I have written a few blogposts about PT Meetings which you can find here and here as well as this post dealing with tricky questions. But I’m writing another one today including some templates for planning (before the meeting) and note taking during the meeting.
We finish school at 2.30pm but I don’t start meetings until 2.45pm – this gives me time to get the children out safely, sort out the classroom, organise myself, get a cup of tea and pop to the loo before I meet with parents. Usually parents will arrive at 2.30pm anyways so I generally do start at about 2.40pm (meaning I have 5 minutes grace in case meetings go over.)
Officially we have 3 days for parent teacher meetings the week after next but I’m starting mine next week (as I find the days are so draining to fit 28 meetings into 3 days.)
I then do a meeting every 10 minutes. (2.45pm, 2.55pm, 3.05pm, 3.15pm BREAK, 3.40pm, 3.50pm and 4pm.)
I also do meetings in the morning before school (8am, 8.10am, 8.20am) to facilitate parents who are unable to meet after school time.
With the new GDPR guidelines any notes you take should only have the child’s initials and should be locked away safely after use. As well as this parents are entitled to any notes you keep on their child so you need to stick to facts and evidence based observations. I personally write words/bullet points rather than sentences.
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What to say/Focus on etc.
I only say 1/2 sentences about each area below but I’m including some ideas of what to talk about within each of the headings so they look quite long. From my own experience the main areas that the parents want to hear about are behaviour, friendships, literacy and numeracy.
I take a quick look at Aladdin (which we use to take attendance and also to keep track of punctuality). If the child has missed more than 5/6 days at this point in the year then I mention it to parents. If the child is consistently late then I also mention the importance of arriving to school on time as the child struggles to settle in/misses important information.
How does the child behave in class? on the yard? What is their general attitude to school? Can the child work well independently and in groups?
How do the children get on with their classmates? How do they react if they win/lose a game? Can they take turns? etc.
Homework and Support at Home
I ask the parents how the children respond to the homework? How long does it take? Can the child do it independently or do they need support? I also talk about the quality of the homework that the children hand up weekly.
I also give some suggestions about how the parents might support their child at home. (Perhaps they could practice times tables, do real life maths (baking, shopping etc.) or read a wider variety of books.
Skills and Talents
Every child in your class will have a skill/talent and I think its really important to acknowledge this with parents. This could be a particular flair for a subject or sport or it could be a personality trait e.g. kindness. I usually have a little story/anecdote to share with the parents and this is a great way to show parents how well you know their child.
Areas for improvement
Every child also has something that they can improve in. Perhaps there is a particular subject area they need more support in or maybe there is room for improvement in their behaviour/social skills etc.
For me personally – I take the children’s copies and do mini conferences with them. I ask the children to pick their favourite pieces of work that I can show their parents in the PT meetings and I also pick out work that I want the parents to see – this may be to show improvement, or sometimes to share concerns etc.
Over the last week or so I started chatting with each child about their personal writing copy (we focussed on story writing and recount writing that the children have completed over the last 3 weeks). We compared our work at the beginning of the year to now and saw how our writing has gotten better. I usually use two stars and a wish so it was great to see the improvements as children began to incorporate the wishes into their writing copy.
When making notes about their Literacy skills, I use their functional copy (where we complete comprehension work, grammar work etc.), their personal copy (where the children complete work on the different writing genres, and also teacher observation from our weekly oral language stations (on Friday’s).
In the meeting I will focus on; participation in oral language lessons/discussions, reading fluency and comprehension skills, writing skills. If there are areas that the child needs to work on in literacy such as reading fluency/ retelling/ sequencing etc. I will have some ideas ready to share with the parents about what we do in class and what they could also do at home.
For maths lessons, I use Maths partners and mixed ability groups as well as stations. I always start a new topic with whiteboard work and it’s very easy for me to see who is secure in the new topic and who needs further support. In collaboration with my support teacher we do mini ‘surgeries’ where children elect to go in a small group to focus on an area that they struggle with. I also have looked at the childrens copies so I have a good idea of where they are at in Maths and if they need extra support.
For Gaeilge, I focus on participation in Gaeilge lessons (answering and asking questions/oral language) as well as the child’s ability to answer questions/líon na bearnaí/briathra/sentence structure etc.
We usually do project work (both in class in groups and at home (independently) so my focus here will be on childrens prior knowledge, group work and project work skills.
The focus for P.E. will be on children’s athletic ability, group work skills and fundamental skills (e.g. ball handling, dance, gymnastics etc.)
We’ll discuss the children’s skills and areas for improvement in Art, Music and Drama.
During the meeting
I always take notes during the meeting as otherwise I forget what was said or things I need to follow up with after the meeting. This is the template I use.
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This is a brief meeting – a quick introduction (and often the first time you are meeting a lot of parents if you are teaching senior classes). Keep what you have to say to the point – if you have areas of improvement to talk about then have evidence to back up what you want to say! (Remember for big problems/concerns – this should not be the first time the parents are hearing about it!)
Don’t be afraid to say that you are unsure of something or you would like to look into something further – you do not need to know all the answers straight away but make sure you do follow up and get back to the parents.
I always show the parents where the child sits and I ask the children to pick a few of their favourite pieces which I show the parents too. Usually I focus on Literacy and Maths copies to show the progression of the child’s learning so far this year. I have the classroom decorated with the children’s work as well as displays on our current topics.
Expected level of work
If there is a child who is not meeting expectations/ not trying their best – I think it’s a good idea to have an example of the expected level of work (depending on the child’s ability) to show the parents. Sometimes I take a photocopy of the expected level (omitting the name of the child who has completed this work) to show parents what is expected.