The beginning of the school year sees many schools using the meet the teacher meetings to connect with parents. This is a typical way for schools to reach out to parents and given the nature of working parents, often late at night, so that more parents can attend. While there are different types of meetings parents can have with their children’s schools (eg formal and informal) the gathering of a group of parents at one time can have some great benefits for the classroom teacher. To kick off the parent/teacher meeting season, there are some points to consider in order for these meetings to be effective.
Give Ample Notice.
Make sure that you provide enough time for family and friends to learn about the meeting. If the principal is in charge of delivering announcements, make sure that they have sent out the announcements ahead of time. If possible, send a backup notice as well. Make sure to give parents enough notice about your meeting, and avoid making them feel left out. It is important that all parents make your meeting. Keep reminding your students each day that you are looking forward to catching up with their parents.
Start Preparing Well in Advance.
The meeting should be enlightening to parents, and it should aim to provide as much information as possible. Organise your meeting so that it has a clear agenda. If you have time, think about what parents want to know about the theme before the meeting. This way, you can be prepared with answers to their questions.
Think about the layout of the room.
Before the meeting, set up your room. Think about questions like these:
- Will the messages my parents receive when they enter my room be the ones I want them to see?
- Are my displays neat, tidy and organized? Will people be able to understand the work we have done so far?
- How will I seat the parents? In a circle so they can easily participate?
Make sure people can see and easily get into your room.
Make sure that the parents who are coming to the school know where to go. If it is an evening meeting, make sure that the lights are on in the parking lot and hallways, as well as by your classroom door. If there is a difficult route to your classroom, consider using temporary signs to show people the way.
Start your meeting on time.
Starting your meeting on time is very important. It makes you look polite and like you value other people’s time. If you start on time, that means you need to arrive early at the meeting place so everything is ready to go when people show up.
Have a plan for what you will do during the parent meeting.Having planned your meeting, outline the topics that you want to discuss. Follow the agenda as much as possible, but be prepared for valuable, unexpected topics that may come up.
There are a lot of things to discuss when meeting with your child’s teacher. This might include class routines, rules, behavior, homework policies, volunteer opportunities for parents, curriculum issues, teacher-parent communication, and more. If you have any reading material to help the parents understand the issues, prepare this in advance.
A workable starting sequence might be:
- Purpose of the meeting and an outline
- Connect with the school vision
- Discuss what is to be covered in each of the key learning areas.
- Provide strategies to help at home.
- Allow Q&A time
- Provide time to peruse the classroom, look at their children’s books and work samples.
- Conclude with a thank you and how to communicate with you
If you make promises to take follow-up actions, make sure you actually do them. If you don’t, people may not trust you and be less likely to work with you in the future. It is good practice to let all of the parents know the outcome of meetings and what actions you will be taking. You can do this by letter, a news sheet, or even on your website. Remember to communicate regularly
Parent meetings are important because they help parents learn about what is going on in their child’s school. They also give parents a chance to ask questions and talk to the teacher. However, the most important outcome of the parent meeting is the opportunity to build parent confidence in you as an educator.
Whenever you meet with parents, it is important to build a relationship of mutual trust, which takes time. However, if you put in the effort and have patience, good relationships are more rewarding than anything else!
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