OK, so you have survived the first week of back to school now it is time to make the ‘Meet the Teacher’ meeting a success.
This meeting is normal set up during the first few weeks of the school year and, as the name suggests, it is a time for you to meet the person your child will be working with during the following 40 weeks or so.
It is an important meeting. But it is easy to get wrong. It is easy to come away from the meeting wondering what it was all about, why you were there, and what good it did you or your child.
And that is a shame, because, properly handled, this meeting helps set up your relationship with your child’s teacher and provides you with an understanding of what your child will be doing during the year. So here is my guide to making the most of the ‘Meet the Teacher’ event that your school will be having.
Notice the title – it is MEET the teacher, not GRILL the teacher!
You are there to get to know each other, to put names to faces, to look at the classroom and to get a feel for the kind of situation your child will be in.
You are not there to ask detailed questions about child’s learning or about what work your child should be doing at home, you are there to lay the groundwork to an important relationship – the relationship between home and school.
Put a face to a name.
You would be surprised at how difficult it can be for a teacher to match a child to a parent. You might think that your child looks exactly like you but the teacher might not see the resemblance. I have known – and I have been guilty of doing this myself – teachers go through a whole parent meeting and have no idea which child they are talking about. This is especially true in High School where teachers meet hundreds of students and can find it very difficult to put a face to a name.
Take a recent photograph of your child with you when you go to this meeting. Hold it in your hand as you talk to the teacher. That way you can be sure that she is talking about YOUR child!
Be on time
I know, this can be difficult but teachers have many parents to talk to and won’t be able to wait if you are not there when you are expected to be there. If you can’t make it, phone the school and leave a message. You may even ask for another time to meet the teacher.
Ask about expectations around homework.
This is a biggie and getting this information can save you a whole lot of heartache later in the year. Does the teacher give homework? How much homework does she expect a child to do each night? What kind of homework will your child be getting? If your child is expected to do project work how are you exceed to help? What happens if homework is not handed in on time? Will homework grades count for the final grades? and, most importantly, Can you contact the teacher if you have concerns about your child and homework?
This leads into the next item on your agenda…
Confirm contact details.
The school office will have details of your address and phone number but you might also want the teacher to let you know if your child is having difficulty in class. Tell the teacher that you would be happy to have this information and give her your phone number or another way she can contact you.
By doing this you have opened the door to the communication process and invited the teacher to step in and help you help your child.
If these details change make sure the teacher knows about the changes.
Ask what your commitment to your child’s education should be.
Does the teacher want you to help with homework? Check homework? Report problems? Provide extra support? or is he happy to let you decide what to do? Perhaps you are expected to read with your child every night, or help him or her learn spellings for a test, or provide materials for project work. You need to know.
Let the teacher know what you think her commitment should be.
Ask her to keep you informed about your child’s progress. Report cards are not the best way to make this happen – perhaps she sends out monthly newsletters? Remind the teacher that you will always be happy yo hear from her and that if there are any problems in class you want to be the first to know about them.
Then say ‘Thanks, nice to meet you!” and leave.
This is a lot to get through in the few minutes you will have to meet your child’s new teacher but if you approach these meetings with an agenda in mind you will get the information you need and the teacher will be grateful that you are using the time well.
Teachers can be scary but we are not all the ‘creatures’ some of you think we are!