Advice For Parents’ Evening

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What can you do to survive a parents’ evening?

It’s getting to that time of year again – the nights are drawing in and you get to school when it’s dark and you leave when it’s dark! You come to the realisation that we have been back teaching for nearly two months and you’re already exhausted.

What more could we want? Ah, yes. Parents’ evening, or parents’ consultations, or however your school wants to put a spin on it. This is the time when parents or carers come to listen to you to talk about their children’s progress and their progress only.

Meet The Parents

During my teacher training, parents’ evening was never mentioned once, so during my first parents evening in my NQT year, I had no idea what to expect. I had only visited my secondary schools parents’ evenings so I went in with a clear focus and I feel it has put me in good stead ever since. Such good stead that I’m usually one of the first teachers out in the evening!

Here is some advice that you might find useful during your parents evenings this upcoming year and into the future.

1. Be concise

As teachers, we love to talk. We talk pretty much all day. Parents want to know how their children are performing and what they can do to help. I print off and give them all a copy of their targets and talk through what they should be expected to by the end of the year. I say what they are performing well in and what they are finding difficult and what could be done at home to help.

2. Avoid Jargon

We (mostly) understand the terms emerging, progressing and mastered or whatever assessment system your school is using, but most parents probably don’t. Simplify it so they understand and follow what you are saying. Use the sheets printed out to help explain what you are saying. By avoiding the jargon, you won’t waste time explaining yourself and you’ll be out the door quicker!

3. Keep hydrated

Make sure you drink lots of water. After talking for pretty much all day, your voice will be feeling it so drink lots of water. I always have a 1.5 litre of water on the go – keep drinking that water!

4. Keep to the time

I make sure I start on time and keep to the ten minute time slot as much as possible. I already have an idea of the appointments that may over run-run. I position them in the best place possible, near appointments that you know will be short and sweet, so if you do over-run, you can claw back some of that time with the ‘nice’ meeting.

Another thing I do if parents are late and the next set of parent’s are waiting. Let them jump in. I understand this can be difficult, especially if the teachers of their siblings are running over time, but I find it really works well.

5. Progress only

Once again, I talk about their progress only. If I wanted to talk about any issues such as behaviour problems, changes in the child, then I catch the parent at the end of the day or give them a call. This may sound really horrible, but that is what is sent out by the school in bold capital letters:

THESE MEETINGS ARE TO TALK ABOUT YOUR CHILD’S PROGRESS ONLY.’

I stick to that.

Jack Gulston

Jack writes for the Teacher Toolkit site from a primary perspective and is in his third year of teaching. He worked as a teaching assistant in a special needs school for 3 years before going on to complete his education degree. He is currently teaching in year 2 and works in a school that is in an area of high-deprivation and high social-mobility.

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