So far here at more than a mum, we have focused on toddlers and Mums. That is where Loretta and I are at with our own parenting. Today, I want to discuss something for parents of older children: school parents’ evenings
As you may know I (Ruth) am a secondary school teacher and recently when attending a Mums get together, I chatted to a number of women with older children. Something that they all said was that one of the toughest parenting challenges they faced was school. In part, this was due to finding they didn’t understand “the system”.
One area where many parents can feel lost is parents’ evening. You may feel anxious and as if you are on trial, waiting for the verdict to be pronounced on you via your little darling’s achievements or misdemeanours. Teachers have to see tens of parents in very short order and (at secondary school, especially) you are often only allocated a 5-10minute slot with each teacher. You want to spend as long as necessary, but are aware of the queue building behind you and the mounting chorus of sighs and tuts.
Firstly I thought it may be useful to tell you how the teacher may be feeling. I cannot say that this goes for all teachers; I can only talk from my own experience. The thoughts below are amalgamation of my own thoughts, experiences and observations through ten years of teaching.
“As a teacher I am frustrated by the short time slots. They don’t allow me to talk properly with parents. I am also very aware of the huge queue building up and wary of the parent who wants to talk for the entire evening. I would like to build a good relationship with parents but often don’t feel that there is the time on these evenings.
“For parents of children who are doing well, I may not say much. I want these students to do well, but as their families are obviously already doing all the right things, spending ages talking them is not my priority. I may tell you statistics and use acronyms without explaining them to you – this because I forget that you may not understand and I know it they mean that your child is doing well.
“For parents of children who need more support in learning or behaviour, I may appear to lecture you and not let you get a word in edgeways. This is because there are a number of things that I need to say to you and I am aware that time is short. I am used to talking to students who are expected to listen and can sometimes forget that I’m not in the classroom. I want you to be involved; in fact I need you to be involved if we are going to help your child.”
So, that was my view on the part of the teacher in parents’ evening, but as the name suggests, it should not be about the teacher. The second part of this blog is therefore, over to you. Please add your questions and answers below. As a parent, what do you want to know about parents’ evenings? What most frustrates you? What is the thing you always want to find out, but never can? Which acronyms do you need explaining? Has your child’s school really got something right? Have you got a parents’ evening insight to share?
Also, are there any more teachers out there (I know there’s a few of us hiding, unnoticed in the mummy-blogging community!) who could share a hint or tip for parents about how to make parents’ evenings a successful interaction for all concerned? Or can any of you answer the questions posted? I hope that this blog will get a dialogue going and help to remove at least some of the barriers of “the system” that the women I spoke to seemed to have found.