As parents, nothing is more important than our children’s academic performance and wellbeing at school. And so at BCB, we understand that having those communication lines open between parents and teachers is crucial to the continued success of our students.
In Secondary school, Parent Teacher Conferences (PTC) happen three times a year. These meetings are a great opportunity for the subject teachers to share the academic progress made based on evidence collected from exams ( summative and formative), assignments, class engagement and general observations. It's also a great platform to discuss intervention strategies to support learning and perhaps even examine issues that may be interfering with the student reaching their full potential at school. Parents can inform teachers about their children's strengths and weaknesses, preferred learning styles or behaviours as well. Overall, a fantastic opportunity for both teachers and parents and definitely not to be missed!
As our first PTC of this academic year is just round the corner, here are some tips to ensure we have the most effective meetings.
Before the PTC’s
Talk with your child- Putting ownership of learning on your child is the best way to encourage accountability. Ask your child how they fared in their exams across all subject areas. If there’s anything particular your child would like to share.
Understand the reporting format- At secondary we report on two areas: the Attainment grade (ATT) and the Attitude to Learning (ATL). The ATT is based on criteria for each subject and is marked from 1-7. The ATL marks student’s engagement , preparedness, questioning, time management, organisation etc from 1-4.
Prepare a list of notes/ questions for the teacher- As the conferences are only upto 15 minutes, having a list of questions ready will enable using the time available for the meeting constructively. If you prefer, feel free to email the teacher your questions in advance.
Schedule promptly- Most importantly, book your appointment as soon as you receive the email as you stay mindful of the hours for PTC and teachers breaks. Keep an eye out for an email with schedule slots and instructions. Get your child to send google hangout invitations to their teachers.
Plan ahead - As teachers, it's important we review student data, check in with colleagues to see if there are patterns in learning or behaviors and make notes about what we’d like to ask parents in order to support their children better.
Be on time- It's crucial you are on time, so leave previous meetings a minute or 2 earlier so you can be on time. Ensure your camera and microphone are working well.
Communicate well- Have your child present incase you need support with translations. Ask the important questions first and listen respectfully to the teacher's response. They are experts ultimately! Do not shy away from asking questions or clarifications. Take notes if necessary
Create an action Plan- Collaborate with your child’s subject teacher to make a brief action plan for your child.
Start with positives- Always start PTC with an encouraging note about the child. This sets the ground for a positive interaction with the parents.
Be honest- Parents want to know the truth about their child and as the expert, it's important we share our concerns based on professional judgement honestly. The parents will appreciate it.
Ask questions- Don’t forget to ask simple questions like, “ Does your child enjoy ……(subject)? “ Why or why not?” This might enable us as teachers to have more insight into classroom teaching and learning.
Make an action plan- Provide resources/ personalized strategies for the child to follow at home or school. Short term plans are the best.
Follow up action plan- Discuss with your child the conference and plan ahead with a positive approach.
Stay engaged- Stay engaged with your child’s learning throughout the term by visiting each subject’s google classroom weekly, reading teacher feedback carefully and talking with your child. If there are concerns, email the subject teacher directly.
Keep a record - It’s important to maintain a record of the outcomes and any concerns that come up during the PTC to ensure effective resolution.
Enhance your teaching- Gaining more clarity on what the student needs are- classroom instruction and teaching pedagogy can be differentiated for different learners.
Follow up - Essential to follow up with students on their short term goals as decided in the meeting.
Parent teacher conferences are a great way to build and maintain respectful, positive and collaborative relationships with the school. As education is a shared commitment between parents and teachers - honest communication is the key.