One of the biggest challenges we face each year here at Prairie Waters is family turnout for our PYP Parent Information Evenings. We have tried:
- Several different session times – one during the school day, one in the evening
- Early in the school year
- Connected to the first round of 3 way conferences held in the school early in December
- Later in the evening
- Child care for those families that need to bring their kids
- Constant communication through various sources: School Newsletter, Twitter and Facebook accounts, postings on our school website and on the school sign outside of the building, paper invitations sent home with every student, posts on classroom blogs and Twitter accounts
- Luring/bribing (however you choose to see it 😉 ) with the promise of treats
- Save the Date cards at the end of the previous year
- Advertising at our Kindergarten orientation evening and information sessions during staggered entry
The list goes on…each year, we try something new or different in order to boost attendance, and each year, our turnout is less than ideal. This year, I hope, was the turning point for that…
Last year, we put it out to staff to think of creative ways to present our Parent Information evening in order to increase interest and attendance, one of the ideas that was very enthusiastically suggested, was an IGNITE inspired event, where small groups of teachers would talk for 10 minutes on a specific element of the programme, so parents would get a snippet of information, and then hopefully have their curiosity sparked in order to come learn more, or engage in further conversation with our staff either right after the event, or moving forward into the school year. In years previous, it has just been the pedagogical leadership team who would present to the parents, but we all agreed as a staff that in order for parents to see the value of this programme, that it needed to be a united front. Parents need to see that we are ALL invested and care deeply about what we do here as PYP educators. So this year, approximately 95% of our teaching staff signed up to help out in some capacity on the evening of PYP IGNITE; either by leading a session, helping with our student ambassadors who welcomed our guests into the building, assisting with room setup, food prep, or just being another supportive body in the room.
We had been promoting this event since the end of last school year, and this year, when the RSVP’s were rolling in, we were JACKED! We had about 80 people RSVP to attend the evening!
Unfortunately, on the evening of IGNITE, only about 20-25 parents out of that group of 80 RSVP’s attended. While disappointing, we still count it as a success. Why, you ask? Because so far, it has been our best attended parent information session to date! The parents that were here with us RAVED about the experience, and said how glad they were that they attended. They told us they would definitely be spreading the word to other parents that they need to come to the next session. Another reason we counted it as a success; we had a few faces in the audience from our Rocky View Schools family who wanted to learn more about the programme, and consider how it benefits students. We’re always happy when we can build awareness and understanding about the PYP and its impacts on student learning.
We’re hopeful that the buzz generated from this event carries forward into our next parent information session, and that we’ll begin to see our attendance increase with each new event!
Because who doesn’t love a surprise awesome dance party? (Click that link to check it out!)