What is it about the annual parent / teacher meeting? I don’t know about you, but I feel that it is like visiting someone in hospital. I leave all rational conversation behind me at the front door of a hospital. Things that I had planned to talk about seem to fall out of my head and when meeting the doctors I never seem to be able to ask the questions that I intended to.
It’s the exact same with the parent / teacher meeting. Sitting outside the room, or standing in the queue awaiting my turn, the butterflies start up in my stomach. Nervous parents chat to each other as they wait, making small talk as they check their watches – what is keeping the person in with the teacher??!!
I used to wonder if the teacher also felt the same nervousness. My brother & sisters who are teachers assure me that they do. It is probably the only time that the teacher has some one on one time with most parents, so it has to count. Surprisingly teachers are not trained in conducting Parent / Teacher meetings, so some will be better than others and some schools will run the meetings better than others.
Remember, the parent / teacher meeting is an investment of your time, so make sure you get the return on that investment. Have your questions prepared 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 copybooks and get a feel for how they are doing. Take notes, write your questions down & remember to bring them with you. If you have an issue to raise, 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?’
The teacher should know at what level the child is. If in primary they may show you Drumcondra Tests & Sigma T tests but very often these were taken months ago & are out of date. Ask them at what level they think the child is at now. Ask what improvements are needed and then ask how you & the teacher (as a team) are going to help the child to make those improvements.
Some secondary schools now do the Christmas tests in November so if you have the school report, bring it with you. The parent teacher meeting in secondary is a marathon event. If possible, both parents should attend. You have a lot of teachers to meet, so split the list between you and save time.
It is really important that you tell the teacher(s) about things that are happening in the child’s life outside of school. I know that this can be difficult; especially sharing private issues, but the parent / teacher meeting is like the confessional. The teacher is a professional and if there are issues outside of school that are affecting the child, then the teacher needs to know.
Ultimately, the annual parent teacher meeting should be a good event. Neither side of the desk 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 / or the school principal.
It is good to be prepared, it helps with the butterflies, but unfortunately it still won’t hurry up the person ahead of you who seems to be taking hours with the teacher.
For more information on our Study Success Program contact Elaine on 087 2996054