Here’s the thing. I don’t mind parents at all. In fact, I like them in a one-on-one setting. I love getting to know my students’ families.
I do not love Back-to-School Night.
Instead of a one-to-one setting, Back-to-School Night is a billion-to-one setting, which, for an introvert like me is akin to a fish being forced to attend Tree Night. I’m completely out of my zone, flopping around with my mouth gaping open. LITERALLY.
However, being a solutions-oriented person, I’ve been thinking of what we could do to improve the things about Back-to-School Night that fill my body with hand-tingling, armpit-soaking, heinie*-clenching anxiety. Here’s what I’ve come up with.
1. Artificial intelligence to replace me for the evening.
My AI robot would be programmed to recognize down time (e.g. when you budget ten minutes for Q&A and then nobody has any questions) and will immediately burst into show tunes.
2. Tiny shock bracelets that deliver electronic pulses to parents who ask highly personal questions and/or try to turn Back-to-School Night into a private parent-teacher conference.
(To keep things fair, teachers who read their whole, five-page syllabus word-for-word to a room of adults can be made to wear the bracelet, too.)
3. A gigantic bucket of cookies in every class.
Do I need to elaborate?
4. Professional decorators to take care of the three bulletin boards that are still empty and the 14 stacks of ungraded papers on the floor.
Totally not from personal experience.
5. Bagpipers who rotate from room to room to end conversations that linger for far too long.
I need these bagpipers for my personal life, too.
6. If we made Back-to-School Night kind of like Halloween and required parents to dress up in costumes and trick-or-treat from room to room.
Not sure that this would make Back-to-School Night objectively better, but it would definitely help to lower the pressure for teachers.
7. A box full of baby fennec foxes.
I would say puppies but that wouldn’t do much for the cat people. Foxes are a happy medium.
8. An IV that will administer a constant but safe dose of some kind of caffeine/alcohol combination.
Because I can never make up my mind if I’d rather have a mug full of espresso or wine out of a mixing bowl.
9. A baby I could hold.
Then people would only ask questions about the baby, which are far more answerable than most parent questions. Ideal: a sleeping baby.
10. Everyone wears a nametag featuring the worst picture of themselves in existence.
Any feelings of intimidation are immediately extinguished.
Hammocks for everyone!
How would you make Back-to-School Night better? Ridiculous suggestions are highly encouraged.
*Did you know this is the correct spelling? I’d always thought it was “hiney.” Thanks, Merriam-Webster!