We started a different way to do parent teacher interviews this year and upon reflection, I love it. Let me describe last year. We started with a very brief introduction to our DP and MYP programs, then sent the parents around on a wild night where they rushed through every single teacher in their schedule and got to hear our quick introduction to what our course is and then sent them off on their way without a single one of us getting to chat at all.
This year we did something totally different. We spent half an hour in the first session with the advisors and really went through a lot of detail about general expectations of the school. We took the time to listen to the parents’ concerns and questions. Next each teacher joined into groups based on their main specialty and the parents got the opportunity to walk around the school. I ended up in the Math and Science teacher room with some of my colleagues and we waited around. Parents then moved from room to room and chose which teachers they wanted to chat with. None of the conversations were terribly private so we discussed generalities and arranged appointments for more private conversations when we felt they were necessary.
Parents didn’t feel like they were rushed and teachers didn’t feel like they needed to give parents information that the parents could have just as easily read. The whole evening felt a lot more like a real opportunity to mix and mingle with parents, while still providing parents with the choice to visit specific teachers. It worked.
In a few weeks we are going to host our student led conferences for our MYP students. Right after those conferences we’ll send home letters to the parents where teachers will specifically request interviews with parents that we feel like we need to see. In other words, we’ll never have to sit down and have an unnecessary conversation with a parent in a typical parent-teacher interview night.