It’s parents’ evening season.
Your school may have tea and tissues on hand for you, but to get through the evening you’re going to need reinforcements. Here are my favourite hacks to help you breeze through parents' evening like a pro.
How to survive parents' evening
1. Antibacterial gel
If you want to get through the evening without catching - or passing on - 30 different cold viruses, then you’re going to need back-up. Rather than risking offending parents with a large pump-style bottle, opt for something small and discreet that you can use to apply surreptitiously as the new set of parents arrive.
2. Throat lozenges
You may not have a sore throat at the start of the evening, but you will when you’re three-quarters of your way through your list of parents. Throat sprays can also help if you’re already suffering, and may make parents take pity on you and keep the chat minimal.
3. A hand-out to send home
It’s not easy to bring the meeting to a close, especially if you’ve already overrun and your parents feel like they want to get what they’re "owed" from their appointment.
Something I find really helps is handing out a list for further reading. This can be a list of books or magazines students might be interested in or, for older students, academic journals that they should be taking a look at.
Either way, a generic list that you personalise by highlighting the ones you think your student might enjoy is a sure way to end the meeting on a positive...and you can stand up, shake the parents' hands and give them the list.
4. Print the photographs
Having photos of all your students really helps when you’re tired and under pressure, when suddenly all of the Year 3 cohort start to blur together. Don’t feel self-conscious about needing a visual reminder – it’s much better to refer to the photo and be certain you’re speaking about the right child than it is to go through the whole appointment and realise afterwards you’ve mixed up your Charlies.
5. Student work
Aside from the obvious data in your markbook, it is really helpful to have your students’ work on hand to show their parents. Whether it’s an individual piece of work or their actual class book, having a physical object to pass across and discuss helps to make your feedback clear and relevant.
And it might also help to have another point of comparison, so keep on hand other (anonymous) pieces of work to use as examples of what a student should be aiming for.
This is really handy when you have a parent who is insistent that their child is in the wrong group or doesn’t need to improve, and you need to show them the gap between what they’re doing and other students are capable of.