Parent-teacher meetings are considered by most to be a waste of time. Parents think that they have nothing to do at these meetings and for teachers, these meetings assume nightmarish proportions because it seems like an endless meet and greet of people who they might never see again. But, despite the logistics and time involved, parent-teacher meetings can actually prove to be pretty insightful and helpful, not just for the teacher, but also for the parent.
Here are a few things teachers can do in order to make parent-teacher meetings successful.
1.Set up a parent-teacher meeting right at the beginning of the school year – You can use this meeting to introduce the parent to your teaching style and explain what you aim to achieve this school year. This introductory meeting will help the parent realize that teachers are accessible and will also make them feel less hesitant about coming forward with any doubts or issues.
2.Have two to three parent-teacher meetings on an average – There are parent-teacher meetings after every term exam in schools. So that means, on an average there are two parent-teacher meetings yearly. However, aim for more than two parent- meetings. Whether it is you who schedules the meeting, or the parent, it does not matter. Fairly frequent parent-teacher meetings help you gauge how the child is doing.
3.Encourage parents to schedule parent-teacher meetings too – The teacher shouldn’t have to be the only one who schedules meetings. Encourage parents to do so too and let them know that you are open to discussing any questions or problems they have regarding their child’s education during school hours. The meeting need not even be in person, it can even be over the phone or if you are really pressed for time, through a series of emails.
4.Before a parent-teacher meeting, send out reminders – The dates for parent-teacher meetings are usually given out in an events circular at the beginning of the school year. However, before the meetings happen, it cannot hurt to send out reminders once more. These reminders can be in the form of circulars or they can even be notes in the child’s school diary or even e-mails.
5.Make the location of your parent-teacher meeting a welcoming one – Ideally, hold parent-teacher meetings in the classroom itself and have waiting parents seated outside the classroom. This gives you and the parents the privacy to discuss potentially sensitive issues if any. You can also hang up art projects by the children on the walls or have colourful designs created by the children on the chalkboard. You can also institute a token system where each set of parents who come can take a token and await their turn. This will also prevent any issues like line jumping and queue cutting.
6.Before the meeting, make a list about the qualities each child possesses and keep their transcripts and records with you too – When the child’s parents are sitting before you, taking a quick look at the child’s quality sheet will give you an idea about what you want to say. This is especially helpful when you have a large class. Make sure that you talk about both the good and bad qualities that the child possesses and not only the bad. Also, keep the child’s transcripts and records with you for ready reference, because some parents like to go into detail about their child’s performance.
7.Include the child in the meeting too – The whole point of the parent-teacher meeting is to discuss the child’s education and how well he or she is doing in class. If the child is not there, then the meeting becomes redundant. Also, if child needs additional help or homework, having the child present during the meeting will also take into account the child’s input.
8.In case of remedial help, always schedule follow up meetings with the parents – This is that you can gauge how well the child is doing with regards to additional help and homework. If the additional help seems to be benefiting the child, then well and good but if not, you can either suggest a few other help resources or other teachers who can offer better help.
9.Discuss how the child at school is vs. the child at home – It is important to ask the parents how the child behaves at home. It might be surprising (or not surprising at all) to know that a child’s behavior at home might vary when compared to his or her behavior at school. If possible, try to discuss with the parents why this is so. The answer might be illuminating and will help a teacher control or coax a child into good behavior in class. Similarly, it might also help teachers integrate shy or withdrawn children better into the classroom.
10.Keep calm and collected in the face of rudeness – Sometimes yes, you will have to deal with unpleasant parents who are aggressive and impatient and rude. As much as you would like to, do not lose your cool. Parents like these are inevitable and simply agree to disagree rather than engaging in shouting matches.
On the other hand, if a child with problem parents need extra help or supervising and the parents refuse to acknowledge that the child does need help, it might help to have the school principal back up your suggestions so that the child’s education comes above all else.
11.Warn the parents beforehand if you have something troubling to share – Don’t spring surprises on the parent by having them come to the meeting and telling them, “So-so regularly disrupts the classroom by yelling at the top of his voice”. Instead, if you do have unpleasant facts to share with the parents call them up and appraise of them of the situation beforehand. This way, parents can also talk to the child and come prepared to the meeting. When they finally do come to the meeting, you can spend time chalking out a plan of action that will help the child.
12.Allow parents to end the meeting – Teachers of course have the most to say during parent-teacher meetings. However, also let the parents steer the conversation along with opinions or ideas they have (as long as they don’t constantly interrupt and derail you) and let them end the meeting too. This way, parents too can feel like they have an equal say in their child’s education at school!
How do you deal with parent-teacher meetings? Have any tips to share with us? Let us in on your secrets by sharing your tips for successful parent-teacher meetings in the comments below.