Navigating Parent/Teacher/Student Interviews in the Senior School

During Term 3, parents and students in our Senior School will have the opportunity to come together with teachers for these interviews.

Berwick Grammar School interviews are:

  • Monday August 5 for Year 7, 8 and 9 students
  • Monday August 12 for Year 10, 11 and 12 students

St Margaret’s School interviews are:

  • Tuesday August 6 for Year 7, 11 and 12 students
  • Tuesday August 13 for Year 8, 9 and 10 students

Great care is taken by teachers to prepare for these interviews. Whilst Senior School interviews have the potential to feel like a form of speed dating, teachers are aware of the compressed time factor and have strategies for ensuring that the time available is used well. Teachers will have different types, and quantities, of information to share about our students as the year progresses and we get to know them better.

Each interaction, however, always focuses on our students’ learning.

Teachers will explain what they know about your child’s learning in their subject, what they have observed about the child’s learning behaviours and how these affect the capacity for further learning and what support can be offered to improve learning.

Whilst, as parents, your focus may come from the reports received at the end of the first semester, and therefore more concerned about the results displayed on those reports, there is actually more to be gained through a conversation around learning goals rather than on performance statistics, such as test results, in isolation.

The outcome from these honest and reflective conversations should be a plan for moving forward in your child’s learning in each subject area. This plan may involve what the teacher will do, what you will do as parents but, more importantly, what your child will do. The research is very clear on this – the person who can make the most positive difference to learning is the child themselves.

As these conversations focus on students’ learning, the school expects that the students will attend with their parents. This can have the potential for stress for some students. The prospect of being evaluated/judged in front of authority figures, and in a public setting, can be a stressful experience for teenagers. Teachers are skilled at orchestrating these conversations so that this risk is minimised. Teachers may suggest that a longer, more private conversation be organised after the initial interview.

Here are some other benefits of a parent-teacher-student interview:

  • The big picture: An interview will offer a better understanding about your child’s academic, emotional, social and physical development. Your child’s strengths and weaknesses in all subject areas can be explained in detail.
  • Insight into class interactions: Teachers can provide invaluable feedback on the behaviour of your child in the classroom.
  • Homework expectations: As students progress through the school, expectations in relation to homework and study times will vary. Parents should know what is expected of their child, and the additional work that can be done if it appears a student does not have any assigned homework tasks.
  • Educational support: Teachers are in the best position to recognise when learning support is required. An interview enables teachers and parents to make plans for further educational support if necessary.
  • Home link: There is a strong link between homework tasks and future plans and ambitions. Parents can help support their children establish homework routines that will help them progress.
  • Shared goals: Progress in relation to goal setting based on discussions during interviews will further improve the relationship between parents and students.

Sometimes, when a teacher shares some challenging information, some parents react in protective mode. If this happens, interviews can quickly become more harmful than helpful. It is always better, if you feel this happening, to ask for a follow-up phone call or an alternative time to talk about any concerns raised.

Preparing for the Interviews

  • Talk with your child: What are their issues with school, where do they need support and in what subjects do they feel they are learning well? In what subjects are they not learning well? Why do they think this is the case? Are they up-to-date with all tasks?
  • Discuss school with your child regularly and find out how they’re going with assessments as well as how they approach their learning (learning behaviours such as self-regulation, openness to learning, critical and creative thinking, collaboration and communication)
  • Let the teacher know ahead of time if there’s something specific you want to discuss during the meeting

During the parent-teacher-student interview

  • It’s not about you or the teacher: it’s about your child. Keeping conversation focused on ways to help or recognise them is positive
  • Keep conversation focused not just on their assessment but on skills they need to develop, such as organisation, and how they respond to others in class
  • Take notes so you and your child have something to focus on to help develop goals and skills

Ms Linda Shardlow
Director of the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching