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Parent's Evening Tips

Secondary teacher Giles who works for Protocol Education in Manchester and shares his tips for surviving the all important parent's evening.

My first parents’ evening was terrifying. Granted, a lot of it was due to teaching in a school with pushy parents, scheming students and callous colleagues, but I think it’s daunting for everyone. If you’re a supply teacher and you’ve only been there a number of weeks this is particularly tricky. For anyone going through this process for the first time I’ve got a few hints for you that might just take the edge off things.

1) Have books or marked work at the ready.
You’ll never know your students better than when you’ve corrected every apostrophe and circled every spelling mistake. Most parents simply want to know how their pride and joy is doing and any ways they can help them improve. You usually have 5 minutes to do this and the queue is starting to back up. Check through their books, tell them how they’re doing, have a helpful hint handy and then in the words of my close personal friend Jay-Z: onto the next one!

2) A list of faces would be handy.
You’re not worried about what to say to your favourite students, you’re not even worried about what to say to the worst ones (you’ve got some choice phrases lined up) the biggest problem is your RHINO (Really Here In Name Only) students. They’re quiet, they’re friendly, and whilst they’re content to simply be extras in the show that is your lesson, they’re stars of someone else’s whole life. Again, check through the books and if you really are struggling, “try to speak up more in class” is always a good one.

3) Ask them how they think they’re doing.
You’ve just said bye to one set of parents and this lot have just turned up in front of you. This question will help you play for time and it will also help you create a sympathetic audience. It’s rare that the student who makes your life a living hell on a regular basis will proudly proclaim that they are a model student. Once you’ve established some acceptance that they’re not performing as well as they should be the rest should be easy.

4) Have a bowl of sweets ready.
This is my most important piece of advice. I’m not kidding. You will instantly become popular with colleagues and psychologically parents will associate you with sweet things! Get toffees, wait for them to gum up their jaws with delicious caramel goodness, and then jump into a pleasant tirade before they say a thing. I’m such an evil genius I scare myself.

5) Don’t pretend to know everything.
You’re a professional. You want to be seen as such. I get it. But  the fact is, you won’t have all the answers. You get a question that you have no idea about? Politely say you’re not 100% sure about the specific details on that one. You’ll make a note of it, and get back to them.

Here endeth the lesson. Most importantly, remember you don’t need to pretend you’re an intelligent, educational professional, you already are. A healthy dose of self-doubt is par for the course. Now go get ‘em tiger!

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Tags: Giles, Secondary, Manchester, parents, supply, teaching, evening, report, accountable,

Category: Australian Teachers

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