Parents Evening

7 03 2013

Parents Evening

I have just returned from an extremely frustrating parents evening at school. It is an opportunity for me to provide the parents with an update on ther childs attainment, progress and effort. Right now I am feeling a little intollerant of these events; perhaps it’s because I am tired, feeling overwhelmed as Acting Head of Department for Drama or maybe it’s the fact that it is the third consecutive Thursday doing a Parents Night that has inspired me to write this post.

Parents need to make their appointments wisely and the fact is – they dont. At my school there is a new online facility meaning parents can book appointments without any discussion with me. I work in a small department of three staff. The evening lasts for three hours and is broken into 5 minute slots. But some years I have taught up to 150 children in a year group. Appointments are only 5 minutes but even without taking a break I can only meet with 36 sets of parents – less than a quarter of those I teach.

I know which parents I want and need to speak to and as my subject is optional after Yr8 it is imperitive that I speak to parents of students considering pursuing their Drama studies furthur. In the past I have been able to advise students requesting appointments about whether it is important for me to see their parents or whether a simple phone call or email will suffice. The online booking system removes this option.

The “keen” parents book appointments with every teacher as soon as they have access to the system irrespective of whether they value the information and feedback. Some simply like to hear their child being praised, others are extremely pushy and want their child to excel at everything and some take it as an opportunity to resolve their own childhood experiences by blaming subject specialists for the failures of their child.

I have created the following guidlines to help parents work out whether an appointment is actually necessary on parents evening:

Poor reasons to book a parents evening appointment with a subject teacher:

  • I am your childs favourite teacher – this is always lovely to hear – but you could just email me.
  • You list all of your childs teachers and book appointments with all of them because you think you have to – you don’t so  be selective!
  • You want to ask about how much homework they should have – this is a converstaion for the head of year or pastoral staff who can see the bigger picture.
  • Your child has told you I have an accent and you want to play “guess where I am from” – just ask in a lesson – its not a secret!
  • You feel I need you to explain to me that group work is difficult if your child is working and others are not – I know! But I cannot fix friendship/social issues or wave a magic wand and make the class clown an A* student and I do actually know which students contribute and those who opt out. But working collaboratively with others (even those outside our friendship groups) is a life skill and they need to develop strategies the same way I have to when working with people I dont like.
  • You have given up your evening so feel you need to make the most of it and get the time you are entitled to – get your appointments over with quickly, go home, put your feet up and watch Corrie (thats what the teachers want to do)
  • You havent booked but as the teacher appears to be leaving you think they can “fit you in” – Book your appointments in good time, if you havent bothered to book then we don’t want to’fit you in’, if you havent booked early enough, suck it up and let us leave – we have already been working since 8am and have lives of our own.
  • We happen to teach your child in a secondary non-exam subject (such as PSHEE, PACE, CITZENSHIP) – no one cares and we would rather devote our time to discussions about the subject we were employed to teach and have exam candidates to talk to who may be denied an appointment through your time wasting.
  • You dont know why you are there – if you have no interest in your childs ability or attainment in a subject and they will not take an exam class and your child simply shrugs their shoulders and grunts when you ask about it then we have nothing to talk about.
  • To explain the course isnt what you expected – we have endless assemblies, 1:1 sessions, meetings and booklets outlining the curriculum, if you have signed up for a course without knowing the content then it is your fault not ours.
  • To put me in my place – this will not make it easy for me to work with your child in future and it is likely that your little darling is not behaving as well as they could be in my lesson anyway.
  • To tell me about how good your child is in my subject area outside school – studying a subject for pleasure is entirely different from studying it as an academic subject with a summative assessment.

Good reasons to book a parents evening appointment with a subject teacher:

  • You genuinely care about your childs attainment and progress in my subject area.
  • You wish to discuss future job opportunities that may be linked to the study of my subject.
  • Your child is struggling to pick their options and my subject is one that has made the shortlist.
  • You need more information about the curriculum and course content of my subject area.
  • You need to know about what UCAS points are achievable if your child is successful in passing an exam course.
  • You dont understand benefits of taking subject to exam level.
  • You are not sure if child is suited to the course demands and need information about whether they will be assessed on coursework or a final exam.
  • Your child has individual needs and you are not sure if they can be catered for in the subject area.

Exercise some common sense and dont take an appointment depriving someone else of the opportunity if you do not have a really good reason to do so.

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5 responses

8 03 2013
andy

Am i part of reason 5 ? working with people you dont like ??

10 03 2013
zehirablog

Not at all – we love having you to entertain us each Saturday Andy!

10 03 2013
teachingwritinglovetrauma

Oh my, do you have the gosh awful things every Thursday?? I know I would like to regret it but I wish we had enough parents that could./would/for whatever reason make it to these things to make it reasonable to have these meeting more than four times a year!

10 03 2013
zehirablog

Not every Thursday just once a year for each year group and 3 happen to have been over three consecutive weeks. I am at a big school with over 1500 children.

10 03 2013
teachingwritinglovetrauma

Oh I see, still, I see why you were feeling frustration!

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