I am so excited to be able to share this series with you, where I share my knowledge, hindsight and tips as you embark on your teaching journey. We really have no time to waste, so let’s get started!
A little bit about me…
My name is Nadine and I run the Instagram platform ‘Múinteoir N’ to help teachers, particularly student teachers and Newly Qualified Teachers (NQT) as they embark on their teaching career.
It is now a little over one year since I graduated from the Professional Masters in Education (PME) from DCU, St. Patrick’s Campus. Last November, I graduated with a first class honours from the PME, in which I also received the Vere Foster award from the INTO for achieving the highest marks in teaching practice and curriculum areas of education over the two year programme.
I am here to give you some of my hindsight in terms of challenges I have faced and how I have overcome them, and of course, some tips I have picked up along the way to make life in the classroom a little easier for you! 😉
Today we’re going to talk about parent teacher meetings.
It’s scary isn’t it? I can remember the lead up to the parent teacher meetings last year. I also had my first observation on the same week for Droichead, and it just seemed so overwhelming. I was so afraid that I would say the wrong thing, or that I would not be able to answer a concern a parent had. This is all so natural, which I know now!
It is important to remember that the preparation you do in the lead up to the Parent-Teacher Meeting, makes all the difference. Have a look at previous reports for the students and see if there is a pattern. If there have been major concerns or issues, don’t leave it until the parent teacher meeting to address them. Dress smart, and wear a smile 😉 After that, well here is what I have learned…
My 5 top tips for a stress-free parent teacher meeting:
Start with a smile and welcome the parents/ guardians to the meeting. Thank them for taking the time to meet with you. Begin by asking the parent(s)/ guardian(s) how they feel their child is getting on at school. This will give you time to settle into the meeting, and understand what perhaps the parent feels needs to be discussed.
2. Notes for each pupil:
Have your notes for every pupil condensed into a document, like the one below.
I would also show work samples to back up my anecdotes and feedback about the child in a specific area. Ask the children to use sticky index tabs to mark the page.
I also found last year that some parents asked me where the pupil sat in terms of the class average, so it would be useful to have the class averages to hand for any Halloween assessments. What I used to do was use a highlighting key; green was above average, yellow was average, and orange was below average so I could quickly glance at my notes to check, if asked by the parent/ guardian.
2020 Plot Twist: If you are doing reports or phone calls you may not be able to show work samples. This year, the children have filled out a self-assessment that I can quote in my written parent teacher meeting reports. You could also take photos of the children’s work that they are proud of and post it to the platform you are using e.g. Seesaw.
3.Note-taking during the meeting:
Take notes in the meeting or on the phone as you won’t remember everything you promised 27+ parents you would do as a follow-up! Have a section on your notes for follow-up actions required by you (see above).
2020 Plot Twist: If you are sending written reports home, perhaps include a space with your email address or details on how to contact you if necessary to discuss the report. This will allow the parent to email/ call you. It is important then still, to record notes for the follow-up meeting you have with the parent.
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4.The sandwich approach for the meeting as a whole:
- Start with a positive (e.g. strengths and areas the child enjoys or excels in).
- Share a target or what the child could improve on.
- End on a high note at the end, perhaps with an anecdote of the child and something they love doing in school or extra curricular involvements. Be sure to check in with the parent along the way and ask if they have any questions.
2020 Plot Twist: For written reports, a sandwich approach applies too for each section, or perhaps you would rather structure each section with ‘strengths’ and ‘targets’, and your recommendations on how to achieve these targets both at home and in school.
Always set goals together and give realistic recommendations for how a parent can best support their child at home with an area they most need help.
Examples of what I have done before:
- Provided parents with a list of novels that I found were at the child’s level.
- Shared a handout with a list of websites to practice maths concepts or times tables.
- Given parents of pupils that needed to develop fine/ gross motor skills at home, a list of ideas for how the parent can support this at home with things they will have at home. For example, specific YouTube workouts for core stability/ gross motor skills development, or tweezers and cotton balls for fine motor skills development.
2020 Plot Twist: For written reports, include these suggestions along the way for each section at the end. Don’t bombard the parent with a list of websites. One or two for each core subject or one or two suggestions for areas like gross/ fine motor skills development will suffice for the time being.
Other things to note:
- Children with other siblings in the school: Plan with the other teacher(s) times they have the same parents/ guardians in for. Try to have the parents/ guardians in around the same time, leaving the meetings 5-10 minutes apart in case a teacher is running a little bit over.
- Follow-ups: If a follow-up is needed for you to take in class, ensure to make contact with the parent about this as soon as possible, unless it is something that requires a week to roll it out to assess it. Again, if a parent has been given ways to support the pupil at home, you could make contact with the parent to ask how things are going and if they need any more support or if they have any questions.
- Think of the pupils! Parent-Teacher Meetings can be a stressful time for some students too. I always send home a little certificate (senior classes) or a sticker saying ‘well done’ (junior classes), for the pupils with their parents. This year perhaps you could include these with the report or give them to the pupils in school and let them know they have worked hard and you are proud of them!
Parent-Teacher Meetings are a brilliant time to meet parents and discuss their child’s progress in school. Parents are probably going to be as nervous as you are, so prepare as best as you can, and understand that you have worked so hard this year to care for their children.
You have tried your best and this opportunity to meet with the parents is giving you the chance to see what else is needed to best support the children in your class.
Together with the parent(s)/ guardian(s), focus on the child’s wellbeing and their happiness at school.
If this is doing good, then you are both doing a fantastic job.
Best of Luck!
Talk again soon,
We are delighted to have Nadine as part of the Rahoo crew with her fabulous blog series “Dear NQT”. For more tips and tricks to support you in the classroom, check out our blog HERE.
If you found this useful, you might enjoy our article “Top 6 Tips for NQT’s” – take a look HERE.
Learn more about teaching in Dubai HERE!