Teachers are prone to judging students, particularly those with behavioural and learning difficulties, negatively.
Effective parent-teacher meetings can boost family involvement in the classroom which, in turn, promotes positive outcomes for students, parents, teachers and schools.
Such meetings give teachers a better understanding of the family’s circumstances so that they are more empathetic to the child’s needs.In Malaysia, brief 10- to 20-minute meets are held annually where the class teacher hands the students’ academic results to the parents.
It would be more effective if such sessions were treated as a platform for parents and teachers to listen to each other’s expectations and ideas, as well as to discuss practical ways family members can support students at home.
Thus, I propose these steps to ensure a more meaningful exchange: > Sessions could start with the teacher praising the child.
Praises can be given in terms of the child’s temperament, social skills, strengths, etc. It can be as simple as the child having good attendance, being a good listener or being popular among friends.
> Next, the teacher may discuss the child’s progress and growth. The assessment practice aims to report the learning development of students according to their abilities. Grades and marks are no longer the focus. What students know and can do matters more.> After that, the teacher may discuss realistic ideas on how parents can be involved in their children’s education at home.
The suggestions can include talking to children about school, helping them with their homework, checking their exercise books, and visiting public libraries together as a family.
> Invite parents to give feedback, share their expectations and hopes, as well as ask questions. Some parents may not have anything to say. The teacher can probe by asking their thoughts on the child’s performance at school and his or her attitude at home. This step is essential because parental input can help teachers better understand students’ strengths, needs, behaviours, and learning styles. While parents and teachers should be open to constructive criticism, it is important to avoid using negative words that could sour the relationship between both parties.
> The teacher and parents may conclude the meeting by thanking each other for the cooperation and dedication shown by both parties.
SITI SORAYA LIN ABDULLAH KAMAL
Coordinator (University Courses Section)
School of Distance Education
Universiti Sains Malaysia