Meet The Teacher BBQ

The barbeques were lit up in front of the school last night. They were manned by support workers who managed to keep hamburgers and cheeseburgers coming. It was an informal way for the community to get to meet the new teachers.

I like the idea of a Meet the Teacher barbeque night. It allows everyone to get to meet without much pressure. Both my students and I are just starting to get into the swing of things. I haven’t done any formal evaluation yet in the classroom so I didn’t have to focus on academics when talking to parents. As such, the conversations I had with parents were more laid-back and it allowed us to connect on a personal level.

I got compliments about my classroom set-up. One parent said that she liked my room. She looked around at my classroom banners, bulletin board, and posters. It wasn’t too much or too little, she said. And I knew exactly what she meant. I’ve walked into some classrooms and been completely overwhelmed by what is on the walls.

I know that there are a million good teaching aids and posters available, but putting them all up in your room just doesn’t work. Too much clutter also doesn’t work. That’s why my classroom walls are sparsely covered and my counters are clear. I keep my desk and bookcases clean and organized as well. There is a lot to be said about the look and feel of a room.

I want my class to be inviting to my students so that they can feel comfortable there. I don’t want to overload them and I don’t want to be overloaded either. It’s a delicate balance.

Most aspects of my job can probably be summed up by those words; “delicate balance.” But I showed that last night by sharing some of my hip-hop culture with parents and students from other classes. I shared my teaching philosophy with parents and grandparents. And near the end of the night, when things were dying down, I got to show a kid a few of my moves on his skateboard. Everyone seem surprised at that.

I like to show kids that I can have fun and that I have skills that travel outside the classroom. It’s a good lesson. And it was a great night.

17 responses to “Meet The Teacher BBQ”

  1. Chase,

    It is amazing what actually takes place, community and relationship wise, around food. What better way to get everyone together and talking than with a good BBQ.

    I know what you mean about the clutter in classrooms. I remember my 7th grade teacher had so much stuff that you couldn’t even tell the wall underneath was painted.

    I am glad everything went so well, and you were able to still bust a move on the board. I know if I tried to do anything other than cruise on a long board, I would bust something other than a move!

  2. One of the best books I shared with my children was about the teacher not living at school – I liked your sharing about your outside interests with a student via skate board – I can just see you jumping up on a curb-Chase and board in balance.

    I could always tell when my children were making inside changes because their rooms became a mess sometimes from creativity and most often in confusion. I found learning happened most often within order and boundaries.

    I liked this piece and I am glad to find you on Barbara’s post as she builds her community – how vital we all are as we brick – layer our comments and the words mush into the mortar.

  3. That sounds like a great way to get to know both teachers and parents, in a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere. And, I think it’s good to know people, not just by the work identity, but by their outside of work identity as well. You learn new things about people (like skateboarding – I’ve tried, I’ll stick to a bicycle!). You connect. And you build relationships that come into play in a very positive way at school throughout the year.

  4. Hi Patricia,

    Community is awesome. Thanks for stopping by and dropping a comment. I really like your closing metaphor.

    Hi Lance,

    I’ve skateboarded since I was in Grade 5 as a student. The Grade 5s get a kick out of seeing me do it now. I’ve still got a few moves in me.

    Hey Silverfish,

    You made me smile, as usual. Thanks!

  5. Hi Chase,

    I came by From Barbara’s site to say hello and offer some encouragement and to smile about your teaching post. I used to be a pre-school teacher long long ago and I used to pay for everything in my room and agonize over every aspect of it.

    But…every shining, gleaming face made it all worth it for me. I hope you have a great year.

    And there are so many of us that you can meet who will become good friends with you if that is what you want.

    looking forward to it.


  6. Hi Chase!

    I used to be a school teacher of 11 to 18 year-olds (I don’t know what that is called in the US). This meant I didn’t have a classroom of my own – in most cases even a particular class would have their science lessons in different rooms throughout the week.

    When I started visiting primary schools as a visiting presenter, I was blown away by the displays etc in some of the rooms. And I think you make a really good point about how this can be overdone.

  7. Chase,
    I, too, am a teacher, blogger and writer. Though I teach much older kids, it’s critical to create an environment that is conducive to learning.
    Many parents don’t understand the time and effort it takes for non-curricular items: creating the environment, classroom management, etc…
    Of all of my “lives” teaching is my first love. Since I blog anonymously, I can write about what goes on in the classroom and the administration – and they have produced some of my funnier, funnest, though not always maximal-comment posts.
    My blog has taken a short-lived turn in the past week: however, I can’t wait until Saturday when I have a blog planned about one of my classes.
    Incidentally, I love the way you write! I hope you don’t mind if I subscribe. and feel free to drop by the “Digest” any time. I’d be thrilled to see you there!



  8. Hi Wendy,

    I know what you mean. I spend a lot of money on my classroom every year. It’s almost a necessity. Although I’ve forced myself to be a little smarter about it the past couple of years. I simply can’t afford to do and buy all the things I would like for the classroom.

    Very nice to meet you!

    Hi Robin,

    You made a good point on Barbara’s blog. I think I will probably take today off and not post a new entry. This way I can have some more time to digest all the great advice I got there.

    They have all sorts of different names for your old job. But I get a good idea of what you did. And it is amazing to see how the classrooms differ from elementary schools to middle schools to high schools.

    Thanks for the advice and thanks for visiting.

    Hi Rita,

    I spent most of the time in class so far just creating the classroom atmosphere that I want to see all year long. I’ve only really done review in math and language arts so far. Next week, I will start the meat and potatoes of the learning. And I will continue to focus on the classoom atmosphere. You are right, it does take a long time.

    It’s great to see you here. Please do subscribe.

    Take care.

  9. Hey Rita,

    You’re profile link for Blogger isn’t working. Just thought I’d let you know. I should be able to go to Barbara’s blog to find your’s though.

  10. Hi Chase,
    I found you over at Barbara’s.

    I used to be a teacher too! Well, once a teacher always a teacher.

    Your teaching philosophy is very important. It’s kind of like your guiding light through the storm of teaching. It will keep you from being blown off course.


  11. Hi Chase,

    What a great story. We never had events like that when I went to school, but I do think it’s a great idea for parents and teachers to meet. You’re not under pressure to discuss the children’s progress, but yet they get to see your classroom and can envision where their child is every day.

    You’re smart to not overwhelm your students with having too much on the walls as that can be a distraction from learning. Maybe you’ll “silently” be teaching the other teachers that less is more.

  12. Hi Ellen,

    I totally agree.

    Did you see my previous post about my teaching mission statement?

    I also have a philosophy that is nearly two pages long. I think it’s important to be able to communictae it clearly.

    Hi Barbara,

    Silently teaching other teachers, I like that.

    This blog shows how I can make a lot of noise in silence. I like the metaphor.

  13. I think your balanced approach to the classroom is perfect. (And what a nice parent for taking the time to say the nice thing they were thinking!)

    Some kids need lots of stimulation, but it can very overwhelming to others, so there’s a fine line to walk.

    I mean, really, those “Focus” posters? Yeah, not helping kids to focus. 🙂

  14. Hi Sara,

    A lot of kids seem to have trouble focusing and staying on task. I think it is important to try and eliminate distractions for these kids.

    I think some teachers don’t even think about all the clutter in the classroom.

    Less is more sometimes. One way to do this is to simply rotate the posters so they are not overwhelming. Just a few tips for teachers.