I I had my first Parent teacher meeting (PTM) yesterday and I was scared. I was scared of telling the parents something they didn’t want to hear about their child. I have never been on the teacher side of the desk before, my experience of PTM’s were in Primary and secondary school where my mum would drag me along to speak to my teachers about my progress. I was a goody-two-shoes in school so it was all good news and praises for my part and my parents were very happy with this. They didn’t need to worry about what the teachers might say about my progress or my work because it was alway good or great in some teacher’s eyes. So when I saw on my schedule that I had one coming up I was scared. I had a meeting with my DOS about the PTM and here’s what he told me:
1. Write your progress reports.
These little reports may be tedious to fill out but they offer the basis for your students progress in your class. The four skills (reading, writing, speaking and listening) are all there with percentages for you. So just in case you forget exactly how this student is doing in your class it’s there for you. You have to write a simple four sentences (one for each skill) and then an action plan stating what you and the parents will do to help the student improve further. These progress reports will help you with what to tell each parent. Remember to send them to your DOS for approval or you can’t print them.
2. Talk to your PA.
Your PA may already have a great relationship with the parents and they’ll know what the parent really wants to hear. Also if this is your first PTM the PA will help you with what they have already told the parents with regards to the students progress. Also the PA can help translate to the parents during the PTM so if you’re both in agreement about the students can’s and cant’s then you’ll both be in agreement for the action plan making the translation go smoother.
3. Prepare everything the night before.
So I am normally well organised but the night before was a training day in another centre and my DOS was on annual leave so he couldn’t approve the progress reports until later that night. Meaning I couldn’t print them off until the morning of my PTM. My PTM was at 9.30am and our office hours are 9am, so I came in early to print them off meaning that we only just made it. It was a bit of a rush printing off two copies of them (one for the parent, the other for our records). Our back up plan was to show the parent the progress report on the computer. But we need not use it. Remember to print from your PA’s computer because it will print it off in Chinese and English meaning the parents can understand everything regardless of their English ability.
4. Listen to the parents.
Even though you get to know your students in the class and see them learning, the parents might not see the same side to them. A students may not be confident in your class but when they get home they will be able to shout the words in English to anyone who will listen. The parents will let you know if what you’re saying is what they see. It’s good to write this down because it will give you an insight into that particular students thought and learning process. This might mean that you have to change your action plan a bit or a lot to suit this but the parent will feel like you are trying to co-operate with them and their interests for their child, meaning that your relationship will grow. Also write it down, the parent will think they’re actually being listened to and cared for making them feel at ease and you look professional.
5. Listen to the EFers podcast.
Finally my DOS told me to listen to the podcast he makes. I thought he was just plugging it for more recognition but there is an episode about PTMs and it’s really useful. They go through the 6 stages of PTMs in detail and even role play a short PTM so you get an idea. It made it seem easy.
When you’re sitting in the class room or the consulting room with all the bits of papers and assessments for your students you feel important and nervous, at least I did. Two hours of talking about my students to their parents? It seems like a long time but it’s not. Once you start talking the time flies by. Once you have done the first three, you’ll find you get into a routine, it’s basically the same spiel except you change a few words here and there. And lot’s of parents are happy to let you do the talking and they don’t really argue with you about their child, for the most part they agree with everything, and occasionally you get a parent helping you with what your action plan should be which is normally along the same line as you.
They aren’t that scary, and there is no need to sugar coat anything, a lot of parents appreciate your honest because you have the action plan. Once you’ve delivered ‘bad news’ once or twice you won’t fear it. I hope these tips are helpful to any of you away to do a PTM. If you have done one and have anything to add then post a comment below.
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