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Journal

Preparing for Parent-Teacher Meetings

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Depending on what part of the globe you call home, it is either time for mid year or end of year parent-teacher interviews.

A few years ago I put together a list of points to form a lens for evaluating activities for effective parent engagement. There were seven in all, but two govern the others:

  • Parents are the primary educators of their children.

  • Parents enlist schools and others to assist them in the education of their children.

As parents we forget this and allow ourselves to drop off the radar only to reappear when there is a problem. Likewise with schools, the busyness of school life means that contact with home is  usually when there is a problem. Hence the tone of parent-teacher meetings can head south quickly. They can become the time to download about what is not working. If your child’s school operates a “speed dating” parent-teacher meeting format, then there isn’t much time devoted to discussing the solutions and actions that will benefit learning. No wonder parents, teachers and certainly the children feel a little stressed about them!

The mindset with which we approach these meetings will determine whether or not they are a valuable part of the home-school relationship.

Here are some starting points to get your head around while preparing for the parent-teacher meetings:

  • The problem is the problem, people are not the problem

  • Problems are in the interactions between people, not in them

  • Problems are not always present, exceptions occur, find them

  • The past is the past, let it go… let it go…

  • Small change can be really significant

Every person involved in the parent-teacher interview has the ability to make meaningful change.

Parent-Teacher Meetings #101 you get more of what you focus on

If we focus on blame, deficits and problems then they will be amplified.  If we approach the preparation time and the meetings by building a picture of what is working, then the positives will be amplified in the discussions and the collective understanding of the meeting’s outcomes.

Preparation is key. Following are some suggested preparation checklists.

Parents

  • Prepare a list of what the changes you have seen your child’s learning, no matter how small, since the last time you met with the teacher.

  • What has made you proud and excited about your child’s development and learning?

  • List how you are supporting learning at home?

  • What do you think would be useful for the teacher to know about your child, that would help them in their work?

  • What changes would you like to see in your child’s learning? How will you know those changes have happened? What evidence will there be that the changes have happened?

  • What do you want to know more about? How is that best communicated to you?

Teachers

  • Prepare a list of the changes and achievements in each child’s learning, no matter how small, since the last time you met.

  • What makes you proud and excited to teach your class?

  • List the strategies you are using to work with your class and each student.

  • What would be useful for parents to know about what you are doing in class or what you observe about each student that would help parents support learning at home?

  • What changes would you like to see in your student’s learning? How will you know those changes have happened? What evidence will there be that the changes have happened?

  • What do you want to know more about? How is that best communicated to you?

Students

  • Prepare a list of the changes you have seen your learning, no matter how small, since the last time your parents met with your teacher.

  • What has made you proud and excited about your learning?

  • What does your teacher do that helps you learn?

  • List ways your parents are supporting learning at home?

  • What do you think would be useful for the teacher to know about you that would help them in their work teaching you?

  • What changes would you like to see in your learning? How will you know those changes have happened? What evidence will there be that the changes have happened?

  • What do you want to know more about? How is that best communicated to you?

Some final thoughts…

Accept that parents, teachers and students have the ability to make small, positive change.

Each person is capable of taking control for the parts of the process for which they are responsible.

Remember, you’ve got this!


Jacqui Van de Velde




Jacqui Van de Velde