Back-to-school-night repeats a virtual format this year


Reya Mehta, Vaneeza Lalani, and Raina Bae

   On Sept. 7, West Ranch released an online back-to-school-night video collage PDF for parents. Teachers made videos to introduce themselves and explain the curriculum they plan to cover throughout the school year. 

   This year, the decision to make the event virtual was made by the district. In his official invitation of parents to the virtual event, Mr. Crawford explained, “Similar to last year, instead of going through classrooms physically, you will have a chance to view each of your student’s teachers in their recorded video.  We also have videos from our counselors, library, athletics, and a welcome video from myself.  You can view this whenever you would like to, whether on Tuesday night, or whenever you have time.  We will keep these links live for the month of September.”

   Many parents and students appreciated the convenience of being able to familiarize themselves with the teachers’ curriculum without having to leave the house. Freshman Ibtisam Salman said,  “I enjoyed the online format because it was very in-depth. They made sure we knew that we could get the help that we need, especially in these unprecedented times.” 

   West Ranch freshman Erica Chan also thought the conflict was well-explained: “Though it wasn’t as immersive as it would be in-person, I understood what they were saying pretty easily and could tell that they were great teachers who truly cared about their students.”    

   Even though the virtual Back to School night turned out to be successful for some, others missed the feel of the in-person event. Mrs. Navaratnasignam found the format limiting: “I disliked not being able to meet one-on-one with the teachers. When parents show up to the back-to-school night, it communicates something to the teachers that the parents are actively involved. So the teachers now have no idea whose parents are actually involved.” She went on to say, “There is some feeling that you are there with someone and I think that that is lost in this video format. I think that the videos were very helpful, but this cannot be the norm.” 

   West Ranch teacher Mrs. Preach agreed, also having missed the in-person event. “I think it’s important to meet as many parents, guardians, and see students face to face, but I did enjoy making the video, it was probably easier than repeating the same information over and over to the same classes.” To make the video feel more tangible, Mrs. Preach used the platform Loom. “I believed it felt more personal because the viewer can at least see my face and see my facial expressions while I was presenting my information.” 

   Regardless of differences between the in-person and virtual events, this year’s back-to-school night was a useful way for parents—and students—to learn more about their teachers. If you haven’t watched the back-to-school night videos yet, the link to the videos can be found on this PDF, or on the West Ranch Website.