How to deal with the parent-teacher meeting?

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Ah, the dreaded parent-teacher conference. That point in time where if there is something wrong both parties try and pin the blame on the other one and if there is something good both parties try to take credit. Luckily it doesn’t have to be like this and most parent-teacher meetings aren’t. The key to a good parent-teacher meeting is to do some preparation beforehand and to understand what the aim of the meeting is.

These parent-teacher meetings have a habit of being held at the worst time of the day during the worst week of the year. So many parents try to get in and out of a parent-teacher meeting as quickly as possible. Their approach to a meeting is to go to each teacher and ask “Is there anything wrong?” and if the answer is no they move on. This is the entirely wrong approach and attitude towards a meeting.

Of course, if your child has been causing problems in school or having issues with some learning environment time will be spent to help you understand what is happening and why the teacher thinks it is happening. In general, though this is not the purpose of a parent-teacher meeting. A PT meeting should be about understanding how the parent and the teacher can work together to ensure a child has everything they need to be the best version of themselves and to reach their potential. A teacher only spends half the day with a child and a parent the other half. Without working together they may be spending children mixed signals and confusion, at a time when both could be reinforcing the messages they are receiving in the other environment.

So the first thing to understand is to be a team player. Don’t view the teacher as the enemy, look at them as the key to understanding your child at school, and try to understand how you can help make their teaching life easier. Your kid will win as a result.

The second thing to realize is that you should have some questions planned. You should ask about performance, about behaviour, about what you can do at home for the upcoming semester to help to learn. If your child is about to move on to a tough assignment you can do some pre-work at home so they are in a good position to do well.

The third item that is incredibly important is that you should turn up ready to listen. A PT meeting is not an opportunity to complain about your child or your school. Listen to the teacher to hear about everything that you have not witnessed concerning your child.

Finally don’t be afraid to follow up. So many parents complain that there are not enough parent-teacher meetings or they don’t have enough transparency into their children’s school lives. The PT meeting is the beginning of a strong relationship. Use it as an introduction so that you can find out more as time moves on. 

Parent-teacher meetings are something both teachers and parents often dread. It shouldn’t be this way. A PT meeting should allow both parties to provide additional information and to stock up on ideas to help a child progress further. By working together the two individual parts of a child’s life can form a greater whole. Of course, there are some teachers (and some parents) who are just not good people. If you are meeting one of them there is little you can do but keep quiet and wait for the meeting to end. One final point is to include your child in the process. They know you have gone to meet the teacher so always report back some news (both positive and negative) from the session so that they feel clued in.