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If you haven’t been through the process yet, no doubt it’s coming up in the next few days or early next term.
These occasions can be quite nerve-racking for parents but nerve-racking for teachers, too. It takes a lot of energy being on the ball, often at the end of the day, having all the information on each pupil ready to recall, comments to make and questions to ask in the face of a constant flow of parents.
Teachers don’t know what questions we might have and they are pressured by time constraints and an awareness of the next parents waiting to see them.
So how can we get the best out of these events? Being well-prepared on our part is just as important as it is for the teacher. That way it can be a two-way discussion that, even if brief, can be productive and worthwhile in both sharing information and establishing an understanding between home and school.
Before going, write down the questions you want to ask. Put them in order of priority in case time runs out. You’ll probably want to know about achievement, behaviour and relationships with other children. You might have some issues like homework or bullying. Note any home situation or special circumstances about your child that you feel would be worth sharing with the teacher. After all, we know what makes them tick better than anyone.
We can throw a whole new light on a classroom situation, which may lead the teacher to take a different approach in dealing with it. If we don’t let them know they can’t act.
Ask your children if there are matters they would like you to talk about. On the day, be prompt as these events are usually on a tight timetable. Lateness will either leave you with little time or will eat into other parents’ time.
Try to begin on a positive note. Listen carefully. I always found it useful to take notes for my own reference and for discussion later at home. And you can note further questions to ask before the session ends. Be ready to ask for clarification if you don’t understand something.
If there turn out to be problems, brainstorm some ways you can work together on them. Take a ‘‘How can we help?’’ or ‘‘What can I do?’’ approach.
If there are unresolved issues, arrange to meet again as soon as possible to give more time for discussion and some time for you and the teacher to consider matters.
When all is said and done, the education of children works best as a partnership.