It’s that time of year so Amanda offers some practical, actionable advice to make Parents’ Evening a breeze.
After a long day of teaching, parents’ evening can feel like the last thing you need. But speaking to parents can be a really useful experience, especially if you are prepared. Read our hints and tips below!
- Prepare in advance
Before the evening, sit down with a list of your class and make any notes to yourself about each student. This shouldn’t be novel-length – just a few phrases and words that will remind you of key information you want to share with the parent/carer. This will mean that you don’t forget to mention them during the short meeting that you have. This might be information about things like missing homework or behaviour, but don’t forget to think about any positives or anecdotes about that student too.
- Know your students
Make sure you have data available for your classes, especially if this is something that has been communicated with home via letter or email as it is often something parents want to talk about. You could also have photos of students ready too if they are a new group or if you have a lot of students. There’s nothing worse than a student sitting down across from you with their parent or carer and having no idea who they are!
- Stick to timings
Most parent’s evening appointments will be short and you can easily find that your timings are completely out of kilter if you allow a parent to dominate your time. You could begin your appointment by apologising for the short amount of time you have available. If the appointment does become a lengthy discussion, arrange to contact the parent at a different time or to schedule a meeting with them to discuss issues in more detail if needed.
- Structure your discussion
A good way to start the appointment if the student is there too is to ask them how they think they are getting on. You will often find that students will treat this invite like a confessional if they have been in trouble in a lesson and will spill the beans before you. When feeding back information, especially if there is an issue such as behaviour to discuss, a good way to share this information is using the ‘Feedback Sandwich’ – begin with a positive, even if this is something as simple as ‘Matthew always arrives to lesson on time’ – followed by the negative – ‘…but often he can be a source of distraction in lessons because he shouts out.’ Add to this another positive – ‘…his ideas are great and they show a real understanding of the text’ then finish with the action – ‘so he needs to make sure he remembers to put up his hand to share those fantastic answers’.
- Contact key students
As lovely as it is to see the parents’ of the students who are always well behaved, on-target and a pleasure to teach, it is likely that the parents or carers that you want to see won’t come. Some sneaky students might avoid telling their parents about parents’ evening if they can help it! A good strategy for this is to phone them before parents’ evening to ask them directly if they would like an appointment. If they are unable to make it, ask if they might be able to make an alternative time for a meeting or if an update over the phone would be convenient.
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