Tonight is Parents’ Evening. Not for me as a teacher, but as a parent. It is T’s second parents’ evening in year 1: the first was a bit of a disaster. Being those awkward parents who couldn’t make any of the allotted times, we had arranged to see T’s teacher after school one day. However, as the other children trotted out of the classroom and onto the playground, we were waved over and told that T was currently being sick with his head in a bucket. As it was the only time we could make, we carried on (obviously after all vomiting had ceased), conducting the meeting sitting on the floor with a (clean) bucket next to us, just in case. Not the ideal way to hold a meeting, admittedly, but it did take some of the pressure off.
As a teacher, I find it really hard to be sitting on the other side of the table. I’ve had to talk to many parents in my time who are teachers. Some make the job very easy and just talk about their child like others who aren’t in the profession. But there are others who like to make their “status” very clear (“Oh, don’t do yourself down, dear, you weren’t just a teacher, you were Head of Department!” is quite possibly my favourite line EVER!) and ask lots of awkward teacher questions. We all know we have a brief inward groan when we see those names come up on the schedule. So, tonight is going to be difficult. There are lots of questions that I want to ask. But I want to ask these as a parent, not as a teacher. Usually, I would leave it to MNVTH to ask these questions: he’s good at being a little bit awkward! But he knows the teacher outside of the parent/teacher relationship, which makes the whole confrontation issue that little bit harder. It’s hard not to make comparisons with my own school. I realise that every school is different and that policies vary, but the only point of reference I have is where I work. I don’t want to be that parent who talks about herself and her job: those parents really drive me mad. And then, of course, there is the relationship I mentioned earlier between MVNTH and the teacher. They have many other things to talk about beside T. At least this time, we have a 10 minute deadline to stick to (always useful for those awkward parents, I find). There won’t be time for casual chit chat, but I just hope there is time for me to bring up my queries. I don’t want to be that parent who has the door opened for them because they won’t stop talking (MVNTH take note here – the door being opened is DEFINITELY the cue to leave!). Fortunately, all is well with T at school. I’d be rubbish at dealing with real problems.
Being a teaching parent does have its advantages: you can read between the lines of what the teacher says, you can crack the teacher code, but with that advantage comes the huge list of parents that you don’t want to be like! I know full well that all of the teachers will be talking in the staff room tomorrow morning about the parents they’ve seen tonight, regaling each other with tales of who was lovely, who was a good laugh, who was a complete nightmare and which ones caused trouble. I know which categories I don’t want to be in tomorrow morning… wish me luck!