Saturday, September 12, 2015

Sharles' Study Abroad Blog: Parent Night


Parent night at De Klinker was an insightful experience.  Having taken part in parent teacher conferences in the States I had some experience to various family relations.  There, parents would sign up for a certain time slot to discuss their child’s progress in the classroom.  The teacher would have a one on one conversation about their child.  Aspects of the students performance would be discussed and what measures should be taken to improve the educational experience.  However, in this new environment I had no prior knowledge of how the experience would take shape.  Questions arose in my mind as to how the night would progress.  Would parents come in as they do in the states, or would the strategy be totally different?

Much like the states, this night was dedicated to the parents and family members of each child. Parents of the children attending came out and visited their child’s classroom. However, instead of one on one appointments, the teachers invited all the parents and family members into their room at one time. The teachers created a display of materials that the students would be working with this year. They also compiled works that the children had already completed. The parents had open opportunity to join in the conversation and to ask any questions or verbalize concerns. Afterwards, there was coffee and tea available that created a open, social aroma.  There were also stations set up for other curricular areas.  Such area’s included music, gymnastics, and the English table.

As the night began, parents would enter the building through the main doors shown above. They would pass by the English station often asking questions in Dutch. I would communicate to them that I was American and unfortunately I only speak English. Everyone was very polite and would begin speaking English so that I could understand. It was interesting to talk with some of them as they assumed I was a replacement English teacher. Some children had told their families that there was a new English teacher visiting their rooms.  he regular instructor is on leave and won’t be back for a couple months. I went on to explain that I was simply an intern and that I would be visiting the classrooms in order to aide in their instruction.

Many times the conversations turned to details about where I was from and how long I would be staying.  At this point, I was able to personally get to know some of the parents and their children in small group interactions. We would talk about certain aspects of the students and the curriculum. The parents could see from my willingness to prepare and participate in Parent Night that I had a certain amount of care for their child’s education.

The families may now be able to better associate their child’s English educational experiences with me. This is the first stage of building trust and positive relationships that will ultimately impact my effectiveness as a professional educator. Positive communication with families will only prove to benefit everyone involved. It would have been much different if I had not been present to meet the families or if I had simply not tried to start conversations even though I was aware of the language difference.

I am very thankful to have been a part of Parent Night at De Klinker. This experience has enabled me to begin creating beneficial relationships with not only the students, but also their families. I must thank the school, and the staff  for inviting me to Parent Night. I also want to thank each family member for creating such a welcoming atmosphere. I look forward to having many more experiences such as this one.

NOTE: This post originally appeared on Sharles' personal blog:

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