New Course Maps
My school, EF Shijiazhuang, has been implementing a new course layout over the past couple months. On the 18th lesson, a parent to teacher meeting is arranged in order to discuss the students’ progress and goals. These meetings are quite beneficial for both the teachers and the parents because there is direct communication and the expectations for both parties are discussed. While the teacher meets with the parents, a local staff member conducts a review lesson with the students.
There is quite a bit of work to be done when planning for a PTM. There is an entire premade lesson plan that the teacher and local staff must coordinate in executing. First, I had to create a Jeopardy Review Game to practice the previous half of the book. Then, I copied and printed a variety of different review worksheets and discussion activities for the students. This aspect of the PTM was just the first part of the process.
The hard work began next. I had to fill out a progress update form for each and every student, which numerically categorizes their abilities in reading, writing, speaking, listening, behavior, participation, and homework. After filling out the form, I had to write about the students’ strengths, weaknesses, and ways to improve in and out of the classroom. This form is quite important because it gives the teacher a starting off point when talking with the parents. Fortunately, I only have six students in this class so the progress update did not take nearly as long as it could have.
The 18th lesson
I was quite nervous the day of the PTM. This is the time to actually hear raw feedback about my performance and growth as a teacher from the parents’ perspective. The first ten minutes of the class, I talked to the students and told them I would be gone for the first hour. I left the classroom and went to meet one of the local staff so that she could translate for me. I felt that it would be somewhat awkward to be talking to parents through another person but there was no other way this could work.
I met with six different parents for the next hour and a half and it was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I actually got a lot of positive feedback that truly uplifted my spirits and reminded me that what I was doing was important. There was one parent that was not very happy about my way of running the class. She is the parent of the only boy in the class and she had the most negative feedback. The main focus of her disagreement was my policy on homework. She stressed that I am not as forceful or strict on homework as I should be. She was somewhat correct in her argument, however, in my mind, these middle school aged kids have so much homework and stress coming from their Chinese schools that I do not deem it necessary to drop the hammer on them in their private studies of English. I agreed to give them more homework because ultimately, the parents are the ones paying. Besides her, I only received very positive feedback. The common consensus from the rest was that their girls really looked up to me and think my class is entertaining.
This one father told me that although he had never met me, he knew all about me. He said that his daughter, Lucy, always comes home from class and tells him and his wife about me and the stories I tell in class. He said that I truly sparked her craving for English and made it relevant to her everyday life. To her, English was not merely a class to get a good grade in but rather a tool to sharpen that can be used in the rest of her life. I really felt captivated by what he was telling me. Though I am still learning how to be an effective English teacher, I am still getting through to the kids and helping them realize the importance of learning English. I am much more satisfied having heard this, than something related to how their grammar is much better because of me. I think that gaining interest is more important than new vocabulary words or grammar points. With interest, comes determination.
Benefits of Feedback
Parent to teacher meetings are very beneficial for both parties. I had the benefit of hearing what the parents wanted to change, and they got to hear my analysis of their kids’ performance in class. I think that these meetings are necessary for the growth of an English speaker and a great way to keep everybody on the same page.