This week, the Hammer (aka Mrs. F) was patrolling outside the classroom door with a clipboard which to me means business. She told us that we needed to sign up for the Parent Teacher Conference. I have no idea why the school just springs this on you without any advance warning. All of sudden, you are faced with picking a time with no regard to what you could possibly have on your calendar. Luckily, I did not have any appointments that day.
Given that in years past, I have been so overwhelmed by work, I have just showed up and let the feedback flow and rarely asked questions. Sounds like I am uncaring but so untrue, there weren't any huge gaps so I did not think it was necessary to really probe. So this year instead of just showing up and listening, I thought I would be more prepared. Let's face it, this first grade no more silly stuff. So here are my thoughts on my upcoming meeting the Hammer.
- Be Prepared with Questions - the first year, I did not show with any questions. Of course, by the time I thought of any good questions, time was up.
1. How is my daughter focusing in class? What do you do to get her to focus? This has been an issue since pre-school but thought by first grade, she would grow out it.
2. Does she participate and answer questions? Again, she has a tendency to say I don't know a lot when asked questions when I know she knows the answer.
3. Is she reluctant to answer/participate when it comes to Math? She has said more than once, " I am not good at Math." Based on what, I have no idea.
- Listen before asking questions/interrupting - We all want to hear nothing but little Johnny is a genius but not open to other feedback. This goes a long way to building rapport and a relationship. I have a tendency to be somewhat defensive, peppering the teacher with comments thus throwing off the flow of the meeting. Again because I was unprepared.
- Positive and develpment areas should both be covered in the meeting. Last year, her teachers started out the meeting with "we just love your daughter". I was skeptical and responded "I am sure you say that to everyone." "Nooo, we don't say it to every family." So, of course I loved hearing that but they were also pretty specific about how she was doing and what areas needed improvement. Truly fair and balanced feedback. In pre-school, I never heard about development areas just all positive which looking back, I should have pushed more and would have served her well going into kindergarten.
- Schedule a Follow Up Meeting, if necessary - If you don't get all your questions answered or feedback clarified in your 10-15 minute meeting, don't hesitate to set up another meeting. I wish I had done this in kindergarten just get clarification on how/what they were doing to help her work on focusing in class. This would have helped her going into first grade.
While I dread the meeting, it is a necessary part of the developmental process for my child. You can't help them grow if you have no idea how to nurture their strengths and improve their weaknesses.
So hopefully, this year, I will be more prepared and be a little more aggressive but in a nice way.
Would love to hear from readers how they prepare for the Parent/Teacher conference.