Parent / Teacher meetings – nervous times?
Now that children have been back at school for a month or so parents are likely to be getting invitations to Parent’s Evenings or Parent /Teacher consultations. These are the formal meetings usually held at least twice a year when parent and school can get together and discuss progress so far.
What is surprising is how both sides feel about these meetings. I use the word ‘sides’ because that is how it appears to each protagonist. For the teacher, it is the time when parents could come in and complain. They could ask awkward questions that the teacher fear they may not know the answer to. During the day of the meeting, the classroom is probably tidied, books scrupulously marked (they are marked anyway but this is a double marking!), cloakrooms cleared of all that lost property and the teacher is on tenterhooks hoping no major incident happens before the end of school.
For parents, this is the time that they are expected to go in but many do it with great reluctance. It may bring back bad memories of their time at school. Ghosts of strict teachers and school bullies can come flooding back. For some, they feel in awe of the teacher. After all they have been to University so are bound to know far more that someone who is ‘just a parent’.
So the time of the meeting arrives and both parties sit either side of a table each waiting for the other to start proceedings. Once they get going, things usually go reasonably smoothly. The ‘test’ results are shared, praise or concern is passed on and thanks for attending is expressed. Then it is all over! Sighs of relief from both camps!
This scenario may be a little farfetched but not by much and what a waste of opportunity it is. Teachers need parents to engage with their children’s learning so having them in school should be used to explain the work, extend an invite to get involved as well as answer questions. Parents you need to take advantage of some ‘quality’ time with your child’s teacher to find out about learning and how you can help your child’s progress.
In a short article for the Parents Portal, I have described this relationship as a triangle with school, child and parent forming equal sides. It is a nervous relationship though with no-one really knowing the ground rules and this often means opportunities for really good communication is lost. You are all coming from the basic same position which is the welfare and progress of children. Try not to see it as a battle because it isn’t – you both want the same thing!
Perhaps it is the formality of these meetings that causes the grief? In a really informative article ‘Today’s’ Lesson: Communicate’ Gary Fisher explains a reasonably new forum for links between school and home – parent forums. Do go and have a read!
In the meantime:
Teachers:- How do you feel as you prepare for parent’s evenings? Are they a waste of time?
Parents: How do you feel about parent’s evenings? Do you attend and what are your expectations from them?
Headteachers: How can you make the links with parents more of a collaboration and less like a confrontation?