While no-one considers teaching children a breeze, often one of the most stressful times of year isn’t kid-centric at all.
Instead, it’s the times when you have to interact directly with the parents of your students that can be a real cause of stress – especially if you’re not prepared ahead of time.
Parent-teacher nights can mean a lot of things, including:
- The first time the parents meet their student’s future teacher
- The opportunity to go over grades, development and any concern with parents
- The chance to get to know your students a little better outside the classroom
- The perfect venue to show off just what your students have achieved over the year
With so much pressure from parents to provide their students with sufficient education, it’s no wonder that teachers need a little guidance to offer the best parent-teacher night possible. These tips might give you a bit more insight to help get you through the night, and even have a good time at the end of the day, despite it all.
The first stage to creating any successful event is getting on top of the organization, and parent-teacher night is no exception to that rule. Choosing to get organized before the event start can not only help you to run the evening smoother but also offer a little breathing room should extra time be needed with particular parents or for specific activities. The Lettered Classroom suggests creating a clear parent checklist to help parents make their way from point to point during the event, ensuring they meet everyone they need to and can get everything done during the night. But the organization doesn’t stop there – there’s plenty more to do to ensure that your night is successful.
Creating number charts can be another excellent way to prevent problems before they happen, offering clear navigation and guidance for students and their parents. Organizing your paperwork, including reports, homework books and anything else you may need, can also help to streamline the process, and offer more time to sit back and chat with the parents instead of scrambling to find the correct information. Organization is key to making your parent-teacher night a success, so don’t leave everything up until the last minute.
While the main point of parent-teacher nights is to offer parents insight into how their child is doing and getting to know students a little better, adding a little fun into the mix can be the ideal way to encourage parents to get involved. Consider offering parents something to do while they’re waiting, whether its drinks and snacks for mingling or even a giving tree or a display of students’ artwork, where they can pick out the creations of their children and their friends.
Often, it just isn’t possible for families to leave siblings or other children at home while they attend a parent-teacher evening, so offering some age-appropriate toys and a suitable area for other children, both younger and older, to be entertained in is another thoughtful addition to your evening. Similarly, students will quickly get bored if they’re waiting around to talk to you. Offering activities, a drawing station or a comfortable sitting area with books can help stave off any frustrations, especially for elementary-age students.
Being approachable, sociable and friendly are all vital skills for a teacher, and doubly, so when it comes to interacting with parents. Instead of sitting behind a desk or table waiting for parents to come to you, take breaks to get up and have a chat with parents and students, breaking down that wall between you and them. Often, you can pick up on far more from parents through casual chatting over drinks or snacks than you can be sat opposite from them, where the situation feels far more formal.
In fact, for some schools, getting rid of the behind-the-desk aspect of parent-teacher nights can be an excellent way to level the playing field, allowing for more free communication and comfort all-around. Of course, it’s essential to also ensure you’re not just focusing on the negatives while speaking to parents as well – be enthusiastic about their child’s accomplishments, let go of the teacher jargon and ensure they know the areas they’re doing well in as well as those that need improvement.
With these tips, the next parent-teacher night doesn’t have to be stressful. Prepare, be friendly, and provide entertainment – that’s all there is to it.