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Secondary school parents' evenings

(43 Posts)
TheFirstOfHerName Thu 12-Feb-15 13:21:19

Does anyone actually enjoy these, or even feel they are beneficial?

I don't like crowds, I hate standing around waiting, and it takes me more than 5 minutes to warm to someone and develop effective communication with them.

It doesn't matter what time our appointments are scheduled for; I always feel as though everyone else is managing to see more teachers than we are.

I have two of these evenings coming up, and I find them frustrating and exhausting.

Heels99 Thu 12-Feb-15 13:25:03

Do you have an alternative proposal to suggest to the school?
Why do you find it exhausting?
Why do you go if there is no benefit to you?

I would like to say Big thanks to all teachers who give up their personal time with their own families to do parents evenings it is appreciated by some parents.

ragged Thu 12-Feb-15 13:42:28

They aren't compulsory. I learn a fair bit and it's good for my disengaged DS, he actually really does engage in thinking about what his teachers say about him at the PE. DD's we mostly spent time asking about GCSE options-syllabus-decisions, so that was very helpful too. Some of her teachers were so enthusiastic, impassioned about their subject, I enjoyed meeting them.

MrsSquirrel Thu 12-Feb-15 13:48:03

I find them exhausting too. It's a very stimulating environment, to say the least. I imagine it's even more exhausting for the teachers, who have to stay there the whole time.

IMO the main benefits are for dd to hear what the teachers have to say and for us parents to show her that we think her education is important.

I always feel as though everyone else is managing to see more teachers than we are. Do you have any evidence for this? Why does it matter what others are doing?

We always decide with dd which teachers we want to see. We never try to see them all. Our strategy is to see the main subject teachers - English, maths, science - plus any subject dd is finding hard, plus a subject dd is doing particularly well in.

TeenAndTween Thu 12-Feb-15 14:48:24

I have found them to be very beneficial.

I prepare up to 3 points or questions per subject booked. I don't see teachers where I have nothing to ask (if teacher particularly want to see you they request a slot). Let the teacher speak first if there is something they want to say, then raise my points or questions.

I've never seen a tech or pe or music teacher, as DD has no particular interest or aptitude, but had good effort levels.

Once I didn't even see the maths teacher (which was amazing for me). (Though I did ask DD to pass on message saying I was happy).

TheFirstOfHerName Thu 12-Feb-15 14:55:59

I think I would find a short written message more helpful, e.g. John is improving in his X and now needs to concentrate on Y. He might find it helpful to try Z.

This might just be the way I find it easy to absorb information. DS1 is the same; if I tell him something verbally then he doesn't take it in, but a text or post-it note seems to work.

We usually attend for two hours and manage to see five or six teachers. So three quarters of the time is spent not doing anything.

I am not ungrateful to the teachers; they are all very dedicated. I can't imagine they enjoy parents' evenings much either, especially after working a full day.

I have many Aspergic traits (both DF and DS2 have AS) which perhaps explains why I find these evenings so stressful.

titchy Thu 12-Feb-15 15:03:48

After each one why don't you write down two or three main points that they raised. Then you have something written down you can go back to. Also solves the problem of all the teachers merging into one!

TheFirstOfHerName Thu 12-Feb-15 15:06:47

I think that one of the reasons I am dreading it so much this time is that DS1 is struggling in about half of his GCSE subjects. He is in top sets and has A/A* targets but has been ill for nearly two years, which makes it hard for him to concentrate in lessons and his grades in some subjects are C/D. His reports always say 'behind target' or 'concern' for most subjects because of the high targets. I have asked for him to be moved down a set for three subjects where he is struggling the most, but the request was denied.

TheFirstOfHerName Thu 12-Feb-15 15:07:26

After each one why don't you write down two or three main points that they raised. Then you have something written down you can go back to.

That is helpful advice; thank you.

ragged Thu 12-Feb-15 16:22:40

We usually attend for two hours and manage to see five or six teachers. So three quarters of the time is spent not doing anything.

That part sounds awful, no wonder you dread going.
Do you hover around asking if and where they have free slots to squeeze you in? This works for us (DS is hopeless at getting any appts).

TheFirstOfHerName Thu 12-Feb-15 17:38:13

Once one appointment is over, we go to the next one and wait outside the room with the other parents. There is a (usually full) list of times and names on the door. If our child is able to identify the child currently in there, then we can use that to see how far behind the teacher is running. The teachers do their best to run on time, but sometimes parents turn up while we are waiting and expect to go next because their appointment was two hours ago, which puts the times out.

ragged Thu 12-Feb-15 17:45:44

Have you tried going to rooms where you don't have an appt to see if they could squeeze you in?
If appts are all always chockablock for every teacher at every time then sounds like an amazingly organised cohort of kids or not enough appt. slots for all the kids. Never mind the very involved parents all turning up, I think most schools a lot of parents never go.

Can you email teachers instead, to ask questions or get feedback? Maybe would be better for you.

TheFirstOfHerName Thu 12-Feb-15 17:55:01

Thankfully, the teachers are really good at communicating by email. They have emailed me whenever there is a problem or concern, and sometimes with an encouraging test result. When I email a teacher, I usually get a reply within 24 hours.

I just feel it would be a bit presumptuous/entitled of me to expect my parent consultations by email, when the teachers have already devoted an evening to face-to-face meetings.

I think I'm just going to have to suck it up; maybe take a flask of tea and some biscuits for the slow periods.

At DS1's parents' evenings, there has recently been an undercurrent of disappointment / lack of sympathy from DH, so I feel caught in the middle of that, too.

TheFirstOfHerName Thu 12-Feb-15 17:58:54

sounds like an amazingly organised cohort of kids or not enough appt. slots for all the kids. Never mind the very involved parents all turning up

The school has an unusually high proportion of competitive students and 'tiger' parents. Not Q E Barnet or Habs, but along those lines.

QuaverQueen Thu 12-Feb-15 18:01:14

I've never been to my DCs, I always make DH go. blush
I'm claustrophobic and hard of hearing, I can't hear in a noisy open plan environment. DH has always said it would be pointless me going but he has a new job now and won't be back in time so I'm going to have to go this year, I'm panicking already!

TheFirstOfHerName Thu 12-Feb-15 18:06:46

QuaverQueen It sounds as though you're going to find it really difficult, and not take away anything useful from it either. Can you email and say that neither of you can make it this time?

QuaverQueen Thu 12-Feb-15 18:28:47

I broke the precedent of not attending earlier this year when I went to DS's with DH as he was in a lot of pain and on crutches. I copped with that one as it was year 13 so a lot quieter but DD is yr 8 so I imagine it will be chaos but how can I not go the hers having been to DS'?

SomewhereIBelong Thu 12-Feb-15 20:57:05

There are never enough slots for Maths or English, so we don't see those teachers - by their request - they only want to see those with problems - just do an email if any questions.

Callooh Thu 12-Feb-15 21:08:49

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mummytime Thu 12-Feb-15 21:23:59

I like the way my DCs are organised now. 1 at the beginning of the year for all years, meeting with form tutor. Then 1 of each year group, spread over the year (in a rational order so years 11 and sixth form earlier, then year 9, so there is time to use the information before exams/choosing options). Teachers request appointments, but you can then make appointments with any you wish to see.

Teachers like it as, school finishes early on those days, so they aren't kept too late.

mathsy Thu 12-Feb-15 21:35:12

As a teacher I enjoy parent's evenings even though they're exhausting. I love it when parents bring a list of specific questions they want to ask, it shows they're really interested. I also like it when a parent tells me about something their DS/DD has done in my lesson and how much they enjoyed it.

It's also good when a parent writes down any advice you give about how their DD/DS can improve. What can be annoying sometimes is when a parent sits there very passively, doesn't ask any questions, doesn't speak and then leaves after I've said my piece.

Callooh Thu 12-Feb-15 21:52:49

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Killasandra Thu 12-Feb-15 22:24:24

I hate parents eve for same reasons.

Everyone in the hall so it's very noisy and very crowded. DS doesn't cope well with crowds.

It's not at all private so all the other parents can hear which I hate.

I know how he's doing because I get his grades before. So I don't need the teacher to tell me how he's doing.

I hate them. But I know you're judged as 'not being interested' if you don't go. So I go.

I am interested. Very interested. Which is why I don't rely on 5 mins a year to tell me how he's doing. I always know how he's doing.

clary Thu 12-Feb-15 22:46:51

I really enjoy parents' evenings. I mean as a teacher. I realise I am a bit weird but I love to see the parents and make a connection (sometimes they and their children look so alike which makes me smile).

I love it when there is a parent who really seems keen and interested in my subject (which is perceived as difficult and not very popular). The other week we had an options evening and I spent about 10 mins chatting to a mum whose son I don't even teach (his teacher was in a different room) tho I know the lad - it was lovely and I will remember her and her enthusiasm for him taking MFL for GCSE, so I really hope I teach him next year.

I agree if you get a po-face and no reaction you do wonder why people have come but that's rare tbh.

BackforGood Thu 12-Feb-15 22:54:42

Well, they aren't really there to be 'enjoyed' are they?
I find them very beneficial - if nothing else, so I can actually put a face to the name when the dc mention someone. I need to meet someone to have any sort of relationship with them, however professional and irregular that may be.
I do though - as someone suggested upthread, tend to write down a few words about what each teacher said, to discuss with dc later, or share with dh.
I much preferred ds's school's system of all teachers being in the hall and you just joined a queue to dds' school where they are supposed to get appointments prior to the evening and the teachers are spread around the school, and so if one is running late, it knocks you out for all the following ones - I get quite stressed about all that side of it.

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