know parents, but it's impossible to have a conversation with the noise and the stress of watching 2-year-old children bang on $1300 instruments. I've watched mallet heads fly across the room while parents are oblivious, and students who would never run around banging drums or digging through instrument bins during class seem to believe everything in the room is free game during Open House. I used to attempt to put as many instruments out of harm's way as possible, but there are only so many places to hide numerous large instruments.

I needed a solution to the madness, so Open House would be a pleasant experience. In addition to running a slideshow, I've tried one other activity that went fairly well. It was actually just a way to organize the chaos, but it also served to educate the parents about what we do in music class.

I set up stations in the music room, and created a handout to serve as an educational guide. I gave specific directions about what to do at each station and gave brief background information about some of the instruments. The goal was for students to complete each station while educating parents about what they are learning in music. Meanwhile, the plan was for me to be able speak to parents at the door as they entered or exited the room. I can't say that it worked perfectly, but I feel that the handout and stations gave parents an idea of some of the things their children do in music class, and the stations kept people moving around the room with purpose.

If you want to further reduce the chaos, you could select stations that do not require playing instruments. Students could demonstrate music software, games, manipulatives, flashcards, whiteboards, smartboards, among other activities.

Do you have strategies for a successful Open House? I'm always looking for new ideas, so please share!

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