A Parent's Guide to Engaging in a Productive Parent/Teacher Meeting
-from a teacher's point of view, of course.
- Tip 1- Avoid opening the "discussion" with a tirade condemning the school's inefficiencies as a whole. This turns everyone off from the start, and any serious concerns you may have truly had regarding your child's progress is lost in what appears to be just another detail about the school you're currently unhappy with. Plus, while it varies school to school, teachers have very little control on school wide policies. Concerns regarding pick-up/drop off time, student schedules, school uniform, etc...are simply not in my control. If they were, trust that this meeting would not be occurring as it is.
- Tip 2- Avoid stating --and then restating-- how incredibly busy you are as if I couldn't imagine what that must be like. I am too, most adults are, but I still managed to make time less than 24 hours from your request to meet with you on a Friday afternoon, heading into a 3-day weekend, when the rest of the building has already safely evacuated.
- Tip 3- Please avoid sharing your own negative schooling experiences. Your child, while amazingly similar to you during the younger years, is an individual. They have abilities and thoughts that you probably never even considered. Just because you sucked at math or English, and just because according to you, the teachers just let you fail, does not mean little Susie faces those same obstacles. Plus, I'm not a psychologist. I can't help you move on if you're still talking about it twenty years later.
- Tip 4- On a similar note, it is not necessary to share how incredibly intelligent you
arewere, and why that makes certain assignments appear as busy work. 1) I don't assign busy work because I don't have anywhere near the time to grade it. 2) Your sentiment illustrates a direct correlation as to why Susie didn't complete the assignment in the first place. Ironic.
- Tip 5- If your concern is a lack of communication, avoid mentioning the various conversations we've previously shared regarding your child's progress because it actually negates your "side". Also, the letters that were sent home detailing out the assignments in question are legitimately a form of communication. Just because you're busy, and they weren't electronically sent to you, does not invalidate the intent nor the content. And please, don't demonstrate what you do when those letters come home by crumpling up "stuff like that" and faux tossing it in the garbage. All you have done is represent exactly what I would have liked to have done when I received the message that you called.
- Tip 6- Keep in mind that little Susie is growing up, and no matter what her age, has a role in this grand idea of her gaining an education. Sometimes education demands that she be responsible, just like the other 33 students in her class. If you want to ignore her role in her education, then you can just sit back and watch the other 33 students move above and beyond her.
- Tip 7- Please keep your voice down. I am not your child and I will not be bullied. If you think you are going to put me in my place, you will find that your reason for meeting with me (your child's progress) no longer bears any significance to me, and my willingness to work with you exited the building as soon as your attitude arrived. In the end you become just another ignorant ass incapable of having a conversation.
- Tip 8- Oh, so you're friends with a lot of parents at the school. So what? Your supposedly subtle little method of intimidation is so ridiculously immature that its intensity bleeps right off my radar. Maybe during one of your many "play-dates" you can skip talking about that "bitch of a teacher" and instead truly talk student progress. Maybe then you will learn that little Susie is simply not finishing her assignments...but her peers are.
- Tip 9- Avoid, if possible, the condescending tone with which you speak. Okay, so chances are you make more money that me. That isn't hard to do, but I didn't just wake up one morning after high school, roll out of bed, and proclaim myself a teacher. How about putting aside the arrogant demeanor with which you carry yourself, recognize that you're most likely compensating for your own insecurities and ignorance, and treat me like an equal.
- Tip 10- Lastly, and this one may only be relevant to a select few parents, my "duties" at school begin at 7:32 on some days and end at 3:35. With the exception of Fridays, when I actually have a planning period, I am scheduled with students for every moment of that time [excluding my 25 minute lunch]. This time frame does not in anyway incorporate the grading, planning, and parent communication that also must occur. You tell me how you're busy with Susie and her brothers and sisters...well, I'm busy too... with Susie and the 69 other students that I have on my roster and with whom I'm reminded on a daily basis need to exceed standards on the AIMS. If your biggest concern is her low grade in homework--I sincerely suggest you recognize that I'm not the one who goes home with her.