Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Young Teacher's Guide to Parent

Your first parent/teacher meeting will be one where you will want to make the best impression. You will want the parents to see you as an experienced professional and someone who really knows their child and wants only the best for the child.

It is important to go to the meeting expecting to enjoy meeting the parents and finding ways to help them help their child. That way the meeting will 'get off on the right foot' and can achieve a positive outcome.

My first parent teacher evening was at a new high school where I taught every student Mathematics. I was still interviewing at 11 p.m. when the principal turned out the lights to get people to go home and, I suppose, to rescue me. However, I had a great experience. There have been many such meetings in my career. This article will detail the way I conduct these meetings.

1. Collect all test instruments the student has done.

2. Have copies with answers of all assessment instruments, assessment programs and a work program summary.

3. I have a summary of what I see as the strengths and weaknesses of the child. I refer to the test instruments to support these issues. I explain how the results could have been improved and what to do for the future, e.g. learning basic rules, having a better checking procedure.

4. Have, if possible, examples of the child's class work and work pads.

5. Consult the student's records from previous years for comparison purposes for all aspects of what you do, e.g. achievement in class work, behaviour, health and attendance problems.

6. Check attendance at class and for exams and other assessment tasks.

7. Check your diary for homework and behaviour problems.

8. Review the student's bookwork in advance and interview the student as you do it to get to know him/her better and seek to find out if there are any problems.

9. I have copies of how to study and do homework to give parents to help them help their child.

10. Exam technique is another issue for students so I give parents a handout on this also.

For Students At Risk

1. Suggest ways in which you can help outside the classroom: 
• Your availability 
• Tutors 
• Student mentors 
• Special needs teacher 
• Tutorials in lunch periods

2. Mention, where necessary, the following issues that may impact on student progress: 
• Lack of equipment, texts, pencils, and so on 
• Frequent lateness to class 
• Lack of attention in class 
• Slow to get on task 
• Easily distracted 
• Sits with the wrong crowd 
• Homework poorly done or not attempted 
• Will not seek help or ask questions 
• Is reluctant to answer any questions, even easy ones

3. I may suggest that the student be put on a contract or a behaviour card. I show copies to the parents.

4. I also suggest that they could sign the child's homework each night until we are happy it has become a habit again.

5. We decide which of 3 and 4 above we will do and I arrange to report to the parents on progress in the future weeks.

6. Don't forget to mention all the positives you can about the child especially if he or she is present.

7. Stress to the parents that you are only interested in helping the child reach their best potential.

8. Some parents will want tutors. I don't try to deter them but I tell them they need to get an undertaking from their child that they will work hard in class and at home and do everything the tutor tells them to do. I explain that the tutor should be able to increase their self-confidence and should be able to find problems that need to be addressed. I will give the parent a work program summary for the tutor. I usually have a list of tutors who live locally which I give the parents but I do not recommend anybody. I just tell them the list contains people who have offered to tutor. I suggest that they 'try before they buy' making sure their child is comfortable with the tutor first.

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