Parent Power

23rd March 2007 at 00:00
Meeting mums and dads is all-important for new teachers. Get them on side and you're halfway there, says Sara Bubb

Remember the power of parents. Your work will be so much easier if you get them on side, which is why you should not be fooled into thinking that parents' evening is just about how the children are doing. Like a post-match commentary, everything you say will be analysed at home and at the school gate, which can make or break your reputation.

Look at things from their point of view. They want to feel that their child is in safe hands, that you know something about them, that you like them, and that you know your stuff. They will be particularly twitchy if they know that you are newly qualified. If you look young too, their concerns about your capabilities will increase. Perhaps you share their concern. But try to wear your new teacher status with pride: you have been highly trained in modern teaching methods and are so enthusiastic and energetic - aren't you?

They will not want to hear a lot of waffle about what you are covering in the curriculum and will get very worried if you do not seem to know who their child is. This may result in you being classed as a "rubbish teacher".

So start with the easy stuff. Ensure that everything about you looks organised and that you keep to time. Write notes on each child, identifying strengths and areas for development. It is useful to ask the child what they think you will say. Have a list of your appointments and cross off when you have seen parents. This should stop you getting confused and talking about the wrong child - it has happened.

Be professional and tactful: if you think someone is lazy, then say that the pupil has not really fulfilled their potential this term, but that there is still time to turn this around.

Predict what issues parents might raise, and think of some answers. Ask colleagues for their tried and tested responses. Things such as, "Thank you for letting me know your concern. I'll look into it". What are you going to say when someone gets cross about the missing coat, the work that is too easy or too hard, or the bullying?

It is natural to meet aggression with aggression or to look how you feel - bewildered, confused, irritated and very, very tired - but remember, you are a professional now Sara Bubb is an education consultant who specialises in induction. She answers questions on our forums at www.tes.co.ukstaffroomnew_teachers

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