So my three late nights went well – parents evening was particularly enjoyable. I always start off dreading them and especially when I have to try to give positive news to the parents of the pupils in the lowest attaining Maths group in Year 9!
Around half-way through once I’d realised that even the parents of the naughtiest kids were on my side. I always try to concentrate on the work and only include behaviour when it’s really a problem (i.e. if it’s seriously disrupting their learning or the education of others).
Apparently being taught by an experienced teacher is having a positive effect on this group. I have some problems managing their behaviour, they are a challenge, but the lessons eventually go the way I want them to. Several parents told me that things were much better this year than they have been in the last couple of years.
I can’t help letting my natural persona spill over into the classroom. You’ve probably noticed I’ve a strong sense of humour – luckily this seems to work with most teenagers, I always worry about teachers who don’t seem to have a sense of humour (or any other personality traits). Many parents commented that their child was suddenly starting to enjoy Maths since I’d become their teacher. I don’t’ think it’s because of my teaching techniques per se but more about the way I treat them. A few talked specifically about the an confidence and I think that’s because I won’t let anybody get away with ‘acting dumb’.
I end the meeting with something like a mini-contract. In addition to following our policy of shaking hands with the parents I also shake hands with the pupils; I make sure they know our handshake is about sealing a deal – usually it’s about ‘putting your hand up before speaking’ or ‘volunteering for more answers’ or ‘showing full working’.
It was particularly satisfying to have Saffron, our somewhat indifferent trainee teacher, observing. This is the most challenging class that she’s working with and I think she’d decided that because they’re not perfectly behaved I’m a bad teacher. Even after fifteen years of teaching it still gives me a confidence boost hearing that I’m giving my pupils a confidence boost.
I have to be careful though– it’s Year 10 parents evening next week and pride comes before a fall!