Learning the parent teacher night lingo

IT’S July already, and that means once again it is parent teacher interview season.
Nanjing Night Net

Parents can rejoice in the moment that note comes home next week with the little box checked, interview required – yes.

With this many children (half a dozen plus one, in case you’re just getting to know me), I am fast becoming a professional at the art of the parent teacher interview.

I’m fairly sure I’m every teacher’s nightmare, especially when I pull out an iPad full of my notes and questions, but that is a whole other story for next time.

What parents of first time kindergarten kids may not realise, is that teachers have a finely tuned turn of phrase. A language, if you’ll humour me, that they have crafted especially for use on parents. I think it’s a subject in their bachelor of education; ‘How to talk to parents so they won’t throw a chalk duster at you 101’.

Carefully worded statements with a hint of praise will be used in place of saying something negative about your child. These are questions in disguise, and let’s face it, why have you been summoned to the school on a cold winter’s evening?

If you think it’s to be showered with praise about your “model” child, then this probably isn’t going to be your night. Prepare for an evening of awkward explanations and uncomfortable silences, as you figure out what to say next. Feeling like it’s you who is in trouble and have been sent to the principal’s office, and wondering if our own parents felt the same way.

While I don’t have the answers, I believe can help parents new to this with some translation of the parent teacher interview language for you.

Here are a few examples:

“What is he like at home?” translates to; How DO you live with him?

“He is full of energy” – tells you that the teacher simply cannot keep your child in their seat.

“He has interesting tastes” – does not mean you may have an artist on your hands, it means that glue, glitter, sand, the class guinea pig’s food and paint have all been taste-tested by your child.

“She is very creative, and we need to find a way to channel that into something” – for heaven’s sake buy your child some colouring books to do at home, this drawing unicorns on every picture she comes across in any book is getting expensive. The class has been banned from the library.

“She needs to be more focussed on her class work” – when not drawing on library books, she is staring out the window, quite probably daydreaming about drawing horns on ponies.

“We enjoy having him in the class” – your child is more fun to watch in action than the circus.

“He is a very affectionate little boy” – we need to discuss boundaries, and also some parents outside may wish to talk to you.

Lastly there is the phrase “Thanks for coming, it’s lovely to meet you” – yes you made it to the interview and wow you look much more together than we thought you would, especially given what we see from your progeny each day.

Now all you have to do now is maintain the facade, and the illusion is complete.


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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.