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The first parents evening...

Discussion in 'Primary' started by jksanderson136, Nov 7, 2015.

  1. jksanderson136

    jksanderson136 New commenter

    So it is my first ever parents evening this week. I have looked for advice on the internet and feel overwhelmed with everyone giving different pieces of advice. The parents I have to speak to are quite demanding and I am concerned if I say the wrong thing!

    Anyone have any key words of wisdom?
  2. asnac

    asnac Lead commenter

    1. Look them in the eye and remember that you are the professional; think of yourself as the equivalent of an architect, or a solicitor, with every right to give an expert analysis of the pupil's progress.
    2. They should see you referring to data (this adds to the professional image), but make sure you translate it into terms that they understand.
    3. Include comments about behaviour, personal organisation, friendships, as well as progress in the curriculum. It's good to have a little anecdote that typifies the child, as this reassures parents that you know their child well.
    4. Make notes of key things discussed. This will help you with report writing and also if they later claim they weren't told about something. You will not remember afterwards unless you have a note.
    5. Don't omit or overly sugar-coat the negatives or this could come back at you next term when you have to say the child's struggling in Maths or they're unkind in the playground - parents will ask why you didn't tell them before.
    6. If you say 'writing' they will assume you mean handwriting - you might want to use the phrase 'creative writing'.
    7. If the child is not reading enough at home, tell the parents how much and how often you expect it done. And take them to task if homework is not being done. They have a role in the home-school partnership. If all is well, then thank them.
    8. You could start by asking them if they have any particular concerns they would like you to address in this consultation - better to know about these at the outset.
    9. It is often the parents you'd least expect who are the most problematic, so take nothing for granted!
    10. If they bring up things outside the remit of the meeting, e.g. the parlous state of the PTA, tell them that this is not what the meeting's about.
    11. If you can't answer a question, tell them you will find out and get back to them within 48 hours.
    12. Keep a firm eye on the time and don't be the one who messes up the system. One reason some parents get ratty at consultations is because they show up on time for their appointment but then have to wait half an hour - and it is usually the fault of teachers who allow meetings to run over, affecting all the sibling appointments. When it's time, it's time - even if you have to interrupt them, tell them that you have another appointment, and if they do want to talk further please phone the school and to arrange another time to come in.

    Hope it all goes well. Remember you're in charge!
  3. Kartoshka

    Kartoshka Established commenter

    Fabulous advice from @asnac.

    This is a great way to start the meeting. I always say something like, "Is there anything specific you wanted to talk about today?" I like having an 'opener' and it sets the tone of the meeting as a dialogue between teacher and parent(s) rather than a lecture from the teacher. Usually parents say they just want to know how he/she is getting on, general progress, etc, but if there is something specific then it's good to be able to spend time on that (since meetings tend to be pretty short). Sometimes the parent will have a burning question and, having asked it, will be more open to listening to anything you specifically want/need to raise.

    It's good to have a clock that's visible to both of you, so that it's easy for everyone to keep track of the time. Some parents will be keen not to take up too much of your time and will wrap things up themselves when they see their appointment time is over. Other parents, of course, will be less aware of time and in those cases it's useful to be able to point out that your next appointment will start in a minute and so you need to wrap things up now. Some teachers use a sand timer, stopwatch or other aid to physically mark the amount of time allotted for the meeting.
    jksanderson136 and nick909 like this.
  4. nick909

    nick909 Star commenter

    Excellent advice given above. All I'd add is that it's worth remembering that most parents' biggest concern is that their child is happy and enjoys coming to school. It's certainly worth touching on this before starting on the academic stuff.
    jksanderson136 likes this.
  5. Camokidmommy

    Camokidmommy Established commenter

    I also start with 'is there anything that you would like to ask/ find out....'
    At the end I stand up, while thanking them for taking the time to come and discuss their child. This gives a clear sign that the meeting needs to close. I also say that if there is anything they think of, that they haven't mentioned, they can come and have another chat. They rarely do!

    The ones I find most frustrating are those that come with a HUGE list of questions, rather than jottings, when they know it's a short time.

    Good luck!

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