September is in full swing and so are the school activities, including parent-teacher night. To successfully squeeze in several of these mini-conferences into a two hour timeframe, you need to have a game plan.
I have two high school students in the same school, which means I’m visiting with eleven to twelve teachers during the school’s parent-teacher night. Over the past few years I’ve mastered the art of navigating through the night and will share them with you.
Here are 10 tips to get through the Parent-Teacher Night quickly and efficiently:
Review online progress reports. Most schools now post students’ progress online. If available in your district, review your students’ progress online ahead of time. Speak with your child about each class, how they feel they’re doing, and their difficulties, if any, in each class. Take notes and bring them with you!
Arrive with a detailed list & a school map. Ask your kids to write down each of their teachers’ names, their subjects, and the classroom numbers. If you’re not familiar with the layout of the school, ask your children to draw out a map of the school and clearly mark on the map where their classrooms are located.
Plan your visitation schedule. Base your classroom visits on where they are located in the school. Most schools are laid out so that all subject teachers are in the same hallway. All science classrooms are together, all math, all history, etc. If you have to visit two science teachers that evening, see them both while you’re in that hallway. Don’t be afraid to ask other parents in line which teacher that they are waiting for so you avoid standing in the wrong line!
Bring your spouse. If you can attend with your spouse and split forces, do it!
Arrive early. I always arrive one half hour before the teachers are scheduled to see their first parent. Doing so means I’m first in line and can usually see 2-3 teachers before most parents have even arrived at the school.
Visit the difficult classes first. If your child is having trouble in a particular class, visit that teacher first. Chances are if your child is having difficulty with a particular class/teacher, then many other students are as well and the line for that teacher will be quite long. Arriving early, means you’ll be first in line for these teachers that will later have very long lines.
Keep your visit brief. I waited thirty minutes while a single parent monopolized the teachers time one night! Luckily it was my last teacher visit. For your own efficiency and to be courteous of other parents in line, keep your teacher visit to three minutes. If you need to talk longer than that, ask the teacher if you can contact them via email or check in with them on your child’s progress in two weeks.
Just say hello. If your child is an “A” student and doing very well; but you’d like to meet the teacher anyway, then do just that… say hello, introduce yourself, and say good-bye. The teachers have a lot of parents they need to speak with that night and if you don’t have a serious issue, then there’s no need to take up their time.
Special Education. This happened to be the teacher I waited for one parent for 30 minutes. Special Ed teachers are available to talk on parent-teacher night, but please keep in mind that this is not an IEP meeting; it’s just a quick three-minute check-in so keep your visit brief.
Guidance. Guidance counselors are also required to be available on this night. If you have a Sophmore, Junior, or Senior, the few minutes you spend with their guidance counselor can be some of the most valuable that evening! Ask them for your student’s current GPA. Ask them the PSAT and SAT schedule and when your child should be taking these tests. Ask them how to do a college search on the Naviance software. Ask them when college fairs begin. Guidance counselors can also offer suggestions if your child is having trouble with a particular teacher. I highly recommend you get to know your child’s guidance counselor in high school!