Insightful questions to ask teachers at end-of-year interviews

19 November 2018

Insightful questions to ask teachers at end-of-year interviews

  • Learning/Education
by Michael Grose

An informative parent-teacher interview can give you a wonderful insight into your child’s academic performance, work attitude and social abilities. It can provide valuable information to assist your child next year to continue his or her improvement in the following year.

Prepare yourself before your interview so you can maximise the time you spend with your child’s teacher. These insightful questions will help.

Work and attitude

Is my child’s overall academic performance on track?
Expect to know how your child has performed in all curriculum areas according to expectations for his age and stage. Use age expectations as your benchmark, avoiding peer and sibling comparisons.

What do the results mean?

Sometimes school-based assessments, and the language used in reporting can be difficult to understand in lay-person’s terms. If unsure, ask for clarification of results in general terms without getting lost in the minute detail.

Does my child need help in any areas?

It helps to know if your child is falling behind in a particular subject or set of skills so you can formulate an improvement plan.

How can I help at home?

There may be specific things to do at home to help your child such as extra reading, giving more responsibility or special home activities that you can think about for the following year.

What are my child’s strengths?

If a child is struggling, then identifying his or her strengths will boost your confidence and provide valuable information to work with.

Does my child try hard at school?

Understanding your child’s attitude to work is important to form a rounded picture. Some kids perform to a good standard but don’t exert themselves. Others work hard to achieve more modest results. Effort matters.

Does my child complete most of his tasks?

If the answer to this question is no, then explore possible reasons with the teacher. Was the work too hard? Does your child have a problem finishing work? Does he get easily distracted?

When does my child produce his best work?

Some kids work better on their own; some love to work in groups; some love repetitive work; others love creative tasks; some excel outside the classroom; and some love working in specific subjects. Knowing your child’s strengths and interests will help provide a positive direction for the following year.

Behaviourally, socially and emotionally

Has my child been happy at school?

A child’s well-being is a good indicator of their academic success, their attitude to learning and to school. Be aware that many factors can impact a child’s well-being, but getting the teacher’s perspective is extremely helpful.

How has my child behaved this year?

Ask for a snapshot of your child’s in-class and playground behaviour including how he behaves for other teachers and his behaviour toward his peers.

What messages should I give my child at home about their behaviour?

Teachers generally have a valuable perspective about your child’s behaviour based on experience and broad behavioural norms. Use this perspective to guide your child toward positive behaviours in the following year.

How does my child get along with others?

How a child interacts socially inside and outside the classroom will help give you a well-rounded picture. It’s also an area that may need to be addressed in the following year with your child’s teacher, should problems be identified.

Other questions

Did anything surprise you about my child this year?

The answer to this open-ended question may provide you with a delightfully different insight into your child’s year at school.

What advice do you have for helping my child improve in any area we’ve discussed?

You don’t want to leave an interview feeling overwhelmed with areas that need improving, but it’s useful to identify one or two areas of focus for the coming year.

Do you have any further advice or information for me?

This is another open-ended question that could provide an unexpected, even important insight into your child.

This list of questions is a guide only. Choose your own questions according to what you’d like to know. Be prepared, be friendly and be prepared to take the teacher’s feedback on board and the interview is sure to go well.

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Michael Grose

Michael Grose, founder of Parenting Ideas, is one of Australia’s leading parenting educators. He’s the author of 10 books for parents including Thriving! and the best-selling Why First Borns Rule the World and Last Borns Want to Change It, and his latest release Spoonfed Generation: How to raise independent children.