Saturday, October 12, 2013

Parent-Teacher Interviews for Twins

About a year ago, I was using an online scheduling program that our local elementary school was utilizing in order to book meetings with our twins’ senior kindergarten teacher. I chose two meeting times, back-to-back with the teacher, for each of our twins. A warning then came up on my computer screen suggesting that I should leave at least fifteen minutes in between appointments so that I would have adequate time to make it to the second one. My immediate reaction was that this computer program was not set up with twins in mind, despite this normally being sound advice. I ignored the suggestion and kept my two appointments, one right after the other.

Since both my wife and I are elementary teachers, we have been on the other side of the meeting table many times, looking into the faces of parents. But these interviews were our first opportunity to do so as a parent, particularly with boy and girl twins in the same class. Booking the interviews is probably the first thing that you will be doing. The best way to think about the interviews is to treat them as you would with any two siblings. Even if your children had the same French teacher, for example, you would still want each interview to be separate. And if your twins have the same teacher, be sure to book two separate times, even if they do back on to each other. Otherwise, always allow a few minutes to go from one interview to the next, because teachers do sometimes fall behind their schedule despite best intentions.

Each school will have its own set up for interviews, and some will include the child. It is not uncommon for chairs to be left out for the next set of parents and their child to sit and wait outside the classroom. If this is the case, then it is a good idea for your twins (or any other sibling) to bring a book to read, or a hand held video game console (on mute) and to wait outside the door. Take my word, along with other teachers, when we say that having any sibling in the interview is usually not a good idea. The brother or sister can be very distracting, and really should not be a party to the conversation between you, your child, and the teacher. If you must bring in the twin sibling, make it clear beforehand that each child is to read quietly and not get involved with the other twin’s interview.

If you are having back-to-back interviews with the same teacher, try to discuss each twin separately, and avoid comparisons. Treat the interviews as individual ones, just as you treat your twins as separate and unique people. I would suggest bringing your child’s report card with you and writing any questions you have on sticky notes located near the item you are asking about. The teacher may offer his or her own comparisons of your twins, and if he or she does, try to ignore them, and redirect the conversation back on the twin you are discussing. And, try to keep track of the time so that you can spend as equal an amount as possible on each of your twins’ scholastic issues. Hopefully, these tips will be helpful when it comes time to discuss each of your twin children’s educational progress.

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