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Puzzling parent/teacher interview, wwyd

Discussion in 'Teaching overseas' started by ian60, Mar 28, 2011.

  1. ian60

    ian60 New commenter

    It was parent's evening for our graduating class. I didn't have a lot of interest from parents (I teach IB HL maths), I imagine most parents realise that it is all down to their off-spring to come up with the goods now.
    However I did have one appointment with the parents of a girl who got a grade 7 in her mock exam! (She is a smashing student, you could not wish for better)

    I have absolutely no problems with telling a parent how wonderful their off-spring is when they are (Hoping I'll be in that position when my own grow up) but the mother was trying to tell me that her daughter was weak at maths, and implying that the IB HL exam must be too easy if she can get a 7 by only getting 82% in her mocks!!!
    What would/do you do?
     
  2. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Established commenter

    It's partly a matter of culture and of the host education system. 82% in India would be regarded as dismal failure. Students with 90% plus in their CBSE examinations frequently jump off high buildings because such a 'low' score will not get them into an IIT or other competitive-entry college.
    I'd tell the parent that 95% in their CBSEs wouldn't get them into Oxford but grade 7s in their HLs probably will. The parent will probably then say 'Oxford must be easier than Delhi University.' At this point I'd head for the pub.
     
  3. Or the parent could be Asian? Meaning by that, of the oriental persuasion. Some, especially Koreans I believe, don't like to accept praise for their kids as it could invite bad luck. These parents will often try to negate/talk down any attempt by the teacher to 'elevate' their child.
     
  4. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    Doesn't sound like any parent I have ever met!
    If the parent thinks that the IB HL exam is too easy then show her what percentage of entrants sitting HL maths get a 7, compared to the number of entrants sitting A Level maths or whatever.
    You could also perhaps show her which universities require a 7 and for which courses.
    Is she sitting FM?
     
  5. David Getling

    David Getling Senior commenter

    Is this student finding HL easy, and is she keen on maths?

    If the answer to both these questions is yes then I would start her on some International Mathematical Olympiad material.
     
  6. ian60

    ian60 New commenter

    That's the route I took.
    I was trying really hard to make the parents feel proud of the exceptional skills of their daughter, (not sure I succeeded)
    Amazing how many of you guessed the general nationality of the parents without me saying.


     
  7. Please forgive me if any of this sounds patronizing, or is stating the obvious.
    The parents are concerned about their child's welfare. They may be overconcerned, overprotective and ill-informed, although they are now better informed thanks to the way you approached their concerns, but they did turn up,unlike the rest of the parents. I think you and the school need to pay due regard to that, not least because it may give an insight into the kind of pressure the daughter may be under at home.
    There may be a couple of follows-up you should consider at this point.
    I'm assuming that in the course of the meeting you also went through
    with them what areas the young lady in question didn't get wholly
    corrrect, and thus may need to concentrate on to secure the 7. I therefore suggest you keep in regular touch with the parents to tell them that the young lady is still getting the results in Maths, and is working well on her areas of (relative) weakness.That may help in convincing them of their daughter's qualities, but even if it is too late for them to understand the realtionship between raw scores and achievement levels, you lose nothing by keeping them informed.
    The girl herself may need a lot of convincing that she is as good at Maths as she obviously is, so keep encouraging her to celebrate all her successes.Suggest she reviews the course objectives and syllabus content in order to understand how close she has come to meeting her academic targets in HL Maths.
    Find out how she is doing in other subjects, or call a meeting with her teachers. Your school probably already has given her a mentor or something similar, but i think as teachers you all need to be working together to ensure you minimize any difficulties she may be undergoing due to the pressure of her parents' expectations.
    Ensure you all know what her next step is planned to be. Assuming it is university, ensure you know what grades she needs, and ensure she and her parents understand how close she is to meeting her targets.
    A look at her records throughout her time at school may also be useful, and might reveal more information about her and/or her parents, particularly if they have ever responded in writing in any way to school reports on their child's progress.
     
  8. the hippo

    the hippo Established commenter Community helper

    The problem at some schools in the Middle East is that the Arabic and Islamic Studies teachers are in the habit of giving the children incredibly easy end-of-term exams, even to the point of telling the children the actual answers and then letting the children take the exams home as part of their homework! Not surprisingly, even those children who have been absent for most of the term still manage to score 80, 90 or even 100%! Of course the children also take exams based on the English National Curriculum and then, if they are good students, they might be lucky and score 50% or 60%. Not surprisingly, many parents are then puzzled because they think that their children are doing badly in the National Curriculum subjects, while of course they are doing really well in Arabic and Islamic Studies.
     

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