Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Parents' Evening

I love most things about being a teacher, but one of the worst things is parents' evenings.  Actually, scrub that, one of the worst things is the anticipation of parents' evenings.  I always absolutely dread them, but once they get going the vast majority of parents are lovely - and appreciative - and I end up really enjoying the opportunity to chat with them. 

I've now in my 13th year of teaching and I can count the number of parents who've been rude or aggressive at these meetings on the fingers of one hand...  but I guess those few mentally scar you for life!  (Although at least now I can look back and simply roll my eyes at the excruciatingly embarrassing 10 minutes I spent with the newly-divorced couple who swore constantly at eachother...  and the husband of one of my then-colleagues who rudely told me I was teaching PE 'wrong'.  Awkward!)

Anyway, it's struck me before, and did again this evening, that some of the parents clearly dread the whole experience as much as I do!  Some come in nervously and sit up very straight on the tiny chairs, looking petrified that I'm going to tell them their child is some kind of behavioural nightmare without 2 braincells to rub together...  but luckily I didn't have reason to say much that was negative about any of the children in my class this year!

Thanks to my ex-colleague Chris for introducing me to the following poem by the great Allan Ahlberg.  Chris used to stick a copy of it onto his classroom door at every parents' evening, and I like to think it cheered up a good few parents - it certainly always makes me smile!

Parents' Evening

We're waiting in the corridor,
My dad, my mum and me.
They're sitting there and talking;
I'm nervous as can be.
I wonder what she'll tell 'em.
I'll say I've got a pain!
I wish I'd got my spellings right.
I wish I had a brain.

We're waiting in the corridor,
My husband, son and me.
My son just stands there smiling;
I'm smiling nervously.
I wonder what she'll tell us.
I hope it's not all bad.
He's such a good boy, really;
But dozy - like his dad.

We're waiting in the corridor.
My wife, my boy and me.
My wife's as cool as cucumber;
I'm nervous as can be.
I hate these parents' evenings.
The waiting makes me sick.
I feel just like a kid again
Who's gonna get the stick.

I'm waiting in the classroom.
It's nearly time to start.
I wish there was a way to stop
The pounding in my heart.
The parents in the corridor
Are chatting cheerfully;
And now I've got to face them,
And I'm nervous as can be.

(From Heard it in the Playground by Allan Ahlberg)


Babbling in Brunei said...

Are you kidding? I love parents' evening! Seeing the characters, the costumes, the personalities and the realisation that ahhhhh I see why your child is like that now. The worst thing about teaching has to be the reports, let's face it do you think parents actually read most of it? I doubt it, they probably only look at the grades.
Anyway, nice blog.

At Anna's kitchen table said...

I always read my daughter's report. After all if the teacher's taken the time to write it, the least I can do is read it!
I've never looked at parents evening from the teacher's point of view, so thanks Kate, especially for sharing that cute poem!

Chris said...

And I still do Mrs P!

julie said...

Lovely poem. I had a few of these evenings in secondary school, I hate that they drag on for so long but it's usually interesting to see the parents, and some have really no clue! Now I guess I'm on the other side...

snowy said...

This brought back many memories Kate - mostly good ones! I love Allan Ahlberg and am now introducing my grandsons to 'Please Mrs Butler'.
Thanks for posting this.