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Parents in lessons

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by the hippo, Nov 24, 2019.

  1. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    How common is it for parents to observe lessons in your school? Is there just one "Open Doors Day" or does it go on for longer in your current school? Maybe a week? Or two weeks? On the whole, do you think that this is a good thing or not?

    A friend of mine who is a Science teacher in the UK says that it never happens in his school and he cannot imagine it ever happening anywhere in the UK. But maybe he is mistaken, both in the UK and in international schools.
  2. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    Never happens in the schools I have taught in. As far as safeguarding is concerned, parents having regular access to children who are not theirs (even if the teacher is there) is entering dodgy territory.

    Besides, how are they going to improve the teaching and learning of the students?
  3. amysdad

    amysdad Established commenter

    Doesn't happen in my school - never will happen in my classroom. Never happened in any of my schools in the UK, although I think in primary when they have "soft start" sessions it does.

    You wouldn't expect a surgeon to invite a parent into the operating theatre to watch them operate on their child. Why would you expect them to be invited in to you classroom?
  4. frogusmaximus

    frogusmaximus Occasional commenter

    One of my parents was a lady of the night, so the story goes.

    Never wanted to observe me working with her child but those fluttering eyelashes and warm smile suggested she may have been more than willing to have me in her place of work. ;-)
  5. february31st

    february31st Established commenter

    It is very common to have open days to allow parents to view a few lessons. If you have tried fitting 25 pupils and 50 parents into a classroom you can imagine how well the lesson matches your every day teaching.

    Lets remember parents can be paying 35000GBP plus school fees so maybe they maybe entitled to view the odd lesson.

    Some schools also hold open evenings where teachers may give a sample of their lessons to parents for their information.
    ejclibrarian likes this.
  6. amysdad

    amysdad Established commenter

    Sorry, Feb31, I can't agree with that. They may be paying £35,000 fees but that does not entitle them to come in to the classroom and disrupt a day's learning for the class, any more than paying £35,000 for their child's surgery entitles them to a place in the operating room. And, as you say, having potentially 75 people in a room designed to hold 1/3 of that means that what they see is highly unlikely to be representative of your normal teaching - so what's the point?

    Open evenings / days where you meet the parents are different - that doesn't impact on the kids.
  7. moscowbore

    moscowbore Star commenter

    In some schools, the parents are fully entitled to come in and sit through a lesson. Some schools give parents an ID badge so they can get in any time they like.
  8. amysdad

    amysdad Established commenter

    My school has that - but parents aren't allowed into the main classroom areas in senior school (it's different in primary - causes a lot of confusion and annoyed parents every year at the start of Y7 when they can't get in to sit at the back of their kid's form classes.) Another school locally has historically allowed parents to wander around the corridors but not into classrooms, but is changing this to restrict access.

    I think it's more common in primary, though. I do know a couple of teachers who have had this happen to them, when the parents took a seat at the back of the room and didn't want to leave - the teachers just refused to start the lesson until they left!
  9. tb9605

    tb9605 Established commenter

    I've never worked in (or attended) a school that allowed this... though I do teach the Principal's son and daughter, and she obviously pops in from time to time. Personally, it wouldn't bother me and I can think of a few students whose behaviour might have improved had their parents been present in the room.
  10. moscowbore

    moscowbore Star commenter

    My experience of parents in class is secondary.
    I never thought it would bother me until a parent tried to chip into the lesson. It was a total distraction and I had to ask the parent to step outside for a wee chat. They never came back.
    In some locations parents do seem to think they are co-owners of the school as soon as they pay fees. Other places not so much.
  11. february31st

    february31st Established commenter

    Its a hard fact for some to remember the parents pay our wages. If parents want to come in for one morning a year to see an example class or two that is fine with me. We are allowed to break the fingers of any parent trying to use a mobile to video the lesson, there has to be some limits.

    All access to the school for parents is controlled and supervised during these visits to maintain child safety and normally parents can't get past the front gate without an appointment.
    ejclibrarian likes this.
  12. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Star commenter

    I have taught in a school which sometimes invites parents to shadow their child for a day.

    It was seen as a stage in the discipline policy, child going home with tall stories about what was happening at school, parent invited in to see for themselves. It would typically be a very badly behaved child. Of course, they would start the day better behaved in front of their parent, but quite often the mask would slip at one point.

    I had a child who I kept putting in detention for one specific action, the parent was adamant their child would never do that, Lo and behold, with their parent in the corner of the room, they forgot themselves, in the last period of the day, and did exactly what I said they were doing, which their parent had insisted was quite impossible, because they knew their child.

    It remains one of my favourite moments ever in teaching
    Kartoshka, kpjf, tigi and 1 other person like this.
  13. T0nyGT

    T0nyGT Lead commenter

    I did hear about this happening in the UK at one school a friend was at. The parent of a particularly troublesome boy was asked by the senior leaders to shadow him for a day and they did just that.

    At my current school it would never happen. I'm not even sure if anyone would request it. The closest we get is the odd prospective family being shown around the school and in to a few classrooms while lessons are going on to show facilities.
  14. gulfgolf

    gulfgolf Established commenter

    It does raise some compelling privacy issues, supposing the child protection ones can be resolved. No parent should really be seeing what other people's children get up to and how the teacher responds.
    That said, there are some times and places where it is pretty reasonable for a parent to be in or nearby. The first weeks of school for young learners being the most obvious, though that still needs a measured dose of "it's important to let your child navigate independently".
  15. kemevez

    kemevez Occasional commenter

    Generally not a big deal. Open days or prospective parents being given a tour popping in to have a look see - fine, they will see what they see and make up their own mind. Parents popping into school and sticking their head through the door to say hello to me, or their child, or just having a bit of a nose - again, why get uptight about it?

    I’ve experienced both extremes - a school that was stone cold paranoid of parents seeing daily school life to a school with an open door policy where everyone learns to deal with things with a bit of common sense.

    I would rather have the most annoying parent come into my classroom than the (b)anal senior or middle manager who thinks they know it all despite being relatively clueless about educational practice in ,er, practice and the world beyond their nose. Parents have an emotIonal connection to their child and should be treated with respect. They should also be told sorry now is not a good time if it’s not appropriate, and to take a few friendly steps back if they don’t get it. It’s not rocket science.
  16. rosiecg

    rosiecg Occasional commenter

    At my school in Malaysia parents & other family members, even maids, are frequently in school, sitting in the cafeteria or just wandering around throughout the day. They aren't allowed on the teaching floors between certain times, but it can be very difficult to ask them to leave when they pretend to not understand English!

    It's incredibly frustrating but the management won't do anything about it.

    We also invite parents in for entry and exit points for the IPC topics, but apart from that they're not allowed in lessons.
  17. piglet7t9

    piglet7t9 New commenter

    We do it every term for a week where we open the classroom up to the parents to come into the lesson. We decide a focus (this term it is reading). As a school we have found this a very positive and helpful initiative - for all involved! I wouldn't hesitate in recommending it to others!
  18. yasf

    yasf Established commenter

    I worked at a school that had an open day where the parents could walk around the school and wander into classes. It wasn't popular with staff.
  19. MsBuzy

    MsBuzy New commenter

    Some schools have parents with clipboards observing lessons and submitting feedback. Those schools are best avoided.

    Please note: parents do not 'pay our wages'. They pay an organisation for a service. That service is delivered by everyone from the cleaning staff to the principal.
    My current school is part funded by a generous benefactor, who wouldn't dream of making such a crass claim.
    (I wonder whether February 13th tells airline staff that he pays their wages when he takes a flight...)
  20. february31st

    february31st Established commenter

    Yes, haven't flown with Bloody Awful in five years due to their inability to have my luggage on the same flight.

    If parents stop sending their little darlings to your school and paying the fees, teachers get made redundant and the school goes bankrupt.

    Parent power becoming a real issue in Shanghai as the expat population drops and schools have to compete openly for customers. Expect a longer working day and more Saturdays to placate parents paying 40000GBP school fees.

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