to Hold Parent Meetings
primary focus of my next series of articles will be on how to work
with students’ families. It is my intention to show you how
you can educate the parents as to the manner in which you are educating
their children, and show them how they can help. Parent Teacher
Conferences don’t really afford you the time necessary to
convey what you need to explain so you should really plan to hold
another meeting. There are certain logistical matters which need
to be attended to before you actually meet with your parents.
you need to get the approval of your supervisor. It is a good idea
to get approval in writing so you might want to present your request,
with all the pertinent information, in the form of a memo.
You need to ask yourself a few questions. Why are you holding
the meeting in the first place? Are you providing parents with basic
information which will help them navigate their child’s school
year? Are you trying to teach the parents a particular skill or
strategy which they can use with their child? Your purpose should
be simple, concise, and well-defined. You want to encourage parental
involvement which includes questioning and discussion. It is better
to have a few meetings over a period of time, each focused on one
topic instead of one meeting with a litany of topics. The latter
may serve only to overwhelm the parents. Sometimes less is more.
need to determine who will be included in the meeting. Are you conducting
the meeting alone or with a colleague? Are people presenting from
the same grade and have a common focus? Are you going to provide
specific instruction on a particular topic (for example, how to
help children use a reading strategy)?
purpose can determine the setting. If you require the parents to
conduct some activity you might need a large uncluttered space.
If you want the parents to better understand their child’s
daily experience then you might want a smaller, informal setting,
like a classroom. Again, you need to consider who is involved and
how many people you expect to attend. There is a big difference
between cozy and claustrophobic and sometimes one person can make
Will the meeting be held during the school day or in the
evening? You might want to hold two duplicate meetings, one in the
daytime and one at night, in order to accommodate varying work schedules.
If you are holding the meeting during your preparation period then
you had better make contingency plans for coverage in case you lose
your prep that day.
Make sure the parents are given ample notification of the
upcoming meeting. They may need to make baby-sitting arrangements
or change plans. Advance notice is the courteous thing to do.
to look at your student population and then beyond that, to their
parents. Do any of them require a translation into another language?
If the answer is ‘only one’ then that ‘one’
is more than enough to oblige you to provide that translation. This
can be in the form of a fellow teacher or a parent. Also make sure
that any handouts which will be distributed are also translated.
is a good idea to have a numbered sign-in sheet for the parents.
You could request that they included their child’s name. This
will easily tell you how many parents attended and from which class.
You can also learn an awful lot about the kind of support a child
may be receiving at home by how much of an attempt the parents make
to attend meetings.
is not a necessity but it is a nicety. I usually wrap up about three
new books. I have a plastic bag with small pieces of paper, numbered
to coincide with my sign-in sheet. I pull a number from a bag and
then give the parent who signed in next to that number “A
gift for your son/daughter to thank you for coming.” You would
be surprised how much this gesture means to parents and it can go
a long way to creating a partnership conducive for the students’
success. Ultimately, that is the purpose of any parent meeting you