HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OUT OF PARENT TEACHER MEETINGS

Parent Teacher Meetings are an opportunity for both parents and teachers to collaborate for the improvement of the child’s education. Parents and teachers need not approach the interaction as if going into a war-zone. Instead, if they come to an agreement that the purpose of the conference is to benefit the child, the meeting can take on a more positive direction. Parent Teacher Meetings are taking on a new dimension of partnerships between the parent and teacher in the best CBSE schools in Bangalore and other metropolitan cities. Here are some tips on making the most out of these meetings.

Being on Time – Parents and teachers need to remember that being five minutes early is ‘on time,’ and being ‘on time’ is coming late to the conference.  It is advisable to mark the calendar and set a phone or computer reminder.

No surprises – Parents don’t want to be caught unaware by poor grades, inappropriate behaviour, or missing assignments when sitting in front of the teacher. Parents need to keep abreast of their child’s performance at school by tracking the school handbook.

Being prepared – Parents can bring a list of items that they would like to discuss at the conference. This could include bringing business cards or papers with their up-to-date contact information. The one question parents need to ask their child’s teacher is, ‘how can I best help you help my child?’ Parents must subsequently be ready to listen to the teacher’s answers, suggestions, and recommendations. Parents need to make a list of questions and concerns they have for the teacher ahead of time and they can use a pen and paper to write down important notes that their child’s teacher makes about the child’s learning successes and areas for improvement.

Asking your child how things are at school – Parents can talk to their child about any issues the child would like their parents to take to the meeting on their behalf. Parents need to then remember to report back to their child what they learned during the meeting about their child’s classroom successes and behavior.

Being solutions oriented – When either party is defensive, it creates a counter-productive atmosphere at the meeting. Even if parents have issues or concerns about their child’s teacher, they’ll get more out of the meeting going in with an open mind and open ears. If negative issues are brought up, it’s likely that the teacher is looking to the parent for help to solve the problem. If parents do have concerns, many of them, such as complaints about school policies and class size, are above the teacher’s pay scale and are best brought up directly with the administration or the board. Parents need to bring a solutions-oriented mindset to the meeting and remind themselves that they and their child’s teacher have a common goal during the meeting — a shared desire to help the child have the best possible school year.

Working as a team – Parents need to work as a team with the teacher as the goal is to help the child improve. The Parent Teacher Conference is an opportunity for parents to learn about their children’s progress in school and for teachers to gain insights into the lives of their students’ in their homes and communities. The teachers can learn from the parents’ perspectives on student strengths and needs, learning styles, and nonschool learning opportunities which in turn can shape their instructional methods.

Emphasis on student learning – Research shows that family involvement is most effective when it is “linked to learning”. An important goal of the first Parent Teacher Conference is to develop new strategies to support the child’s learning at school and at home. Teachers should be prepared to discuss the academic progress of their students by using examples of student work and assessments during the Parent Teacher Conference.

Follow up – Parent Teacher Conferences are no longer a once-a-year ‘check-in’; they can provide useful insights for clear and immediate next steps and follow-up meetings. According to the Harvard Family Research Project, to get the most out of the Parent Teacher Conference, both the teacher and the parent should know what comes next. Parents need to brainstorm with the teacher to come up with ways to solve the challenges their child faces by asking for concrete examples of things they can do at home to help their child. Parents can ask the teacher to schedule a longer meeting in the coming weeks if they have gone beyond the stipulated time.

The top ICSE and international schools are encouraging parents in Bangalore and other metropolitan cities to get involved in their child’s education. They look to fostering a healthy parent teacher relationship on an expansive scale as they want to see many more parents and teachers enter into positive and productive collaborations for the betterment of every child’s education.

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