Parents' evening – us v them?
Your mouth is dry and your palms slightly damp. Your heart is thumping a little faster than is customary. A glance at the clock tells you it is nearly time.
You are either a teacher or a parent. Surprised that both can feel the same? Having sat on both sides of the table I can tell you that there is a good chance you are both going through the same emotions when it comes to parents’ evening. In this post I will share some tips for both groups to consider to help it be a useful use of your time. (for the purpose of this post the term ‘parent’ refers to anyone in a caring position)
Make an appointment
Parents – whatever title they are given a parents’ evening is a chance for you to find out about the experience your child is having at school. If you are unable to make the date given, ask for an alternative. Any teacher worth their weight will accomodate you if they can.
Teachers – make sure you have contacted all parents to try to get them to come and see you. Chase any no shows as they are often the ones you need to speak with.
Make a list
Teachers – make note of the things you want to share and ask the parents / carers. It is important that you do not go over time and keeop other parents waiting so having a check list will keep you focused.
Parents – list any concerns or questions you may have. Make sure they are not rants or criticisms. Parent evening is not a suitable forum for those so make another private appointment for those type of concerns.
Make it a positive experience
Teachers – make sure you have the right name for the parent. They may not be the same as the child’s. If you are setting books out for parents to read make sure they are labelled with the child’s name on and have been marked. Parents notice these things.Take time to make the classroom a welcoming place.
Parents – although the school will try to make it informal, these are quite formal occasions so do bring the right attitude with you. Come prepared to listen and take part in the discussion about your child. There will be positives to hear as well as things to work on.
Make it a partnership
Parents – see it as an opportunity to support your child and the school. You are providing them with part of the team. Together parents, teachers and pupils should be working together.
Teachers – parents are an integral part of the school so listen to what they have to say and show them how they can become more engaged with the process.
So there you have it. Parents’ evening is a chance for you both to find out more about the child in order to help them make even more progress. Don’t let it be a wasted opportunity!
Do you think attending a parents’ evening is a waste of time?
Many thanks to my friends on Twitter who kindly shared their ideas for this post