Trinity is a community-minded school and we place great importance on developing and maintaining strong and respectful relationships between our staff and students and their parents. When everybody is working together in the best interests of the students, they are far more likely to reap academic and social benefits.
One way to show both teachers and your child that you value their education and are interested in how they are travelling at school, is by attending ‘parent-teacher interviews.’ These sessions are an ideal opportunity to discover more about your child’s academic, emotional and social progress, and to share information about your child with his or her teachers. Even if you don’t have any concerns about your child’s progress at school, it is really still worth going along to them as they provide deeper insight than a school report can provide about their strengths and interests, areas where they could improve and what you can do to help them achieve their full potential. Teenagers especially don’t always talk openly about what’s happening at school. Teachers are in a great position to watch how your child is developing and learning and interacting with peers. The interviews are also an opportunity to get to know your child’s teachers, help them understand more about your child and build connections with the college.
There are a couple of things you can do to maximise the opportunity and get the most out of the discussions:
You only have a limited amount of time with each teacher so it’s best to be prepared in advance, and whilst you may not need to see every single teacher, don’t limit your discussions to subjects that you believe are more important, such as Math or English. Instead, take a lead from their school report, and ask your child about who they’d like you to see.
Familiarise yourself with any previous communication from teachers, such as reports or notes. This will help to prevent any surprises at the discussion and allow you to get the most from the time that you have.
Before the day, ask your child how they believe things are going at school and whether they have any concerns they’d like you to raise. Afterwards, report back about what you discovered.
How to talk to teachers
It’s natural that some parents will be anxious about discussing their child’s progress with teachers, especially if there are sensitive issues to consider but rest assured that teachers may also be nervous about talking to parents, especially if they need to raise concerns.
Being open, friendly and sensitive in the way you communicate can help to alleviate that stress and help to ensure a positive experience.
Listening attentively and not interrupting what the teacher is saying shows that you respect their expertise and opinion. Even if you don’t agree with what they are saying, try not to jump in defensively.
Our teachers will give you the opportunity to respond or raise any concerns. Don’t be afraid to be direct or ask for clarification if you don’t understand something. For example, you could ask the teacher for examples that help to illustrate an issue that your child is having.
When voicing your concerns, try to be specific and avoid blaming anyone. If you have a problem, coming with potential solutions can be helpful. Remember that you and your child’s teachers want the same things – for your child to achieve their potential, meet their learning goals and have a good year at school. The parent-teacher ‘interview’ is about discussing your shared desire for your child’s success, and an opportunity to make plans together towards that goal. At Trinity, we view parents as partners in the education of children.
Know what to ask
Having a list of questions prepared ahead of time will help to ensure that you don’t forget anything important at the parent-teacher discussion.
The time with teachers tends to pass quickly, so consider what is most important to discuss and bring that up first.
Here’s some possible questions you might want to ask:
- How is my child progressing compared to what is expected?
- What do you think their strengths and interests are?
- Is there anything specific they are struggling with?
- What are the best things I can do at home to help them?
- How much homework should they be doing?
- What can you tell me about my child’s classroom behaviour and participation?
- How are they getting along with their classmates?
- What support services does the school offer and how do we access them?
- What’s the best way to contact you if I have any concerns?
You are likely going to be seeing a couple of teachers about a range of subjects and it is easy to forget who said what. Consider bringing a notebook and pen along with you to take down key points which may be useful later for discussion at home.
Manage your time well
The interviews are only 10 minutes and are scheduled back-to-back each so make sure you arrive on time. If you are even 5 minutes late, it will have a knock on effect on subsequent interviews. If you run out of time, you can always arrange another appointment to discuss any issues in greater depth. Please also remember to turn off your phone.
Listen for common themes
If the same concerns are coming up with different teachers, you might want to make an appointment with the Head of Year to help your child so we can offer a united approach.