Meet the Teacher Night. My own memories as a (very) young student are of excitement, especially if I believed my teachers had something great to tell my parents, to trepidation for reasons that belong in another blog! In my professional experience, meet the teacher night is meant to be an open showcase where parents can put a face to the name that they’ve (hopefully) heard in response to the daily question, “what did you do at school today?” What most kids don’t realize is that this is a night that can also be filled with a great deal of anxiety for both parents and teachers.
Having a daughter who has transitioned to High School this year, I attended the open house at her school. I have been to many previous open houses throughout her Elementary days and although I would occasionally walk away with questions about things that the teacher said, I always told myself that Elementary was different and that I should wait and see how things unfold.
This year I walked away from her open house and found myself questioning things that don’t align with what is considered best practice and I am struggling with the best way to approach her teachers about these concerns. As a Vice-Principal, these types of conversations about moving learning forward happen on a regular basis. Sometimes teachers approach me and other times I initiate, so I know how to talk about this topic – from a parental perspective, I’m now struggling with the ‘how to approach’ the conversation that seems to be problematic. Having talked to others, I don’t appear to be alone in this.
If parents who are educators have a difficult time raising concerns with their childrens’ teachers, then how can we make it easier for the parents who may be less familiar with the system? Are we doing enough at our Open Houses to welcome questions and does our community leave with the understanding that we are always open to questions in the future? If the answer to that last question is no, then why do we continue the practice of the Meet the Teacher Night? Is it because we have always had it? As a parent myself, I feel there is value in the ‘face to a name’ exercise. So then, what changes do we need to make moving forward?