Make the Most of Parent-Teacher Meetings

Parent- teacher meetings are an indispensable aspect of a child’s education, from primary to senior school. Held twice or thrice a year, they essentially aim at establishing a line of communication between the parent, the teacher and the student. The meeting is usually of 5 - 10 minutes duration. In that time the teacher must inform the parent about the progress their child has been making in class. When a conference is held, everyone has some expectations from the meeting. For example, parents desire to understand how their child is progressing in school. From a teacher’s perspective, the meeting may be an opportunity to inform parents early on about any problems concerning a child’s academic   progress or social skill:

Here are some ways in which the meeting can be made more successful:

1. Start and end on a positive note: Always start the meeting on a positive note. Inform the parents about everything their child has been able to achieve. Then move on to the areas in which you believe the child needs improvement. End with solutions to overcome these hurdles and reassure the parents that their child will keep improving.

2. Grades: Do not make the meeting all about grades. A parent can always observe the child’s grades through a report card. Although grades are important, give sufficient time to discussing the overall development of the child in the class and otherwise. For example, if the child enjoys class interactions or needs encouragement to open up during discussions, inform the parents about this.

3. Listen Actively: Listen attentively when a parent is talking. You can also take notes. This will give the parent the impression that you take their child’s development very seriously. Additionally, it will reassure them of your abilities as a teacher. 

4. Two-way communication: In the five minutes that has been allotted to each parent, make sure that it is not you who is doing all the talking. Similarly, do not let the parent keep talking about what their child is like at home. The meeting should be a two-way discussion in which the teacher and the parent are sharing thoughts and information on children’s growth and performance in school. 

5. Tell stories: Share stories about the child’s behaviour in class. You can also bring along some of the work the child has done in class. For example, show the parent a wonderful essay that the child has written. This will indicate to the parents that you take an active role and involve yourself in the child’s life.

The primary goal of any teacher or parent is to ensure that their child is doing well and he or she is getting a good education. A parent-teacher meeting, therefore, is designed to further this intention. If the meeting ever ends with the parent or the teacher feeling dissatisfied with what has been discussed, then the interaction has not been a successful one. In such situations, it is important that the teacher opens up new lines of communication between her and the parent, by phone or e-mail. This way, the parent doesn’t have to wait for the next meeting to roll around, to get an idea of the progress his child is making.