Have a Successful ‘School Parent Teacher Meet’ – Smart ways for smart Parents

Parents whatever you are  by  Profession , YOU  are also  Smart Parents of today. Today’s smart Parents are tech-savvy and very conscientious about handling each aspect of their lives and are goal oriented. So Parents, why should a meet which is about the most important part of your life –your children, be taken casually. It sure has to be handled the smart way. Prepare for it, as you must for any other meet which is expected to yield results.

An open day or a parent teacher meet (we concentrate here on only one to one meets) should actually carry a big ‘Handle with Care’ slip tagged to it. An unprepared attendance or a few unsolicited casual words by you at the PTM can result in wasted time, both- yours and the teacher’s.  It would also not yield the desired outcome-the best possible for your child!

On being asked what a PTM is, the most common answer received is: We ask the teachers how our child is performing in class and school or the teachers tell us if our child is under performing/ misbehaving. Well, it entails much more!

What is a PTM?

It is a meeting between the parents and teachers of students to discuss a child’s (student’s) learning and progress and find solutions to academic or behavioural problems.

 The highlighted words in the above sentence are the crux. They form the core of a successful parent teacher meet.

 Remember-a PTM entails:

  • A two way exchange of meaningful information between the parents and the teachers to find child friendly solutions for your child’s apparent/non apparent difficulties.
  • Realizing that Teachers and Parents have a common goal- that of working towards the betterment of your child.
  • Remembering that: Performance, learning and progress are all different words with specific meanings attached to them .Performance will automatically be good if the learning and progress are taking place as they should. So a Focus shift from performance or result is required.

Having been on both sides of the fence for many long years ( been a teacher and a mother) has made me approach PTMs very carefully and believe me, it is no bed of roses for either-the teachers or the parents! Here below, I have some of my ideas put into words for you all – Parents of course, teachers can wait to read them in another forum.

Before the PTM

Talk to your child :

  • Ask what are the child’s weakest (even though you already know) and strongest subjects.
  • Also inquire if the child wants you to talk about something to his teacher(s).
  • Make sure that your child understands the purpose of your going to the PTM-that is to help the child and not to make or listen to complaints about him.

Prepare a list of NOTES :

Teachers have a whole list of tasks to be accomplished too, and in most schools have to meet a certain number of parents(which is altogether quite a lot) as per allotted time schedule. So keeping in mind the following, strikes just the right note and helps in the interaction progressing smoothly and meaningfully.

  • Make a list of things to be inquired and discussed. It will help you be specific during the meet.
  • Ask other care takers of the child for things to be discussed
  • Prepare a prioritized list of queries/questions .For example :

What is my child expected to learn this year/this quarter etc?

Does my child submit home assignments on time?

How are my child’s test taking skills?

Does my child participate in the goings on in the classroom?

How are his social skills?

Does he seem happy in school?

Have you noticed any unusual behavior?

Has my child missed any classes other than the excused ones?

Is my child reaching his potential?

What can we parents do at home to contribute to his success story? (Remember, any  positive improvement is a success. Success has to have a different meaning for each                child as per the child’s potential.)

Does my child require any special educator services-maybe a programme for the gifted / a programme for learning disabilities/ extra remedial coaching?

During the PTM

  • Be on time.
  • Dress up formally but, be yourself. It surely is neither a casual gathering nor a party, so over dressing is totally out.
  • Wait for your turn. Don’t hover impatiently.
  • Stay calm and well mannered .Communicate positively and respectfully without anger.
  • Listen carefully and ask for clarification if not clear.
  • Ask the most important questions early on, else time might not permit. If necessary request for another appointment.
  • Discuss differences of opinion firmly but respectfully with an open mind.

After the PTM

  •  Talk to your child about the PTM. Emphasize the positives and be direct about problems if any discussed. If an action plan has been formed or discussed, explain the part which the child should know. Let him understand it is for his betterment.
  • Start working on the action plan.
  • Keep in touch with the teacher. This way child also realizes his education is a priority, at school and at home.

The Don’ts

  • Never use the threat ‘We will tell your teacher/principal’ to check indiscipline or insufficient study time. It undermines your authority and makes your child see teachers and school as unpleasant symbols of authority with just the role of policemen!
  • Don’t let the meeting become ‘About the Teacher’. Many a time a teacher will want to make sure you understand the dynamics of the classroom from a teacher’s point of view. For example you can only know how your child describes an out of control classroom to you. Actually it might not be the case at all. The classroom might be witnessing some highly interactive activities. So listen to the teacher before reacting.

 The Dos

  • Go with an open mind. Neither pick up negative thoughts about a particular teacher from your child’s mind nor come back and fill similar negative thoughts in your child’s mind. Children might not lie but they see things from their limited, gainful to them perspectives, so your honest knowledge about your child and direct talk in school might present a different picture altogether.

Also, your negative talk about a teacher even if sometimes justified will make your child to never respect the teacher, leave alone learn from him.

View PTMs as added and very important opportunities to contribute to your child’s success. This combination of you who knows your child inside out and the teacher who is trained and has experience in addition to being your child’s observer at school, can work wonders if the partnership is of mutual trust.

So work on it and give your child the successful PTM advantage.

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