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Preparing for parents' evening

Beth Uprichard reflects on a busy week preparing for her first parents' evening.

Primary Teacher, Tannochside Primary School, North Lanarkshire

When beginning this piece, "A week in the life of a probationer", I thought that the challenge was a bit of an oxymoron: for starters, what life?

And, secondly, the things we fit into one working week surely constitute two or three weeks' worth of work. That said, I thought it might be helpful for you and therapeutic for me to share the trials, tribulations, tears and terrors of my probationer year.

This week, week 12 of my teaching career, I undertook a right of passage as a teacher: my first parents' evening. As ever pure, unadulterated fear turned this normally rational person into an obsessive maniac.

Preparation countdown

The preparation went something like this:

  • Two weeks before: go through jotters, make notes. Despite recording assessments since week two, I suddenly act like I haven't a clue what my children were up to!
  • One week before: spoke to my mentor about how a parents' night operates just in case there is some huge ritual I was unaware of and would be expected to perform.
  • The day before: stay in school until six o'clock tidying my class including cleaning behind the computer. Obviously dust behind the computer means I am a terrible teacher!
  • The night before: go through my perfectly typed notes adding in extras, re-wording, re-phrasing and driving my partner to distraction.

I can't sleep as I'm planning speeches in my head: "Your child is a delight, could work a bit harder, finds it difficult to concentrate after lunch"

The big event

Finally, it has arrived. I manage to keep my class tidy by making full use of noisy quiet rooms, pitch time and the audio-visual suite and subtle threats to the children that if they make a mess I will tell their parent - evil but it worked!

Then it started: a steady stream of bewildered looking parents and pale-faced, terrified-looking children. Could it be that they were as nervous as I was?

As the appointments rolled on and I performed my well-rehearsed feedback about each child, I realised that most parents were relieved to hear that their child was progressing and was happy.

Surely it's supposed to be worse than this? Shouldn't there be tricky questions about the nature and delivery of the curriculum? What was I doing to promote inclusion and how did my lesson on angles fit in with the government's national priorities?

Reflection

As the last parent left my class and I debriefed with my mentor, I realised that actually this wasn't an exam and the parents aren't monsters who think I'm destroying their children but are, in fact, strange as it may seem, simply people who want their children to do well, progress and be happy.

Exhausted but contented I went home to reflect on the evening and yes by reflect I mean open a bottle of wine and get some sleep! Reflection will be done on a Friday afternoon during my 0.3!