When I think of interviews, I think of going for a job, dressing up in a suit and tie and quickly having to think on my feet. I don’t know about you, but in such circumstances I am never at my best! I always come away thinking about all the things I should have said, and the way I should have said them better.
Preparing for parent-teacher interviews
Over the next two weeks, parents will have the opportunity to attend parent-teacher interviews. At Illawarra Christian School our parent-teacher interviews should be nothing like the experience of going for a job interview!
We want our parent-teacher interviews to be learning conversations where two highly invested parties (the staff and the parents) work together, to ensure that the student concerned is learning and progressing as they should. Of course, our teachers are working hard to prepare for these interviews—but it may come as a surprise to hear that as a parent, you’ll get more out of them if you do some preparation too.
So, as a parent, how can you best prepare for interviews?
1. Turn up on time
Firstly, show up and be on time. Each interview is only ten minutes! Usually a line of people will be following you with interviews of their own, so being on time and ready to go means that you get the maximum time available to speak with each teacher. Please keep to the time permitted and come with a print out of your appointments for the evening.
2. Don’t outsource to your partner!
It’s always best if both parents can attend the interview. Not only does this demonstrate commitment to your child’s learning, but it also means you both have opportunities to hear feedback and ask questions. What’s more, after the interview, both parents will be better equipped to discuss strategies that may need to be implemented at home—with the full picture of what is going on at school in mind.
3. Bring your child’s report and a list of questions too
I recommend that you have fully read your child’s report before you attend—and bring the report with you. It is always helpful to have thought of questions you might like to ask the teacher in light of the specific feedback they have given in the report. In the moment, it can be difficult to think of questions, so write them down and bring them with you. Don’t make the list too long! Be realistic about what you can cover in the time frame and pick out the key areas you want to address so they aren’t left till last and rushed. If you have a concern, come prepared to share this with the teacher, but also be willing to hear the teacher’s perspective and have an open mind. Remember the teachers have your child’s best interest at heart too.
4. Make a plan of what to do next
It is always really helpful to go away from an interview with an action plan of one or two things to follow up on at home—even if only to encourage your child to continue to work hard and be a helpful class member. Ask your child’s teacher for strategies or suggestions! They should also come prepared to share these with you. If there needs to be a follow up conversation, agree on a time frame and action plan. Parent-teacher conversations are an opportunity to praise the accomplishments and effort your child has made, and to discuss any areas that may need improvement. Use this opportunity to create short and long term goals, reinforcements and expectations.
Finally, thank the teacher for their hard work and partnership in your child’s education. And pop over and say hello to me at the welcome desk!