Parents’ evening is an opportunity to get your pupils on track, celebrate their achievements and get their parents on-side. Sometimes, that’s easier said than done. Appointments run over and some parents don’t show up. Add in the anxiety of parents who have negative memories of school and parents’ evening can be a stressful few hours.
So, how can you improve parents’ evenings? We’ve gathered five tips:
One: be prepared for parents’ evening
Taking a few minutes to plan ahead helps you make the most of the opportunity and improve parents’ evening for yourself and those involved.
How many times have you found yourself rushing to the hall for your first appointment? A flustered teacher doesn’t inspire confidence!
Two: get pupils’ names right
Everyone forgets names sometimes – even teachers are human!
Pre-empt this by checking pupils’ photos on the school system beforehand. It’s just as important to get parents’ names right – and so easy to cause offence by using the wrong surname or title. Avoid this in one easy side-step – simply using the child’s name. “Hello, it’s lovely to meet you. I’m _____’s maths teacher.”
Three: start and finish appointments with a positive
No parent wants to hear negative comments about their child. Start with a positive comment, however, and you’ll reassure them that you’re voicing a professional opinion – not a personal vendetta! A great way to improve parents’ evenings is to start and end with positive news or ideas.
You don’t want to gloss over any important issues but both parent and child will be so much more open to listening if they feel like you’re on their side. End the appointment with a positive comment and a handshake to make it clear you’re looking to move forward.
Four: stick to your appointment times
Sticking to your allotted time will keep everyone happier. Parents don’t want to be kept waiting. And you don’t want to be the last person in the building at the end of the evening!
At the start of the appointment, remind parents that you only have five minutes. Use your smartphone or tablet as a timer. If anything needs further discussion then make an arrangement to do this by phone at a later date.
Five: make sure you’re up to date with your marking
The week before parents’ evening, check that your marking is up to date.
Parents are bound to comment if their child’s work hasn’t been marked. This doesn’t mean wasting time making sure there is red pen on every inch of each exercise book – just ensure that pupils’ work has been marked in line with your school and department policy.