This is a Premium feature
To use this feature subscribe to Mumsnet Premium - get first access to new features see fewer ads, and support Mumsnet.Start using Mumsnet Premium
Parents' evening(11 Posts)
This is my third year teaching and have parents’ evening coming up in a few weeks. I feel sick about it and during the meetings I’m sure it shows how nervous I am as I stumble over my words and ramble on. Does anyone have any advice on how to reduce my anxieties re meetings. I don’t have any awkward parents’ this year and have my notes all ready to help me. I just want to appear confident when I’m discussing people’s children.
I would start with a 'is there anything you'd like to let me know/discuss' then after that had been followed up have 1/2 academic positives, 1/2 things child needs to work on that parents may be able to help with and finish with 1/2 positive social/attitude to learning comment.
I would also have a couple of handouts- individual targets for reading,writing and maths and a general end of year expectations for the year group. My. DC school do this and it is very helpful.
I meant to say as well being well prepared helps me feel less anxious. It also helps me to talk/think each parent meeting through in advance.
Also having a bottle of water that I can sip whilst I'm thinking of what to say.
Remember, us parents are as nervous as you are. Only thing us parents really don't like is big surprises, reading from MN. Things like dc struggling big time or dc being a big pain, so give them a heads up, so we can have constructive meeting rather than emotional ones.
I actually see the nervous teacher in favour. They are nervous because they value this opportunity to talk to us, because I am the same, when I am talking to the teachers.
Thank you both for the advice. I’m sure they will go smoothly and hopefully it gets easier the longer you teach... or is that wishful thinking!? Haha
I think it does get easier as you go on. But I used to have up to 150 parents on one evening in my first two years of teaching so I think that sort of killed any nerves as it was just an endurance test!
Start each one by stating what an absolute delight the dc is and that they are a joy to have in the class.
Then they won’t notice much after that
I make notes. Just a record of their reading age/level they are working at and anything else I need to jog my memory.
I then find that very useful at the next parents' evening as I remember what I said last time. And then refer to it again when I'm writing reports as it reminds me of how far they've come.
I always forget to have the clock in easy view of where I am sitting and end up getting carried away! As a parent I want to hear if they are ok socially and behaviourally and where they are working in relation to expected levels. If there are concerns what the school is putting in place and what I can do to help.
*Start each one by stating what an absolute delight the dc is and that they are a joy to have in the class.
Then they won’t notice much after that*
That is probably true, for the vast majority of parents!
However there will be a few exceptions ;)
We came away from our most recent parents' evening thinking, in a positively surprised way, 'it seems this teacher knows DS well enough to have been able to pinpoint a weakness he absolutely needs to work on'. There were plenty of things where we weren't happy (mostly regarding targets set that he has mastered already; showing that she doesn't know him that well or isn't willing/able to extend him beyond that) but having her accurately determining something DS is not good at, was such a surprising, positive novelty that we barely noticed anything else (until much later).
On chatting with other parents it turned out that many came away from parents' evening very disappointed: 'she only listed bad things, she doesn't 'get' my child, she clearly doesn't like my child' that kind of stuff.
I guess what made us happy (detailed criticism; makes everything more meaningful, including the positive feedback) made most unhappy. Previous parents' evenings had been very much of the generic 'delightful child, joy to have in class' type which told us literally nothing (positive feedback is meaningless when you can't get across that it is not generic, but rather specific to this child) and left us dissatisfied. Whereas many other parents clearly preferred the other style!
So from my perspective I'd encourage you to make clearly non-generic comments, be they good or bad. Give examples for what you're saying, - she's a joy, you should have been there the other day when she ... - he struggles with spellings, I've noticed in the last spelling test in particular ... . - That kind of stuff.
But the 'bad', couch it carefully. Make sure you don't give an overly negative impression, parents might find it hard to put 'is struggling' in perspective; make it clear what you mean. There's a big difference between 'might have to move him from top to middle table' to 'if this continues, she won't meet year end expectations and will struggle to access next year's curriculum'. Make sure parents know which one you mean.
Whenever you mention something that's not so great about the child (be it academically or behaviour or whatever) do NOT just let it stand there; what are parents meant to do? Rather, follow up immediately with what YOU are doing to support the child with this, and then what THEY the parents might do at home (if anything).
That way, the parents go home feeling that you know their child, that they have learned something from this meeting, and they feel that you are addressing their child's needs, and they feel empowered to support their child too.
Huge contrast to that angry, helpless 'sinking feeling' when parents evening is basically a list of things your child does wrong/is not good at. And also a positive contrast to that 'well this was a bit pointless, I didn't really learn anything new, and as lovely as I believe my child to be, I bet she said the same to 2/3 of the class' meh-feeling we came home with for the first three years of DS' schooling.
Someone advised me years ago when nervous to move around. So maybe if you start to get anxious get up and find a book to show them? Can you give yourself 5 mins breaks between parents so you dont get too tired?