Many parents come away from parent-teacher meetings feeling they did not gain much. On the other hand, teachers wish parents would ask meaningful questions. How can we bridge this gap? Read on...
By Team ParentCircle
Parents and teachers play a vital role in every child’s life. What they say and do has a tremendous impact not only on the child’s growth and overall development, but also on her behaviour and confidence. When parents and teachers understand and support each other, it is the child who benefits the most. Therefore, the parent–teacher (PT) partnership must be built with care, and based on trust and open communication.
PT meetings lay the foundation for a trustworthy between parents and teachers. In this special story, we take a 360-degree approach to discuss this very important topic.
We talk to parents and teachers from various schools to understand what they feel about PT meetings and their takeaways. Here’s what they have to say:
On analysing these responses, the expectations of parents and teachers seem similar but, unfortunately, the outcomes are miles apart. So, how can we bridge this gap? Anjali's story might teach us something.
Anjali got into the sixth standard just three months ago. From day one, she has been struggling in maths and social studies. The poor grades on her report card reflect her struggles. She is scared to approach her new teacher for help as she views her as being too strict and unfriendly. Her parents are extremely busy with their full-time jobs. They are also busy taking care of Anjali’s grandma who was hospitalised for treatment of pneumonia. They’ve not had the time to see her report card. But now, they are scheduled to meet her teacher for the first time, for just 15 minutes, during the first PT meeting of the year.
When Anjali’s parents meet her teacher, they start talking about their busy lives and how their daughter is very accommodating. Then, they talk about the teacher’s family and how she likes her new class and so on. Before they realise, 10 minutes have gone. In the next five minutes, the teacher quickly tells them that Anjali is actually a very smart girl. But, like many of her classmates, she seems a bit distracted. She has not been turning in her homework on time. The teacher asserts that she would like to see Anjali work harder. Anjali’s parents are shocked and upset. They come home and scold Anjali for not turning in her homework and not studying hard. Anjali feels disheartened and is unsure what to do next.
As you can see, Anjali’s parents missed a wonderful chance to get Anjali the help she needed. And, they are not alone. There are many parents who fail to make the best use of the all-important PT meeting.
A PT meeting is an opportunity for you to join hands with your child’s teacher to support, motivate and bring out the best in your child. Find out how you can prepare and ensure every minute of your time with your child’s teacher counts. Here are simple steps to guide you in the process.
Before you meet the teacher
During the PT meet
After meeting the teacher
What if Anjali’s parents had seen her progress report and talked to her before the meeting? They would have known her struggles with maths and social studies, and also her concerns about the teacher. Then, during the meeting, they could have specifically discussed with the teacher Anjali’s difficulty in these two subjects. They could have come up with a plan on how to help her. They could have requested the teacher to reach out to Anjali to make her feel comfortable, as Anjali was scared and hesitant to talk to the teacher.
After the meeting, when her parents find out that Anjali had not been turning in her homework on time, instead of yelling at her, they could have calmly said, “Anjali, we are disappointed that you have not been turning in your homework on time. Can you tell us why this has been happening? Is it because you are finding the work difficult? Or you just don’t care? Whatever the reason, we need to work out a plan so it doesn't happen again. Your teacher will alert us every week if you have missed any homework. We expect you to become more responsible with your work.” Now, Anjali knows her parents really care about her performance at school. Their expectations and positive support motivates her to get the necessary help to do well in school.
Remember, both you and your child’s teacher have a shared goal - your child should do well in school. The parent-teacher meeting is an opportunity for you and the teacher to exchange information on your child’s talents and needs. It sets the stage for you to build a strong partnership of support and trust that will guide your child towards success.
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