When I have written about the annual parent-teacher meeting (PTM) before, I have always assumed that they would be in-person meetings. That was how they always were, and I would have bet my house that that was how they would stay! But with 2020 the hits keep on coming and schools have had to reimagine how best to run their parent-teacher meetings in light of the global pandemic.
Some schools will conduct online face to face meetings, while others will do them over the phone. But the fundamentals of the PTM remain the same.
Remember, this is an investment of your time, so make sure you get the return on that investment. Prepare your questions in advance. In the lead up to the meeting ask your child, how they feel they are getting on in school? Avoid mentioning the upcoming meeting when you do this as your child may become defensive, afraid to raise a matter in case it backfires on them in the future. Have a look through their copies and get a feel for how they are doing. Take notes, write your questions down and have them ready. If you have an issue to raise with the teacher, do it in a non-confrontational way. Use phrases such as, ‘How do you think Johnny is getting on at…?’, ‘What can we do?’ ‘How do you see Johnny improving at this?’
In secondary school, it takes planning to have a successful PTM. So many teachers, so little time. Being prepared is what it is all about. Some secondary schools now do Christmas tests in November so if you have the report, keep it with your questions.
Keep in mind that everyone has a designated timeslot. Calls may drop and internet might crash so be mindful of others. If it appears that you are going to go overtime, arrange to schedule another meeting with the teacher.
It is important that you tell the class teacher about any issues that are happening in your child’s life outside of school. I know that this can be difficult; especially sharing private issues, but the PTM is like the confessional. The teacher is a professional and if there are things outside of school that are affecting the child, the school needs to know. Most teachers want their students to succeed and this is more likely to happen when everyone is on the same page. Occasionally though you may meet with a teacher that you feel is the complete opposite. No matter how infuriating they may be, remain calm.
Ultimately, the annual parent-teacher meeting should be a good event. Neither side should be surprised during the meeting – if there are issues, they should be brought up long before now. If you do find that there are issues to be addressed then make an appointment to meet with the teacher and/o the school principal.
Finally – be patient. You might find yourself in limbo waiting for a call or to be admitted to the meeting. The teacher may not be as, or may be way more, computer savvy than you. They might have had several technical issues with previous parents and by the time of your meeting, they could be frazzled. So be prepared – with your questions and for technical issues. All going well, the 2020 PTM will go exactly as you want it to.
For more information on our Study Success Program contact Elaine on 087 2996054