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Parent Teacher Evening

Gareth is a Secondary Teacher from Australia who is working in West London schools through Protocol Education. Gareth isn't a fan of parent teaching evenings. He explains why.

Keeping a channel of communication open between a teacher and a student’s parents (slash guardian) is crucial to the development of a child. However, most of the oxygen-releasing-algae you pump into the metaphoric channel travel beyond the horizon to a waterfall out of view, where it cascades down into an abyss of nothingness. Worse still, you may think you have opened the channel of communication, when in fact you’ve been metaphorically draining it; thus leaving you in the equivalent hypothetical position as someone standing at Portsmouth looking south to the nearest French coastal village wondering how to get across the cavernous space, had the dividing waters of England and France vapourised.

For teachers, there are two benefits of parent teacher evenings:

  1. Free dinner – varies from a cold serving of disillusionment to a full helping of curry from the buffet; presuming you beat the PE teachers to the plate. Unless of course you are the PE teachers. In which case, “Game On!”. Unless of course the plate I was referring to was a home plate in a game of baseball. In which case the PE teacher wins every time. Except this will be a hollow victory in that it will result in a home run, not dinner.
  2. All your suspicions that your students’ behaviours were a case of nurture not nature are proven to be true. Likewise, your suspicions that Jonathan’s lazy eye was a case of nature not nurture prove to be true. Either that or he is inbred, which is technically still nature not nurture.

The second point is always what proves to me that parent teacher evenings are a waste of time. If the parents are bad, they’re not going to take your advice. If the parents are good, they’ve already heard your advice from somewhere else and have put it into action. That’s why they’re good parents.

Maybe it’s not about giving advice, though. Maybe parent teacher evenings are about putting a name to the face. But frankly, how many faces and names should I store in my head? With just over five years of teaching, the facial recognition part of my brain is already like a 3000 page album of basketball cards – except no one is famous, the statistics are average and the cards are not in numerical order. And if the parents want to put a face to my name, maybe they should have Googled me like their stalker 14-year-old daughter did.

Alternatively they could just Google, “Why parent teacher meetings are a waste of time”, to which they will immediately see the phrases ‘total waste of time’ and ‘put parents in jail’; the American terminology of ‘conference’ instead of ‘meeting’ (come on people, we’re just talking about little Jessica, it’s not the UN); and hopefully this blog. Then after much deliberating they’ll decide to stay home where the student’s younger siblings can destroy their own set of crayons instead of the school set paid for by the State’s taxes.

Once back home the parent can hopefully spend the extra time chastising their co-parent about their behaviour management system, which has led to their offspring’s downward spiral. When the blame game is finished they can write down whatever suggestions they were going to provide about the operation of the school. This can then be posted to the nearest district education office where it will be overlooked accordingly. Parents should also spend a substantial amount of time speaking with other parents, preferably those who don’t attend a workplace, about the failings of the industry that is provided to them at minimal cost for the Monday to Friday upbringing of their child.

If there is still time left after these activities have taken place, the parent can safely retire to the sofa for an episode of EastEnders before attending to the Peggy Mitchell-style rearing of their child.
We can only dream that one day parent teacher meetings will be rendered void. Or that at the least the only ones we will have is where the parent is also a student and has to meet with a teacher, who is hopefully not the other parent of the student’s child; or, that the parent is also the teacher and simply meets with themself to have a self reflexive monologue before spontaneously combusting in an existential fireball.

Have you got parent's evening coming up or recently had one? We'd like to know how you prepare and what suggestions you have to other teachers. Email us at teacherservices@protocol-education.com.


Tags: Gareth, London, Secondary, Australian-trained, parents, evening, meetings, communication, advice, advantages

Category: Australian Teachers


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