Staff at sixth form colleges and further education institutions will often come into contact with parents as well. Most colleges will have times during the year when staff will be expected to be available to talk to parents.
Don't save up big issues for parents' evenings. These should be dealt with as appropriate throughout the term.
Try to make yourself accessible to parents. Never allow them to talk to you during lesson time, but make an appointment as soon as possible if they want to discuss something with you.
Sort out problems as quickly as possible, before they spill over into the classroom and prevent a child from progressing. The more satisfactorily you handle difficulties, the greater the parents' support will be in the future.
At meetings, have your marking up-to-date and attendance records and attainment levels to hand. If you are seeing a parent who is known to be difficult or aggressive, ask a colleague (perhaps a senior management team member) to be present.
Avoid using educational jargon as far as possible, it could be lost on your audience. Instead, focus on the progress a child has made.
You can prepare for parent evenings by talking to the previous year's form teacher to find out if any parents are likely to be difficult and in what way. Make notes on anything you want to discuss with individuals.
On the day itself, have each student's work to hand, marked up to the previous day's date at the latest. Make sure your classroom is tidy.
During interviews, you may find the following tips helpful:
- be friendly but professional
- try to stick to the timetable - don't let latecomers over-run and disrupt the next parents on the list
- stand up to welcome parents with a smile and shake hands, and when they go, thank them for coming and for any help or support they have offered
- only have one set of parents in the room at a time
- make notes of any issues to be followed up as you go along.
For more information, see our advice on working with parents.