Friday, August 13, 2010

Parent-Teacher Night: reflections, and 10 questions for your child's teacher

We've just had a parent-teacher night here.  I make a point of attending, as a member of the teaching staff.  I may not, in advance, have many (or any) appointments with parents - kids tend to make them with their class teachers.  But I'm not lonely.  A number of parents stop by to say hello - I was year adviser to one of their older children, or am mentor to one of their senior students now, so I hear how the older ones are going, talk about the ones still at school.  Some I'm able to help find other staff members (the kids may know what each of their teachers looks like, but parents need the name tags on the tables). 

And my colleagues see me there, part of the teaching staff, spending my afternoon and evening at school the same as they are.  Good library PR.  A couple of them refer parents to me, or include me in a discussion.  The principal knows I choose to attend; a couple of times he's brought parents to meet me who may have asked about or been appreciative of the library.  As I said, good library PR.  I also have home-made muffins and make a cuppa for the teachers in the faculty to which I belong - they're deep in interview after interview, and I can escape for a few minutes to make a cuppa and bring it to them at their desks.

I've had some teacher librarian colleagues rubbish the idea of attending parent-teacher night, for various reasons.  Me, I know it's my time, I know I probably don't HAVE to be there, but I choose to be there and am happy to demonstrate my professional commitment.  I've had a couple of colleagues ask, bewildered, why are you here?  But they know I am, and will be.  It's my choice, as a teacher.

Years ago I got one of the best bits of advice about parent-teacher night from an English teacher (who I now can recognise was one of my most important mentors in teaching): the parents want to hear something positive about their kids - whoever their kid may be.  It works for me.  It doesn't mean you can't get down to brass tacks when there are problems that need addressing, but it's a useful mindset for a productive, appreciated discussion.

Darcy Moore's excellent blog has a brilliant entry on ten questions he wishes parents would ask him:

How would your child’s teachers fare if asked these questions:

1. What is your educational philosophy?

2. How are you assisting our child to become a self-directed learner?

3. What professional reading are you undertaking at the moment?

4. What are you reading for fun?

5. How do you use technology as a tool to leverage learning in the classroom?

6. What online resources have you created for your class?

7. How do you assist students to learn about digital citizenship?

8. What professional networks and associations are you involved with regularly?

9. What observations can you offer about our child’s happiness at school?

10. What reflections can you make about our child’s growth as a learner and citizen this year?

Useful for one's own reflection/professional development.  Do read the full blog entry and comments (it's a blog worth following, as are his Tweets).


David Linke said...

What a great post detailing how to show professionalism and not demand it.

I know the Hub has been talking about the need to educate fellow teachers, Principals and Parents about the value of a TL in a school.

This is a really simple method of having colleagues and parents see the benefits of a professional TL. Might be an idea to create some form of report about the developments in the Library over the last term or semester and have it available for parents if they drop by your table.

This sort of proactive behaviour makes it much harder for the school to replace the TL with a non-TL in the future.

Momo said...

Yes I also always attend Parent Teacher nights - I so agree with your message - we are part of the teaching staff! More and more I feel our role is being (deliberately)sidelined and so yes I try to take EVERY opportunity to maintain a high profile even though at times it can wear me out. I recently talked to our new parents for Kinder 2011 and talked about reading EVERY day to your child - for some (and these are middle class and fairly wealthy parents) this was a revolutionary and NEW message!!!!
Thanks again for you blog it is a little while since I dipped in like you I have been 'busy'!

Rachael said...

Good questions, all. I better start investing in the answers as I prepare to return to teaching after a break for three children. Thank you!