We just had two parents’ evenings in the space of eight days. They are one of the most valuable things that teachers can do. All teachers should have an explicit goal: do them well.
I’ve always enjoyed them. I like being able to put faces to names. I like talking to parents about what their children have been doing with their time, how they are making progress, how they can continue to do so. I suspect they appreciate it, I know I do. When I ask my own children about what they are learning at their own school (or I slip in one of the indirect questions intended to elicit a response, I’ve learned through experience to vary my questioning!) I’m often met with a shrug, or a tale so convoluted that it’s hard to get a handle on exactly how they are progressing. Not that it matters too much as I trust their teachers. Why? Well, for one reason, because I go to parents’ evenings.
And that’s the beauty of parents’ evenings. We get to know each other. Schools have always been in the business of people. If they’re not, they should be. People matter. Children matter. Nothing says this more powerfully than taking the time to sit down with parents and talk to them about their children. Tell them about progress and targets, sure. But also talk about what makes them a unique part of your classroom. Tell parents about the joke you’ve shared with their child, the book that they’ve recommended, the way that they always say thanks when you hand them their work. If your students don’t do those things… ask yourself why. And then promise yourself that you will make room for those conversations on your next parents’ evening. I promise you that, if you go beyond the usual chat about targets and grades, you’ll see far more clearly why we do what we do; and of course, you’ll see just why parents’ evenings are so valuable.
Do them well.