While it’s very rare these days for a teacher not to be in contact with families whether it’s a short chat in the morning or a phone call if there’s an incident in school, Parent Teacher Meetings are fairly formal affairs where there is a definite formula and format and expectation. Up until COVID-19 came along, these meetings always happened in the classroom. These days there are other options like a Zoom meeting or even one by phone. However, the format remains the same – it’s usually a ten minute chat with a summary of how a child is progressing. For the purposes of this article, we’ll assume it’s a face-to-face meeting but you can transfer it to any other context.
Given that each meeting is only ten minutes in length, it’s important that you are in control of the meeting. You need to decide what you want to discuss but you also need to give the parent/guardian some time to raise any topics they want to talk about. Most parents will be interested in their child’s progress in literacy and numeracy, but also their general behaviour and attitude in class. There’s very little point in trying to tell parents about their progress in fabric and fibre in Visual Arts during this meeting. Save that for the end-of-year report! (Of course, if the parent is someone that makes rugs for a living, then it might be worth telling them about their child’s skills with hessian!)
It’s a good idea to have some notes pre-planned for each child. The templates above are a good guide. You don’t need to spend a huge amount of time on this – with 30 pupils in a class, you won’t have time! A few words to remind you of things you need to say is enough.
Dos and Don’ts
- Try not to be too formal. Traditionally the teacher might sit behind their desk and have the parents/guardians on the other side of it. These days, a more round table layout will put people more at ease.
- Speaking of which, while you might be nervous, don’t forget the parents/guardians will be too. Be friendly and welcoming and try to put them at ease.
- Have brief notes on each child. While you’ll know each child in your class well, you may have something you want to say that you don’t want to forget.
- Due to time constraints, it’s best to let parents/guardians know that the purpose of the meeting is to give a summary of progress and that if there’s a need to speak for longer, a follow-up meeting should be arranged.
- If you feel confident enough, you might ask the parents to start the meeting with any comments or questions. Take notes.
- If you’d prefer, you could start the meeting with a summary of the child’s progress and then ask parents/guardians if they have any questions.
- In younger classes, the focus for parents will probably be on how well they are reading and on their basic maths. A lot of parents won’t realise how good their child is doing.
- In the middle classes, parents may be interested in tips for learning tables and things like that. There are some ideas here on our Mash YouTube Channel
- In older classes, talk will likely be of second level and the various options out there. It’s no harm to be familiar with the secondary schools in your locality.
- Some teachers like to give the parents notes on their child but it’s not necessary. Keep things simple.
- Consider preparing a one-pager to give to each parent/guardian with some websites, booklists, ideas, etc. that they can do at home. There’s no need to individualise them.
- Many parents/guardians just want to know that you like their child. Don’t forget to let parents know how lovely their child is! All children have fantastic personalities – make sure to point out the best aspects, whether that is they’re funny, confident, quirky, always smiling, and so on.
We hope these tips will help you out for Parent Teacher Meetings. You can check out some of our Parent Teacher Meeting products here.