The time for parent teacher meetings is fast approaching – ours will be held in 2 weeks time. I find parent teacher meetings are often very enlightening and help you to better understand some of the children you’re working with this year. They can also be a stressful time for teachers as they do require a considerable amount of preparation.
- Each school has a system for scheduling parent teacher meetings. In our school, the children receive a letter with the 3 dates and the parents tick the date that suits best. The teacher then schedules a time and sends a second note with the time and date.
- Last year, I put a note on Class Dojo a week before the parent teacher meetings letting the parents know the 3 dates but also that I could facilitate morning meetings or meetings on alternative days if necessary. I was then able to get 8/10 meetings completed before the ‘official’ parent teacher meeting week. This meant I didn’t have to stay until 6/6.30pm on the designated days.
- If a child has an older brother or sister – speak to the other teacher and try to schedule the meetings close together (It can be helpful to leave 20-25 minutes between the two meetings in case one/both teachers run over time.)
- I usually give 10 minute time slots. However, there are some parents who will need more time so I usually leave a gap between them and the next meeting. This ensures that everything is covered but another parent isn’t left waiting outside the door.
- It is also useful to leave a 5/10 minute extra gap after 5/6 meetings to give you a chance to catch up if you run slightly over.
- Have a copy of the timetable on the door along with a note ‘Please knock at your allocated time’.
- Don’t start the meetings straight after school finishes – give yourself 10-15 minutes to ensure that you are ready, have had a chance to grab a drink/ go to the toilet and set up the room.
Learning Support/Resource Teachers
The learning support and resource teachers will also want to meet with parents so its important to try to co-ordinate the time so parents don’t have to wait a long time between meetings. If appropriate – meet the parents with the learning support/resource teacher too.
Have some brief notes on each child covering; Friendships, Attitude to learning (motivation), Literacy, Numeracy, homework subject areas where the child has a unique talent/ability, any areas where the child might need support.
Notes are really good to keep you focused as the time with each parent is limited.
It’s also a good idea to take notes during the meeting particularly if a parent has any concerns or if you need to get back to a parent about something.
Samples of work
It’s a nice idea to have some of the child’s work available that the parents can have a quick look at. This gives them a chance to see what the child is learning in class.
Samples of work can also be helpful to illustrate a point/ give an example.
This is a really effective idea that a teacher in my school shared. The children fill in a brief self assessment sheet which covers different aspects of school life. You can use this along with your own notes during the meeting. Some areas the sheet might cover;
- Things I’m good at
- Things I’m happy about
- Things I need support with
- Things I’m worried about
I always start with – Thanks for coming today! How do you think _____ has settled into 3rd class? or Do you have anything to ask me? Some parents will have lots to say and others will have nothing to say.
Discuss the main points (that you have written down). Try to have examples to back up your statements.
Be honest and kind – if a child is struggling then their parents needs to know. Make sure you have some ideas on how the parents can best support their child at home and ways that they might be able to help the child.
Sticking to the timetable
Keep a copy of the timetable on your desk and another on the door with a sign ‘Please knock at your allocated time.’
Leave gaps of 5-10 minutes after every 5/6 meetings. This gives you a chance to catch up if you run slightly over on a meeting and it means that parents aren’t waiting for a very long time to see you.
If a parent has a big problem/concern – thank them for bringing it to your attention and tell them you’ll need to think about it and get back to them soon.
Chairs – make sure to have ‘adult’ chairs that you and the parents can sit on along with 3/4 chairs outside the room for parents who arrive early.
Dress professionally – for many parents this may be the first time they meet you – especially in older classes. I always find that if I’m ‘dressed up’ then I feel more confident.
Make sure to have a cup of tea/water. If you have a long run of meetings – break it up slightly by giving yourself a 5/10 minute break to get a cup of tea!
Smile – it will help you relax.