Get the most out of parents' evenings.
Here are three questions you can ask your teen’s teachers that’ll help you get tangible take-aways and feel like you actually know what’s going on, without feeling like you’re grilling the teacher.
(Or maybe you’d love to grill the teacher, in which case these will also work. Just ask them with your best 'stern face') ;)
You’re listening to the Parents of Hardworking Teens Podcast, episode 39, with 3 questions you can ask your teen’s teachers at parents' evening, including a special free download I’ve made for you, that’ll help you get tangible take-aways and feel like you actually know what’s going on, without feeling like you’re grilling the teacher.
Or maybe you’d love to grill the teacher, in which case these will also work. Just ask them without smiling.
Hey VIPs! How are you? I hope you’re doing amazing and that the year is going well for you so far. I can’t believe we’re into March already. Time is flying by - though I don’t know why I even comment on time flying anymore. I think, past the age of like, 30, that’s just what it does. And it just keeps getting faster.
And, on the topic of time - and the month of March - I have been doing a LOT of planning lately. The team and I basically planned out the whole rest of the year for Rock Solid Study this past couple of weeks.
Normally we don’t plan right through the whole year, but I had so many ideas and great things in mind that we ended up doing the whole year. And I LOVE a good plan, and I really enjoy the actual process of planning and organising. Basically because I’m the opposite of go with the flow. I’d really sometimes like to be more ‘go with the flow’ - and sometimes it’s something for me to work on for sure - but when it comes to the act of planning and organising, it’s definitely a good thing. And now it means I also get to enjoy the bonus of being really excited for everything that’s going to be happening. Including our Next Level open enrolment and semester event happening early May, so any of you who have teens who have already graduated the 10WGT or will have done by then, definitely look out for that.
Before that, we have a live webinar event - now officially booked in for the 30th March - so mark your calendars for that and make sure you’re on my email list so you get your free invite. And this one is extra special because instead of just running it for my VIPs - very important parents - and carers, guardians, wonderful people doing the parenting thing… I’m tailoring this for you AND your teens.
I’ve had a fair bit of feedback now saying that you’d love for your teen to hear stuff directly from me, or learn my strategies directly, so that’s what I’m doing. So this webinar - It’s called ‘Get Your Busy Teen Organised and Efficient in Their Study’ - so they get more done, FASTER, AND get more marks in the process is for you and your teen. So attend together, or of course, just one of you is totally fine too, but I ran this webinar last year - just aimed at parents though - and it was REALLY popular. Because it really is some of my best content and actually, it’s more like a workshop.
I’ve gotta tell you, I do keep toying with the idea of charging for my webinars.
That was something else that was discussed during the mega plan-a-thon. I know most other education or teen experts and speakers do and I often get told by business-minded people that’s what I should be doing. AND I often get feedback from parents telling me they got so much out of what I deliver there.
And for this upcoming parent and teen webinar on the 30th March - mark your calendar - it's definitely one where I considered turning it into a paid event.
Super-practical and full of my top strategies. But, to be honest, I want to run a parent and teen free event first before I potentially switch to paid AND really, really honestly, I don’t want to spend the time and effort on setting up all the payment stuff. Having a paid event is never just as straight forward as just setting up a payment page online. There’s a lot of connecting and linking between that and the registration and all the backend admin and webinar access logistics that also needs to happen, and right now, with the new upgrade
I’m making to deliver this for parents and teens, I just don’t want to add all that to the list. But, I may decide to charge for things like this in future, so definitely make the most of it while I’m keeping it free.
Talking of parent and teen events, today I want to talk about parents' evenings.
Or at least that’s what they used to be called. These days they get given all sorts of titles, parent-teacher meetings, conferences, interviews, … maybe parent-teacher ‘encounters’. Just joking.
And of course, I’m coming at this from a teacher rather than parent perspective.
But I’m hoping that will be helpful for you. Because in my experience at least, what I think often happens is parents and carers sit and listen, while we, the teachers, mostly talk at you and your teen.
And that can obviously be really informative and that’s kind of what you’re there for. BUT, as a teacher, I love it when parents ask me questions and I think there can be a lot of benefits to you as the parent - and I say parent in the meaning of anyone in that role. The parent, the carer, trusted adult, guardian.
I think there can be a lot of benefits to asking some great questions to get some more specific and actionable feedback that will most benefit you and your teen.
Especially if you have a teen who is already doing all the right things...
doing their homework, studying hard for exams. Because that’s often when, you get told about their great results, which maybe you’ll already know about, you might get a nice anecdote about something great they did in class - which ARE for sure wonderful to hear… but then when it comes to advice going forwards, then it is simply ‘keep up the great work’ - which they were probably already planning on doing.
Or it’s things like ‘putting their hand up more in class’ which they have zero intention of doing, or ‘doing some wider reading’ which, if you’ve ever heard me talk about extra research or wider reading before, you’ll know it is VERY low on my list of things I believe students should be doing when it comes to their actual study and results. In fact it barely even makes it onto the list. All good if they’re just interested in a topic and want to find out more for fun, but I won’t get into that right now. You can take a listen to episode 19 for a bit more on that.
So, I’ve come up with 3 questions you could ask at your teen’s next parents' evening that’ll give you tangible take-aways and have you feeling like you actually know what’s going on, without feeling like you’re grilling the teacher. Not that you can’t grill the teacher. In fact, I was totally grilled in literally my first parent’s evening as a newly qualified teacher.
It was by a parent with a child in Y7 in my Geography class and the parent was a high school teacher herself. And she thought that it would be fun to test how good I really was. It felt like I was getting a second interview. She asked me about how I adapted my teaching strategies for different types of learners, how I differentiate tasks and activities, how I cater for different students, and structure my lessons. And although, I have to admit I was a bit taken aback, I actually did relish being able to give my answers to all of that.
It was only after she’d finished her interview (in fact I wonder if she is the reason that they are sometimes called parent-teacher interviews… Hmmm) - It was only at the end that she then said, oh it’s okay, I’m a teacher at so-and-so school and just wanted to see how you all do things over here. I was like, we could’ve started out with that and then had a slightly more laid back chat about it all, but hey. It was all good.
And just to be clear, I actually do really like it when parents ask me questions at parents' evenings. Otherwise it can really feel like I’m talking at you. Which I know I can talk for England so, it’s not a problem, but still, it is nice when a parent or carer asks questions - or at least I like it - as it also means that we have more of a conversation rather than a one-way presentation, I end up sharing information in a different way to the routine that these things kind of evolve into, and we end up discussing something we might not have done otherwise.
So, here are three questions you could ask. And so that you don’t have to try to write them all down while you’re driving, walking, food prepping, or whatever you’re doing while you listen to this - those are just my usual podcast listening times, I’ve made a free PDF download for you with all of the questions, plus a couple of bonus tips too. You can grab it at www.rocksolidstudy.com/39 - that’s the numbers 3 - 9.
I’ll put that link into the show notes so you can go grab it, and then you can have it to refer to whenever your teen’s next parents' evening is.
And the first question is:
What is their current target grade and are they on track to meet it?
This should open up a conversation about not just where they’re at, but also where they’re going. What’s their potential and whether they’re currently meeting it. And give some more opportunity for discussion like maybe the target is higher or lower than you or your teen was thinking and that will certainly be good to know if so. Or, you could dig a bit deeper on how that target has been set.
Okay, the next question is:
Why? Why are they or aren’t they on track. What are they doing successfully and/or what are the areas that need addressing?
This is a way of seeing how they are currently going in classwork, homework and assessments, but I think it gives a more focused way to discuss this rather than just ‘how are they going?’. In particular you could also then take this further in terms of how they’ll be assessed. What type of assessments will there be and then consider what skills they need to succeed. For example, to meet their target this term or this year, will they need to be an excellent essay writer, exam taker, speech maker?
How do the types of tasks relate to how likely they are to achieve their target?
What are their strengths or areas for improvement right now and how do they relate to that?
And then the third question is:
What can we or they do to help them improve?
For example, are there any specific examples of exercises or resources that will help them improve? Or, perhaps consider what 'improvement' means to you and your teen and share that with their teacher. It may not necessarily be about increasing results. Perhaps it's more about keeping the same result, but with less work or stress or time spent to achieve it, for example the teacher may not know that they re-drafted that essay four times and it took them way longer and a ton more stress than it should have.
Or, improvement could mean having your teen be more organised or clear on what they're doing. In which case - blatant plug - make sure you’re on my email list and look out for the invite to the webinar I’m running on Thursday 30th March. But, hey, you could also ask their teacher.
Like I said, be sure to go grab the special freebie I made for this episode with those three questions, plus two extra bonus tips too. You can get it for free at www.rocksolidstudy.com/39.
If you’d like to ask me any questions, or if you wanna grill me, then I’m up for it.
You can always send in your questions to email@example.com
or, bring them along to the webinar - ‘Get Your Busy Teen Organised and Efficient in Their Study’ as I’m going to host an open Q&A at the end.
I hope you find these questions in this episode helpful in getting the most out of your next parents' evening, conversational consult, or any other fun title it’s given, and I hope you have an excellent rest of your week. I’ll meet you back here next week for another episode - no need to book an appointment to meet me - you’ve always got a seat saved right here on the podcast.