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Meeting the parents

What does a pirate's chest have to do with a parents' afternoon? Valerie Stoddart explains.

Primary Teacher, Aboyne Primary School, Aberdeenshire

 

Talk about being thrown in at the deep end. I was filled with trepidation when the new headteacher announced that she intended to carry on with the parents open afternoons in the school, a mere two weeks into my first term as a probationer.

Preparing for the parents

Although I was naively under the impression that I had a little longer before things like parents' nights began, I decided that if I could stand up in front of 28 nine year olds on a daily basis then meeting the parents was bound to be a piece of cake! 

What I forgot about was the fact that they would be sizing me up and seeing was I going to be good enough for their "wee angel".

For moral support, I invited my 0.3 teacher to sit in and told her to feel free to join in at any time. I also decided that it would look more professional if I had a set of notes to refer to so that I didn't forget any important information.

The noise in the classroom was almost deafening. I resorted to shouting "3, 2, 1..." and I got absolute silence. I praised the children on how well they had trained their parents. Several parents smiled and this helped to break the ice.

The children were then taken off to the hall for some singing and games for half an hour and my interview began.

Pirate's chest

Within minutes I felt surprisingly relaxed and in full flow, sharing all the school housekeeping with the parents. Then it happened: my first faux pas. I announced that I would show them "my chest".

The room erupted as I held my hands up and apologised, saying that I would dig myself in deeper if I continued. I had actually been talking about my red pirate's chest where I keep my glove puppets!

Then a parent asked about my Talking Boxes. I encourage the children to fill these with things they wish to share with the rest of the class. They're then given centre stage as we share and listen to their news. Even the shyest child in the class has been desperate to get a turn.

I then proceeded to turn around and announce, as I bent over to pick up my pirate's chest, that I would show them "my big chest". Again, I was mortified!

Feedback

Luckily, the headteacher was quick to come in after they had all gone and said a number of parents had commented that I "had done really well and seemed very nice".

The next week another parent told me that she had gone rushing off home to tell her husband the story and said to him that I had a nice sense of humour and she felt their daughter was going to have a good year.

So all's well that ends well.

Going forward

It will be extremely interesting to see how the parents feel towards me as the year progresses as this was my first experience of meeting with them.

I hope that I will be able to build up positive relationships with them all over the coming months, as I have done with the children, and that they in turn will feel comfortable that they can come in to discuss their child's development with me.

Just don't forget your sense of humour this year as a probationer,  you'll need it!