Open House

Open House was today. Every year each full-time teacher has to go to one open house to help out the Admissions department. We teach two mini-lessons to eighth graders and sometimes we serve on the faculty panel afterwards. It takes a couple of hours on Sunday afternoon. It’s like everything we do for Admissions, actually pretty good once you’re in it, but it feels like a big huge pain in the you-know-what hauling yourself to school on a weekend.

It didn’t help that on Saturday morning I woke up convinced that it was a workday. I lay in bed pondering how much time I had left before the alarm clock went off. I don’t really know how long it took me to realize that the alarm wasn’t going to go off–because it was Saturday! It was quite the relief to discover that I didn’t need to get out of bed before the sun was up for a change, but by that point I was already pretty much awake anyways, so I wound up getting up pretty early. Not that this is all that strange for me. I seem to be consitutionally incapable of sleeping in.

Today’s open house was kind of funny. I had two sessions of mini-class and then stayed for the faculty panel afterwards as the math team representative. My first class had 30 students! This was bizarrely large. I had been expecting many students, as our open houses tend to be over-full, but I’d been warned to expect around 25. There were not enough chairs in the classroom for all the kids that came in–something which I am upset with the Admissions team about; that is something they should be on top of. Amidst the mass of students was a girl who mid-way through the lesson called me over and said that she’d already visited my class and that her dad knew me. She told me “hi” from him. Super sweet.

Then, my second class only had thirteen kids in it! This would be less annoying, except for the fact that the students literally just go as a group from one class to the next. So, the 30 + 13 was really a group of 43 that got split–NOT in half–and switched places with one another. Not sure why the groups couldn’t have been 21/22 rather than huge and little. I was good though. I didn’t launch into my vituperative spiel with the Admissions team before I left school this evening. I am smart enough to know that it was not the right time.

My tiny second class included a sibling of a former student and someone whose bar mitzvah I went to last year. That one was a first. Mainly because I don’t go to very many bar mitzvahs these days. I’m calling this the “open house trifecta.” Because, well, why not?

Faculty panel was what it usually is. Answering questions from parents, all of which are pretty typical. There are two rounds. Much like my mini-lesson classes, the first group was much larger than the second. Interestingly enough we also got through many more questions in the first round. I think this was due to the experiment the Admissions team had us run. The usual format for parent questions is that they write them down on an index card and hand them in. Then the panel moderator sorts them by similar question types and asks the panel a selection from the bunch. We did that for the first go-round. In the second, parents just raised their hands to ask their questions. I think we only got through three questions in the second group. Which is kind of crazy. We don’t have that much time, but we should be able to get through more than that. I think the Admissions team wanted to counter the possible perception that we were cherry-picking questions to ask the panel, but they didn’t really consider the fact that some parents take 2-3 minutes to ask their question. And when you only have half and hour (less time, really, after introductions and such) that is a huge percentage of the panel time. Summarizing several questions, like our moderator tends to do, goes a lot more quickly. I think that was an unexpected consequence for this experiment.

In any event, I am off the hook until next year. I can’t say that I’m disappointed not to have to come in again on the weekend for a while. But it was kind of fun once things got going.

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