Sunday, July 12, 2009

Parent teachers’ meets...those dreaded days when the three stakeholders of a school come together

The Principal Ponders!
My objective in having my own blog is to share my thoughts and experiences with all my friends that I meet or don’t meet regularly. There are people I meet professionally or personally who are not exactly friends or just acquaintances, but someone I would like to include in my list of friends on this planet. In the last one month of my ‘blogging days’ I have realized how many people actually respond to various issues.
I do hope that I would be able to transform that response into action... a progressive and proactive action is all that is needed to usher in positive change. My all time favourite line, “You be the change you wish to see in the world” is what drives me all through!
I want you to respond, discuss, debate or comment and I do hope ( I hate this word ‘hope’ coz it sounds so pessimistic that what you wish for may not happen)
I am happy that we are able to transform the young people who are in our care. I will be more happy if a similar transformation takes place in the parents of these young people....for their own sake. If growing up years are happy life is happier. Together society, parents and school have to consciously make an effort to create a positive present for a positive future.

Parent teachers’ meets...those dreaded days when the three stakeholders of a school come together for a session of
“who is good who is bad and who is ugly?”
Well, each one thinks that they are good and the others are bad or ugly.
How we live in a make believe world.

Well I remember my school days when my parents used to come to school may be once or twice during the school year. At the time of admission, Annual day, one odd time when I would reach late or returning after a sick explain my problem to the teacher. I was not top runner in the class yet I don’t remember any anxiety or fear when my parents would meet my teacher was a pleasant exchange of notes as far as I remember.

As years went by I myself became the parent of a spirited young girl. I remember her class teacher cum math teacher, the dominating Ms Agarwal who always made me feel like a criminal for allowing my daughter to be so spirited.
I used to dread the PTMs. Well age has mellowed down my girl and she began to show her spirit in studies and gradually PTMs turned into pleasant sharing of her achievements.

In my career as a teacher I always made sure that my students’ parents knew the strong points of their children. It took some time for parents to believe
that their disobedient son can actually be responsible,
their calm girl is a leader in the school
or their apparently careless son actually has a lot of knowledge
I made sure that parents met their children’s public personalities. What they normally see is a child at home who could be throwing tantrums or tempers.
But in school...they transform into different human beings. It gave me great pleasure to re-introduce children to their parents..and it worked. The relationships at home, improved a helped students to do well.

Now as the Principal of a big school with nearly 2000 students from toddlers of 3+ years to young people of 15+ years, PTMs have different connotation. I meet
doting parents strict parents concerned parents
as well as
unreasonable parents
parents with misplaced priorities
parents who do not know what is important
and sadly some parents who only come to school to insult their child in front of the teacher and other visitors in the class.

I find it very sad that they come to school with their child looking like a ‘bali ka bakra’ ( the same child walks like a confident young person when parents are not around) unable to make eye contact with anyone because he or she is sure that parents are going to put me down in front of everybody.
Worst of all, there are some parents who ask the teachers to beat their children so that they will study and get marks.

I met this parent y’day who is educated with good exposure and a well placed professional. As his kids joined the school this session, this was the first PTM he attended. I remember talking to him during the admission interview. He seemed like an understanding parent too..then!
I was surprised to meet him again. The way he started the conversation was so disappointing. I felt as if my school has not done justice to his kids in the last 3 weeks of the session.
But the fact is that both his kids have improved well and the confidence with which his 10yr old son was explaining about his inquiry was amazing.

The boy explained the economic growth in kukatpally area because of demand and supply that has grown due to migration of families from coastal areas and other parts of the country.
I was watching the father’s face...not a bit of joy! Only waiting for his son to finish so that he can begin complaining about one question not corrected in a worksheet which is actually given as an activity.

I did my best in making the father see the progress in his child but he did his best in not seeing the big picture.

Whether it is pessimism or cynicism I am yet to understand but what makes people unhappy for small things and not happy for even big things a question to me.
This is a syndrome I have seen with many parents. I guess this generation of parents....some of them...have not seen life as a big picture! They have seen their immediate world and not much beyond that. They started enjoying the benefits of modernity in terms of material comforts but not seen modernity in terms of positive living.
They are seeing how the world is changing but they don’t see the changes in educational patterns. They feel comfortable if their children do the same thing as they did in their school days...write loads of questions/answers...mug them up and reproduce in the exam and get good marks.
They talk about competition but they know very little about what is competition.
They talk about coaching and tuitions but they don’t know that what is needed for their children is higher order thinking skills and not memorising answers.
Their personal inadequacies and drawbacks, they palm it off on their children. They preach a lot to children but practice little themselves.

When we asked Grade 2 students to write down popular family activities at home, 75% (out of 200students) have written watching TV.
For popular family outings 70% of them have written going to movies and 30% of them have written... attending family functions.
We still hoped that there could be some good in that too and asked what movies they have seen...needless to say...latest telugu or hindi movies.
When it came to family functions, they did not talk much about traditions or importance of that function but what they ate, what new dress they got for the function or what return gift they got.
With consistent efforts since 3 years, I observed that parents are buying books as gifts for children but we will be truly happy when children will tell us that book reading is their popular family activity or watching a good movie and learning something out of it is a popular family outing.
Just like we have a culture in the speak softly and pleasantly and always be positive, I wish home environment also thrives on such positive interactions between family members where they discuss the world at the dinner table and take joy in what children have to share from their world.
Good feelings have to be consciously developed and plus points have to be talked more often. Mostly people talk about the few minus points all the time and very little about many plus points. They think that it is is discouraging for a child and not care in any way.
PTMs...the dreaded day of parent teacher meets can be pleasant experiences if the parents have loving approach towards their children’s studies and not a stern approach.

Episode Punch

  • Good parents
    They reach on time and park the car in the designated parking area.
    They come in with a pleasant expression if not a smile.
    Meet the teacher like a respectful friend.
    Wait for her to be free to talk to them.
    Ask her/him about their child’s plus and minus points and take tips to work on them
    Go through their child’s portfolio with interest and discover the child’s talents.
    Realize that learning has different faces now, not just a notebook, question /answers/tests and report cards!
    Meet the respective teachers of different subjects and pleasantly discuss the progress their child is making.
    Find out about the new initiatives of the school.

    Not very good parentBolds
    They come in a hurry and advice the school on having the meets on Sundays.
    They show impatience in waiting for the teacher to be free.
    Wishing the school members is dependent on their mood.
    They may not bring the child with them.
    They come with the idea of finding a fault with the school.
    They are generally unhappy people who don’t see the 98 good things the school is doing but find only those small insignificant 2 things that the school is not doing!
    They can be stubborn enough to believe that those 2 insignificant things are the only topics to talk about.
    Some of them think that they can demand anything from the school because...they paid the fee!
    They may also think that they know better than the school.


Manjula Bhasin said...

Ma'am U are absolutely on dot when it comes to the pulse of parents these days.Here I Would share an incident wherein I got an insight into the mind of a responsible parent, who was more of a friend to the child and so could discuss everything about the child without any preconcieved notions.
-manjula bhasin

megha said...

i think you are absolutely right. many parents come to the school for pointing out something.I would like to say one thing was even my mother had a trouble as becausewe had to come twice ,she said she wants to sugeest that ther should be different PTMs for me and my siste. But i made her understand. Similarly there all the students should be able to explain why the PTMs are in that way!Not instead advising their parents to go and complain.And i also want to say is not only the parents i tink the teachers too face problem to come but they still come not even complaining for anything. I also thank all my teachers as because my mom when she has come to the PTM all the teachers suggested her and me how to improve in many ways . AND I PROMISED MY MOM I WILL DO MY BEST IN ALL!!!

ratna said...

i would like to share my experiences in this regard. There was this mother who is very much concerned about her child's progress. She can hardly speek or even undersatnd English. Her 9th grade son couldn't attend the classes for 2 weeks, due to illness, he was at home couping up with his work. The mother came to PTM with his 5th grade sibling as translater between the mother and the facilitator. I appreciate her.
On the contrary one parent of the same class couldnt attend the meeting as she had to shop for a marriage which is to be held a month after.
Another parent came till the block and went back without meeting the teachers as his child was not selected for the rigor program.
Parents should feel that the PTMs are important for the childs progress. Unlike our school days, now as the attitudes are changing and the learning strategies are differnt it is very important that the parents should meet the teachers.

Revathi said...

That was interesting having written about the mindsets of different parents.

RK Ramakrishna said...

I am coming to school as a parent for 5 years now.I am seeing a lot of change in ptm s.Just like the school is changing parents are also learning from school.4 years back i always asked about marks and where my child is sitting in the class.sometimes I was rude also to the teachers.You talked to me many times after that.Now i enjoy coming to school and meeting my daughter's teachers.When I see her work and portfolio I feel very happy.In your episode punch you wrote about good parents and not very good parents. I am a good parent.I love my daughter and I want all happiness for her.

Anonymous said...

As a teacher I also faced many situations with parents.Many of them dont know how to talk with respect.They behave as if we are their workers.It is so sad that I love my students but I dont respect their parents.(not all of them,some of them are very respectful)When I try to explain they are not even interested.They want to say something and go away.
For their children atleast they haveto change themselves.

Aniruddha said...

Dear Madam,

very good and important topic you have chosen.

I think there is one more category of the parents out there in the community. These are the parents who believe in great Abraham Lincon and his unforgettable Letter to the principal of his son's school.

All they wish and expect from the school is that their child should be prepared to face the competitive, cruel world outside. He should know the realities of the life and come out from the world of fairy-tales and face the real world of beautiful Kashmir with the terrorists.

Their unspoken wish is that their child should have a kind heart with a hard practiced fighting skills and a mind trained to make decision and find a way when required.

They expect a lot from the school and it is natural. The child spends more time in the school than he spends with his parents. For the student the teacher is always right.
These parents come to the PTMs to find more positives in the teachers, the school atmosphere and get the assurance that their child is in safe hands and is going to bloom in the beautuful flower with all colours of life.

Patiently they hear and bear with the topics on change in fee structure, long waiting hours, a teacher speaking jargonful language in which they are not interested.

These are the assets to the school.


Ranga Suman Kondamuri said...

Dear Madam,

I attended the recent Parent Teacher Meeting and I am very happy about it.

PTMs are important for the following reasons

1.PTM provides quality time for parents and teachers to get to know each other on a more personal level

2. PTM can strengthen communications and foster a clearer understanding so that parents and teachers can partner to help the student to achieve success.

3.Discuss the student's preferred learning activities and areas of concerns

4. Behavior Difficulties if any may be discussed and focus and work on the same.

Your detailed analysis of this important topic must be a real "eye opener" to many parents

Anonymous said...

i completely agree with what Mr. Aniruddha has written. Parents have an illusion that the teachers have 'jaadu ki chadi'with them and the problems related to their child will be solved if it is told to the teacher. Teachers have the sole duty of making the parents comfortable and they should leave the campus with a satisfaction that their child is in the safest hand.

your Manager Admissions said...

Parent Teachers'Meet a precious time where two partners working towards moulding a child meet. Many parents will be waiting for this day to come. These days I have seen a good lot of parents, these young parents have started understanding the teachers.The relationship between them is interesting, a few parents treat their child's teacher with great respect because their child is influenced a lot by their teacher. These parents try to discuss the plus and minus points of their child and they try to appreciate the teacher for the hard work.

There are a very few parents who don't understand the teacher's feelings, the patience they have to deal with their child along with many other students. They see for only whether the book is filled or the box is emptied.

jayaprada said...

Ma'am that is well written about PTM's!
As a Teacher... As an Educator....
Iam meeting parents since 13 years iam seeing lot of changes are taking place in the interactions especilly in the PTMs.As a Teacher I feel so happy talking about my student's strengths and when I give suggessions for their improvement or to overcome their weaknesses I feel my self as a Educational Specialist.In this senario my many more thanks to you for making PTM's more meaningful,making us more bold allowing us to be transparent.
As a Parent wish my wish come true....
As a parent I go with same energy,enthu to listen my children strengths and weaknesses.It is not critisizing about their school,when ever I go for PTM's first rule is child's presence is must,otherwise they don't recognise name by though they are studying in the same school since seven years which it makes me very unhappy and the meetings they never talk about the strengths always complaining their weaknesses which I never feel like to attend the meetings.
every month when you attend Principals meet please talk some changes about PTMS and Teaching Learining approaches.I think only YOU CAN DO IT.Thankyou once again giving an opportunity to share my views.

y.sushmitha said...

it was very interesting to read about the mindsets of different parents

Prabhath said...

That was the best of features of our school to be talked about mam. Today as i am closing onto the ending of my school life , I can proudly look back and say that OUR School is the one that is the best in parent-school relations. We have been significantly effective on the parent's mind in the perspective of learning and education. And also i hope we can improve our work by removing those 2 backdrops of the relations between parents and the school. After all the team@silveroaks consists not only of students, teachers but also parents too!

ravalikareddy said...

ma'am i agree with u...
i am inspired by the way u make the parents aware through your personal experiences...
after joining this school i gained confidence. Negative thinking which made me go down , i am gradually reducing it. that's why "I AM PROUD OF MY SELF TO BE AN ACORN OF SILVER OAKS".
yes ma'am many of the students have xenophobia of parent teacher meeting....i was a witness to it..
i studied in Saudi from grade 1 to 8 and to tell u i was really very very scared to attend this meeting... i used to have a sleepless night the previous day but after coming here i am in fact waiting to attend this meeting as i want to listen the comments on me from my teachers.
thank u ma'am
your blog was very interesting and i really liked it very much...

Satish Boreddy said...

Hello Ms.Seeta Murthy

I say I absolutely agree with the idea of your PTM, I see a positive change that you want to bring in a child's life. The idea about introducing parents to their child's public personality would revolutionize the way parents look at their child. And believe me when I say I don't like flattering people and I would like to suggest something If i May and out of total respect I tell you this:
I don't know the selection process of your school's teachers but one thing is only a spirited person can do a job of teaching a child, i.e., imparting the knowledge by getting down to the child's level. So, I would suggest that you take a feedback from the students and their parents on how the teacher performs. I don't mean to criticize a teacher but a anonymous feedback would make a positive effort in providing a better education and would improve the teacher too.
Finally I salute the Acharya, the teacher for their noble heart in getting into a godly profession
to impart the wisdom and hope you take this opinion of mine in a positive way.

i m said...

yes ma'am what ever you have posted in your blog is absolutely correct....

I have found one more fact that some of the students who come with their parents, after having met all his or her teachers... keep a sad face having imagined the aftermaths...

All the parents should read this blog and understand the talents of their child in absence of them ...

nandhini said...

well this topic is some thing really important for all the parents and students too... to explain their parents about what their role is .. and how they should react to certain things.
mam it is really true, some parents in their tension just come to meet the teachers unwillingly and just try to rush away.
it is good that u have brought this topic and i hope all parents read it and try to understand..

davalika said...

u r absolutely right
i have been visiting ur blog almost everyday