Saturday, 17 November 2012

How to survive parents evening and other tales.

This week has been a wrench. And the primary reason for this wrench is that lovely late night extravaganza of Parents' Evening. First of all, i have no idea why it is called Parent's evening. It is not their evening. It is my evening that they are destroying. Parents' evening is a difficult and distressing time for us all as teachers and so I would like to give my advice on surviving parents evening. 

1: accrue data this doesn’t mean generate data. This means go in prepared: CATS scores (or lies as I affectionately call them) SEN and G and T registers, levels, target grades and all of the other stuff that you can use to distract the parent from the fact that you don't have a clue who their child is....

2: Prepare your filler statements. There will be times when you have nothing to say. You need to have your go to statements to use to make yourself look like you aren't a/are less of a bumbling idiot. I suggest some of the following:
Teachers aren't meant to have favourites but....
The way teaching is moving is towards discussion based learning
It is too early to predict GCSE results but...
Do you have any questions for me?

3: Euphemisms avoid complaints and anger. Make sure you have slightly distracting/misleading/pleasant sounding ways of telling the parents how much you dislike their children and how badly they are doing. You can use these as lead in statements to more brutal comments like 'In my opinion her/his best hope is that they can find a benevolent pimp.' but this particular comment is highly inadvisable. Try some of the following:
We haven't yet established our positive learning environment.
[insert name] is still finding their place in the classroom.
I think we can put this behind us and turn a corner.
Sometimes they can be a little too keen. 
 I don't feel like they are embracing the learning style I advocate.

 4: Smoke and Mirrors. We have all been there. That hideous sinking moment when a child and their parent sits down in front of you and you swear to whichever deity takes your favour that you have never seen them before. They know it, You know it. You cannot remember their name and they could be any one of the four or five frankly anonymous children in the classroom. Those children that both complete all the work and fail to inspire you with their answers. The squeezed middle that never say anything in class but also give you no reason to say anything to them beyond the average random-name-generator-of-your-choice driven question. I find it happens once every PE. These are my sequential steps. 
Book appointments this never works but it just might pull off once in a while
have your sims open with photos. Then stall until you match up. This is potentially risky but can work. 
If these two fail you have to fall on my silver bullet solution. Quickly try and appear like you are trawling through a massive excel spreadsheet. Then complain about the length, telling the parents that you're just pulling up the data. At this point use some filler comment such as describing what the students are doing this term. Do not make eye contact. It will give you away. At this point, while trying to look exasperated, use this comment: 'I'm sorry about this, my spreadsheet is ordered by surname and yours has just slipped my mind. Can you remind me. I hate technology. This should get you out your tight spot. You could complain about government funding and how bad your laptop is at this point as well. At that point you can fill the rest of the meeting with comments about the data and then a courtesy comment about how their child is never a problem in class but could be a little more outspoken and then you are safe and free. 

Thank you all, And to all a good night.

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