When it comes to parent-teacher interviews, most of us fall into one of two camps – endure or enjoy. If you feel nervous before heading into your child’s school, don’t. You’re not actually being interviewed. Nor are you interviewing the teacher. What you’re actually signing up for is a conversation about your child’s learning.
The conversations should be mutually beneficial – teachers want to know more about your child’s interests and learning styles. While we try to keep track of everyone’s likes and dislikes, it can be tough keeping tabs on all 120 of your charges!
What you are interested in is clarification about your child’s progress and ways you can support their learning. There shouldn’t be heaps of edu speak. If you hear terms you don’t understand, ask. If your NCEA knowledge isn’t quite up to speed (i.e. if you were born before 2002!), ask the teacher to explain the system to you. Most schools run NCEA information evenings and send information home. Go, read it. Knowledge is power.
You’ll probably only have 10 minutes so you need to maximise your time. Here’s a few tips for simplifying parent-teacher conersations:
- Talk to your child beforehand – ask what they think is going well, check if they have any concerns or if there is anything they are unsure of.
- Pick one focus per subject area – e.g I’m concerned about Jack’s essay writing in English.
- Check homework expectations – it’s not always wise to take Jack’s take on homework verbatim. In many subjects, there are homework expectations that might be ongoing throughout the year (such as independent reading in English).
- Raise concerns constructively – approach interviews as a collaboration not a showdown. You’re on the same team! The teacher has your child’s best interest at heart. If something isn’t working, you both need to find out why.
- Don’t get personal – goes without saying that teachers are people too. Many are also parents so they totally understand why you might be feeling a bit apprehensive.
- Be realistic when setting learning goals for/with your children – not everyone can be Dux the same as not everyone can be in the top sports’ teams. Set achievable goals for your kids. Try not to worry what other people’s offspring are up to – all learners have strengths between and within subjects. 🙂
- Encourage your children to value education – it’s really difficult for schools and teachers to have positive relationships with learners if education is spoken about negatively at home. Learning is a life long journey. We should always value the opportunities we have to learn new things.
- Similarly, don’t bad mouth teachers around kids. Stands to reason that if you don’t think much of the profession, neither will your children.
If your child is attending with you, discuss the above with them. And if interviews aren’t your thing, try an email or a phone call after school. That might be a better forum for you to have those all important learning conversations.