Friday, 6 March 2015

Meet the Parents

Recently, I had my first 'meet the teacher' evening at school. I was rather surprised that, as a graduate teacher I was not briefed on what to expect and left much to my own devices to feel my way through the evening. Each parent was only assigned ten minutes to discuss their child so I figured it couldn't be too bad and was happy to just 'go with the flow'.

For the benefit of any new teachers out there I can say that it is vital that your
first interview arrives on time. Mine did not, so, straight off the bat I was running 5 minutes behind. By the time meal break came along I was about 30 minutes behind schedule. Thankfully I had 10 minutes to spare to scoff down my meal and get back in to it and the rest of the evening ran to schedule.

I was told to just let parents know that the purpose of the meeting was to see if they could tell me anything about their child that I might need to know for the purposes of their education. Seems like a pretty good way to get a conversation going right? Well, in a lot of cases it was; others, not so. I found that some parents really didn't want to say much and as a result I ended up doing most of the talking. By the end of the 5 hours, my throat was very sore and my voice raspy. Reflecting on this now, I really should have done more to encourage the parents or students to lead the conversation. Next time around I will at least know what to expect so that I can better prepare for this. In fact, next time, I will brief the students in class prior so that they can prepare things to discuss with their parents rather than me doing all the work.

The one other thing that was a first for me was dealing with an interpreter. I work in a school that is very culturally diverse and found that with a number of interviews I would require one. I think overall I needed 5 but due to my schedule running behind I ended up only having an interpreter at 2 appointments. Working with an interpreter was a great experience and I am so thankful for it. It really opened the communication lines between the parents and I with greater opportunity to work towards the same goal of helping their child learn.

I have heard of horror stories where family members bring an English speaking friend or relative and there is no trained interpreter present. This can cause problems where the relative does not translate properly or they can become emotional when they misinterpret. My advice for any teacher is to always use a trained interpreter. Families can still of course bring an English speaking relative as support but there is less likelihood of misinterpretation when you have a trained interpreter on hand. The interpreter also always remains neutral too which is great for both parties.

So, that was my first experience with 'meet the teacher' interviews. The reflection process is important for me and I use it in a way that I am able to talk about how I might do things different in the future. Hopefully, other new teachers read this and they are able to learn from my experience too. 

No comments:

Post a Comment