I was talking with the teachers this morning about why we run the dialogues in the way that we do.
In the past my experience has been that all the teachers are in the hall with name tags on the front of their desks. The parents book in for 5 - 10 minutes. If you are an English teacher you can have up to 100 parents coming on one night ( if everybody comes). The parents are supposed to book, most do but the ones who don't often jump the queue and that makes the others cranky and sometimes difficult to deal with.You have 5-10 minutes to talk about son or daughter (who mostly is not with the parents). After an hour or so things get a bit jumbled and it is easy to confuse one Stephen with another (I say Stephen because that's a true story. I remember going cold at the horror of it). When the ordeal is over the comments start, " Of course we only see the parents we don't need to see. All the parents we should see just don't bother to turn up"etc etc I WONDER whether the outcome is that the students whose parents have turned up are now more advantaged than before because of the relationship that the teacher has now experienced with the parents and at the same time the students whose parents have not turned up are more disadvantaged because the teacher has more justification for assuming that the students are not achieving because of lack of parental support.
SO the learning dialogues are a genuine attempt to remove all that craziness.The parents make an appointment with the tutorial teacher only and the dialogue which lasts between 20 and 30 minutes is an opportunity for the students to present their learning to both parents and the tutor and then for all parties to agree to the goals required for the student to achieve success for the year. This year we have made the dialogues compulsory. If the parents are unable to come then the students are able to choose another teacher to step in as parent and then the outcomes are sent home. The high stakes dialogue cannot be sidestepped by any student.
It will be interesting to get feedback from all parties on the effect.