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Teachers must feel like celebrities this week.
Parents will queue patiently at schools throughout Ireland to hear how their child is performing. I think, however, parent teacher meetings are an utter waste of time. The principle of the idea is good, but it’s poorly executed in our schooling system. Most parents will get, if lucky, a maximum of five minutes per teacher. Five meagre minutes is not enough time to find out how their child is performing in a certain subject; where they’re excelling and what they’re finding difficult.
But it’s not really five minutes. After polite conversation these five minutes soon become three; the parents need to keep the teacher happy with their child so they can’t rush him or her. Then, the teacher has to excavate through his or her notes to find the student’s results and records; another minute gone. Meanwhile, the queue is getting bigger and more anxious by the second so the teacher will have to summarise it all in two minutes. But, the parents need to say goodbye and, how busy it’s in the school tonight; another 30 seconds gone. Neither teacher nor parent nor student benefit from this organised rush.
How we approach parent teacher meetings ought to change. There are three persons involved in a pupil’s education: the teacher, the student and the parent. And yet, the parent and the teacher only meet once a year, for five meagre minutes. I, myself a teacher, find it absurd that parent teacher meetings take place only once during an academic year; it’s something that needs to happen once every two months.
Circumstances can fluctuate at home and even the slightest change, illness in the family, for example, can have a huge impact on a pupil’s performance in class. Often, teachers are unaware of the aforesaid problem at home and, subsequently become puzzled when the pupil starts to under-perform because they’re normally great in class. Not only would more communication between teachers and parents benefit pupils, it would give parents a chance to pitch their ideas and to voice their concerns to teachers. Having parent teacher meetings every two months would create a host of logistical and financial issues for parents and schools alike. But, for me, its benefits trump the problems.
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