As a newly-qualified teacher I'd heard tales of teachers being given a hard time about the parents' little smashers. As my first parents' evening approached, early in the second half-term, the creeping realisation dawned that I didn't know all the kids as well as I felt I should.
The children at either extreme of the ability range tend to stand out. But then there are those in the middle - especially the quiet, shy ones. On top of that, although I'd had brief words with a few mums and dads when they came to deliver and collect their offspring, I knew the parents even less.
In the end, the meetings were at least as helpful to my development as they were informative for the parents. The first thing I learned was how vital it is to get feedback from home.
There was John who'd told his mum he didn't get any homework, which explained why he never returned his. Bethan seemed to be gaining confidence but told her mum she didn't get picked to answer questions. Ahmed had told me his parents read him the library books he took home which were above his level. His parents complained that he struggled with them.
The second thing I learned was that keeping records on the children's day-to-day achievements was more than tedious paperwork. Half a school year on, and the parents and I are no longer strangers. As for records, though it's hard to find the time, I'm developing stuff that matches the national curriculum for thoroughness, if not tedium. Go on, ask me how many Year 4 words Jose has securely, or Miriam's command of her times tables... What do you mean you'd rather read the national curriculum?
David Ogle is a class teacher at Pooles Park primary school in London. The names of the children have been changed