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A Drama Teachers Parents Evening

Samantha is a Secondary drama teacher and is currently in a long term role in East London. She gives us a run down of what happens at her parents evenings. 

A Drama Peachers Parents Evening

Parents evening is the single most scary event in my teaching diary. On one hand I want to express how well a student is doing or how they need to improve to the parents. However the sheer volume of parents to be seen in one evening sends me into a state of panic.

I teach at a school with 1800 students across key stage three and four, giving each year group around 350 students. I teach half of each year group and most of year 8. So in one evening I will see 175 students’ parents. Of course they are not all present, but I am defiantly looking at seeing at least 100 students’ parents, guardians or siblings. It is impossible to have a full length conversation with all of them so I focus on, as required, their levels and grades and if they are achieving what they should be. I then generally like to comment on their confidence in drama class and how they interact with their peers.

I find in drama that many students that dislike or are more challenged in academic subjects, excel in drama and are very social and confident individuals. The parents of these students love to hear how well they are doing in drama as many other subjects offer improvement areas, giving a negative feeling to their parents evening experience. I feel a great sense of pride in giving parents the news that there child is a brilliant actor, understands the concepts of drama or devise and works well with their drama groups; especially when the parents agree that drama is deservedly an important subject.

On the other hand telling the high achieving student parents that they are very withdrawn in drama is a challenge and I try to suggest that it’s a worthy skill to work on so they will feel confident giving presentation and talking to large groups in future life. Also the parents of students with behaviour issues dislike hearing how their child likes to use the drama chairs as a weapon! Of course I discuss working with other groups, not with their friends, looking at homework so they understand and what to participate more in sessions. Of course these parents still know that I am telling them that their child is far from angelic and truth be told it is within the child’s power and there is not a whole heap either one of us can do. They might behave for a few weeks post parents evening but it soon dies out or they go back through the school sanctions.

The real challenge of parents evening is keeping up the energy and talking for three hours nonstop, even for me and I am a chatterbox. Regular sips of tea and asking the parents and students questions, is my advice. It gives me a breather and a moment to think of what to say next.

I do think that parents evening is an essential part of a student’s education but the process is a draining and tiring one. At least my wonderful school provides sandwiches and soft drinks before the evening starts. The staffroom is always a buzz of chatter and catch ups across departments before the onslaught of parents arrive.

“I have come to believe that a great teacher ia a great artist and that there are as few as there are great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit” - John Steinbeck

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Tags: Samantha, Bromley, Secondary, parents, evening, drama,

Category: Australian Teachers

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