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Rendezvous with parents: A recipe to be a success at Parents teachers Meeting

If you are a teacher, this piece of writing is surely a recipe to handle parents. On the other hand, if you are an administrator, it will be of no use to you; you will regret reading it because you are helpless. If you are a student, just close the document, it’s not for you. It is not be used to make fun of adults. If you are parent, like me, I am sorry it is like looking at a mirror, however distorted you think it is. So, for all bon voyage!

Parent teacher meeting is one of the most interactive events in schools. Every year, teachers prepare for PTMs while collecting data, attendances, progress checkpoints, what and what not. Many teachers take it as an opportunity to meet the parents and a true picture about the progress of the child. For me, it’s an opportunity to know the parents: thus the kid’s background.

The only thing that bothers me on PTM is my table that looks like a stall. I feel like selling something, while telling the qualities of my product, its pros and corns, satisfying customers and seeing my fellow teacher in the same room with better stalls. During free minutes, I am not free but busy in counting parents meeting my peer teacher, listening to the conversations next to my ‘stall’, getting some more words, proverbs, examples for my next customers,; hence, stealing some words from my peer teachers. I think at this time it’s legal to steal some words from your friend’s conversation to make your customers happy.

After spending many useful and useless years in education, today, I feel I am good at PTM. Actually I know very well how to deal with parents. I think I ought to publish a manual of rules and safety precautions for PTM, so -you -my fellow teachers can actually enjoy these meetings, and  you guys  can begin  and finish it with the same motivation you start   with.

In my observation, following are some of the major kinds of sub-specie of phylum “Parenta” that ayou can encounter anytime, and if you know their psychology and their intentions you are the ‘knight’ of the battlefield.

1. The hookers: This type is awesome, they just hook you. No matter how much data and evidences you have to tell, you are lost for a moment. They are decent, have all the knowledge about the world, can talk on anything, give you marvelous suggestions about your personal and professional life (if you allow them to stretch their boundaries). They know how to hook you and they are really well dressed, soft spoken but quickly switch their topics. At times dealing with them, you feel lost and don’t remember from where you had started.

Relax; they just came to you for their own catharsis. Don’t interrupt them, this will annoy them. Let them finish, if they don’t; then don’t mind. They have a complete recorded version and they will tell the same to every teacher. Praise them a lot and make them realize that they are the most amazing parents on planet. Start slow with them, don’t use metaphors. They will be offended if you used some quotations. Show them that you learned a lot from them. In fact it is better to just them report card and save your skin. They are already very learned so they will draw the conclusions themselves.

2. The Sadists: This typical sub specie always tries to catch faults in the kid without considering any other factor. Then with very sad face, they curse their fate, system, government, school, kid, and everyone except themselves. They believe that all the world problems are due to their kids or this planet is not suitable for their kids.

Beware; you must make a sad face and show empathy, otherwise they will count you as one of the problematic factors. They want someone to pull them up from their grief and show sympathy. Show it. Give them the right picture but keep your flash lights off. Don’t make them cry. Easy way is to discredit their kid and friends for weak areas and give credit of every good progress to them. Things will go smooth.

3. The outdated: This sub specie is overwhelming these days. They compare their days of student life with their kid. They hate technology as this is a major source of distraction for their kids. They hate mobile but give you their cell number at the end. They don’t like internet but will give you their email to update them. They think today’s customs and norms are rubbish and their time was better.
Alert: Take their side, it’s better to pretend that you belong to their age than defending technology and come to the point. They are really easy to handle; curse technology, Facebook, whats app, and everything which involves any slight artificial intelligence and bring them to the point. Throw every bad thing on the shoulders of present era and every good thing in the lap of divine powers. You will feel comfortable.

4. The tigers: This specie is born to bully the teachers. This specie thinks that their kid is a super natural human and born to perform 111% in all tests of life. They don’t mind targeting anyone to blame for low marks. They always come with ‘loaded guns’. One such mother asked me “Can you explain why my kid lost three marks in a class test?” My reply was “Yes I can” and looked at her. She got confused and while being furious said, “Ok then do it”. I showed the test, showed my detailed feedback and told her that the kid did mistake in calculating a value on calculator. She looked at me with terror and asked “What if he did the same mistake in the final examinations? Do you take the responsibility that he will not do it again?” That day, I had enough reason to commit suicide, but I calmly replied “Look I have told your kid that this is the mistake, and this is the way to use calculator, I hope he won’t do it again” .But that tiger mother was on my nerves: “so you won’t take responsibility …….blah blah blah” She actually didn’t say word “blah” but this is my assumption. Finally she proved me the most irresponsible person on this planet, threatened that she will talk to school administration. The second most irresponsible human was her kid and she loudly announced that she is going to snatch every facility of life from her kid. Although she mentioned some irresponsibility of her husband as well, but I am not interested in third position, as I was on the victory stand.

Beware: This is the most dangerous sub specie. They are not there to listen about the progress but hunt for mistakes. Don’t argue with them. Accept your fault, say sorry and move on. Accept that this tiger cub kid is totally your responsibility.

5. The “By the ways”: This is innocent specie. Neither divine, nor themselves had any intentional effort behind having kids. They are always in a state of shock on having kids.  They are “by the way” parents and keep kid’s soul. They will come to you with a smiling face, keep on sitting and listening to you with any further expressions, more interested in the décor of your table (I called it stall). While listening to you, keep on looking at soft boards, walls or the hanging clock. They listen to everything and once you finish; they say “thank you” and move to next table.

Cheer: they are a blessing. Don’t break their hearts. Don’t try to make them speak; remember they are “by the ways”. Tell them things calmly and keep your volume low. This specie learns more when you mimic. Don’t be loud and too blunt with them. They are actually harmless.

6. The Parents: This is the most endangered sub specie. I always wait for them, and find few. They love their kids by being empathetic. They believe in two way communication and don’t look for the shoulders to cry or throw all trash. That was a cherish moment for me when a father said “I don’t want to see the result card. Tell me, being a teacher how deep is my kid’s understanding in your subject” I could explain him different facets comfortably of the kid’s progress, discussed how we can support the kid in weak areas, analyzed what factors and psychological hindrances might be a friction in his way, his natural inclinations and every possible aspect. These parents belong to growth mindset as they believe in mistakes as a fundamental property of humans. They don’t yell, curse, be sad or don’t beat their chests, but stand with dignity to support their kid. They believe that education is much more than everyday class testing and it is holistic.

Love them: They need your support. Tell them every single thing from the heart and sincerity. They are the Parents.

Umair Qureshi
Beacon House
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