Here we are, fast approaching the end of the first half term of the academic year and what an eventful one it has been! If your child has just started reception, like my middle child, your once vibrant 4 year old has suddenly started to understand the implications of “big school.” That daunting realisation that this is not a phase mummy is going through, this is forever! (well 12 years at least)
The children and parents are tired and irritable. The sparkling uniforms from September 5th are either rotting somewhere in the school’s lost property pile or scuffed/worn beyond recognition fast approaching their 6 week expiry date. Odds are your child has brought home a lovely case of head lice, a stomach bug or the type of cold which requires continual snot catching (or when at school – cuffing on school jumpers.) Even more likely, if you are feeling smug that they have escaped these ailments, they will come down with all 3 during the half term week. Brace yourself with anti bacterial wipes and tissue paper!
However before we embark on a week of sibling warfare, “I’m bored” and desperate coffee breaks/YouTube “Blippi” screen time, we have one more event left on the school planner…Parent’s Evening! The night I absolutely dreaded both back in my own time as a pupil and then on the other side of the desk as a teacher. This blog post is to expose Parent’s Evening and it all it entails and the secret language adopted by all teachers…
The Letter: The letter is sent out to all children detailing the times and dates available for appointments with your child’s class teacher. Appointments are usually 10 minute slots. The accuracy of these timings depend on the teacher; either the teacher is regimental and strict with the 10 minutes or, like myself, completely over runs because they just love talking.
Appointment Allocations: At the bottom of the letter there will be a slip to return with your specified date and time with an advisory that the teacher will try to keep to your chosen times as much as they can. This is a complete lie. Teachers liaise with the previous class teachers and decipher information on the parents e.g. amount of questions they ask, they note which appointments will be more tricky (difficult children/parents) and then set about creating a schedule which will give them the least stressful evening. For example I would never place one of my more tricky parents at the end of the evening, knowing it may overrun causing me to miss Eastenders!
Appointment Chat: The class teacher will welcome you warmly and begin their summary of your little darling. This chat would have already been carefully scripted by the teacher. Due to parents being super sensitive and easily offended where their children are concerned (rightly so I now realise as a mother) a secret bible of teacher phrases has been devised to deliver the right message about your child with minimum risk of endangering the teacher. Some examples of these are as follows:
- “A popular member of the class” – although popular, talks far too much to any other child within their orbit and distracts the class.
- “Such a laid back member of the class” – extremely lazy and never completes their work.
- “Full of energy and enthusiasm” – hyperactive and continually shouts out.
- “A pleasure to teach” – definitely teacher’s pet.
- “Has so much potential” – never ever completes their work/lazy
- “Lively” – annoying!
- “Helpful” – hands out all my books, collects them, takes the register, empties the recycle bin, cleans the white boards, has been known to mark books and take lessons I don’t enjoy/too hung-over to teach…
- “Great sense of humour” – has adopted the class clown role or “eejit” as my husband would describe.
- “I don’t know what to say, they are such a lovely boy/girl” – I haven’t a clue who your child is.
- “Excels in everything they do” – know it all!
Your Response: After the teacher has bamboozled you with statistics, test results and the above teaching jargon they will ask if there is anything you would like to add or ask. The teacher will wait, hopeful they have covered enough to not have to answer any further questions. Any subjects which do arise that seem slightly tricky will prompt the teacher to recommend an alternative appointment where you can “discuss in more detail.” Thus allowing the teacher more time to mentally prepare. However on a more serious note, always raise any questions or concerns you may have before parents evening. Don’t save them until that night any good teacher will be more than happy to speak to you about your concerns.
I hope you have enjoyed reading my Parent’s Evening post from my experiences as a teacher. I loved my time as a teacher and still think fondly about the pupils I taught. It makes me feel incredibly old when I realise that my first class will now be 21 years old making their own way in life. I hope that wherever they are and whoever they are now, they will always keep a little of our laughter with them and that I helped shape their future in even the smallest positive way.