Parent teacher interviews can often be a time of extreme stress for teachers and parents. Teachers are often concerned about what they will say to parents, how they will say it and how parents will respond. Parents often dread hearing news from teachers that their children are not perforning well or about a myriad of other problems linked to their children. Parent-teacher interviews are short (usually 15 minutes) and can leave both teachers and parents feeling a little stressed.
To support teachers and parents, one way around the traditional ” how is my child doing?, why are their marks low?, and they aren’t like this at home” interview is to plan and structure the conversation around the learning beliefs and practices of the school.
For example, one of the main focus areas over the past year in our school has been goal setting. We have adopted goal setting as an effective learning strategy based on research. With the shift over the past several years to including formative assessment, student goal setting has been found to be highly effective in supporting students in academic achievement. In his book Visible Learning (p. 164) John Hattie summarizes that the right kind of student goal setting can have a positive affect on student learning;
“… goals inform individuals as to what type or level of performance is to be attained so that they can direct and evaluate their actions and efforts accordingly.” pp.164
Student goal setting works best when the parent, the teacher and the student work together to develop goals. Thought is given as to:
- where the student is currently functioning;
- what level of achievement would challenge the student;
- who would support the student in what way;
- when progress toward the goal would be tracked or monitored.
As Goal Setting has been a significant part of our daily work, structuring our parent teacher interview around goal setting seemed a perfect fit.
Together, with the amazing staff and collegiality at Erin Woods School, our discussions around using parent teacher interviews to support our work on student goals developed. We created a protocol for the interview, for teachers to follow, to focus the interview around the critical essence of our goal setting focus.
Parent / Teacher Interview
Purpose: The purpose of this Parent Teacher interview is to look at the term ahead and consider goals and areas of growth for the student. Additionally, teachers and parents will define and articulate their planto support the learner.
Right now in IRIS you have set the goal of :
How are you doing with that goal?
What is helping you to achieve that goal?
Are you still working on that goal or should we adjust or change it in any way?
TYPE NEW GOAL IN IRIS
How can parents help you?
How can teachers help you?
How can you help yourself?
RC OR IPP
I have also identified this area of growth for you (on your report card or IPP):
I will be helping you by:
What ways will you be working on this goal?
With a structured conversation for the Parent Teacher Interview the following results are expected:
- Teachers can plan and prepare for the conversation based on the purpose and the outline;
- Students can be prepared to share the necessary information with their parents (no surprises);
- Parents become partners in our work, rather than stand bys who we report to causing everyone to be focussing on our beliefs and direction;
- In this particular protcol, the focus is forward looking, “here is what your child will be doing and here is how I will help.” Leaving parents with a sense of hope and achievement for the next term.
- We have clear documentation of each parent teacher interview.
With this process, we are noticing teachers looking forward to their parent interviews, There is no ambiguity or surprises, thus leaving teachers confident and prepared, and parents hopeful and happy with things to come.