The Parents' Evening
The parent representatives invite their class parents to the Parents' Evening. The evening can be held whenever necessary, but at least once per term (Hessian Schools Act § 107 para. 2). All parents are invited (including the parents of full aged pupils). The class teacher typically joins the evening as well. In agreement with the parents, other people may be invited (e.g., students, subject teachers, or administration). Parent evenings should be carefully prepared and organized in advance.
If no date was selected at the previous parents' evening, the school parent council can select a date. The date should be coordinated with the class teacher and possibly with administration. One should pay particular attention that no other event that may discourage parents from participating coincides on the same evening (i.e., local celebrations, football games, etc.).
The evening’s agenda should be communicated to the parents in the invitation. If topics were not already chosen at the previous parents’ evening, then discussions with the class teacher or other parents can provide a source of topics of interest. Sometimes it can also be useful to invite a key school member to speak on certain school-related issues.
Although it is difficult to estimate the duration of a presentation, a report, or the discussion of a specific topic, an exact time for the individual agenda items should always be placed. The time for reports or presentations should be as short as possible, while generous time for discussion should be allowed. It is also advisable not to present a parents’ evening as an "open-end" event, but rather to agree at the beginning of the meeting on an end time that is acceptable to all, especially for working parents.
The invitation to the parents' evening should be sent at least ten days prior to the evening. The invitation is generally distributed at school to the children to be delivered to parents. Even if everything has been agreed upon with the class teacher, he/she should also receive a written invitation. The invitation should include the date, location and agenda.
The Seating Arrangement
If the classroom tables and chairs are in rows behind each other, then they should be arranged in either a circular, rectangular or horseshoe shape, preferably at the beginning of the evening. To ensure that all parents know who is speaking at any time, it is recommended that name cards on a large folded paper be placed on the table before each attendee. A parents' meeting can also take place outside the school. Problems with the seating arrangement will then probably not be an issue.
Attendance Register and Log
After greeting the parents, the representatives circulate an attendance list and present the agenda. Any requested changes to the agenda must be voted on in order to make the amendment. The minutes of the evening should be taken to record important information and agreements. This should be done by a parent since the parent representative is responsible for leading the evening.
One of the parent representatives shall serve as the meeting moderator. He/she should focus on two main points: first, to ensure that the time for each topic is evenly distributed. The class teacher should not be expected to be the main speaker. Secondly, each of the agenda items should be covered. This requires the representative to encourage discussion on each point, and likewise, prevent anyone from lingering on a point too long.
The most important issues and decisions arising from the parents’ evening shall be recorded in the minutes.
The closing remarks should be made by the parent representatives. They should summarize the results and, when possible, agree on the date for the next parents evening with those in attendance.
Distribution of the meeting minutes, as well as follow-up on any decisions/action items should be done.