All this happened, more or less...

My name is G and these are the true stories of my adventures.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

The Big P/T C

so... let's talk about parent/teacher conferences.

the first time i ever went to a parent/teacher conference was when i was student teaching. my mentor teacher, yvonne, thought it would be a good experience for me to come along and listen in, though i didn't really have much to contribute, since i was just a stupid college kid. (my words, not hers.) we sat in her classroom all evening as the parents filtered through and asked about how their little susie or billy or whoever was doing in english class.

three years later, i don't remember much of that evening. i do remember one parent. she came in, quite flustered, sat down, pulled out her daughter's progress report, and burst into tears. TEARS.

for a moment, i thought maybe it was because her child was failing the class.... o no. she had a B. probably even a B+. how unstable of a mother do you have to be to weep in frustration and disappointment over a B? how screwed up will your child be by the time she graduates from college? even the wisest cannot tell.

somehow yvonne talked her down and we all survived the horrifically embarrassing encounter, but i've got to admit: it's sort of tainted my idea of conferences. every time a parent walks up to me, i always think "i wonder if she'll cry. what will i say if she does?"

the building where i work now is absolutely huge, so we don't do conferences in our classrooms. parents just have too much trouble navigating the corridors and hoofing it up and down the four stories worth of stairs. instead we all sit at tables in the gym in alphabetical order and the parents wander around to find us. (incidentally, you'd be surprised how difficult the concept of "alphabetical order" is to a lot of parents.) i was on the lookout for a weeper again this week, but luckily she didn't come.

most of my conferences go well, as i have a lot of high level kids who basically do their work and behave themselves. i was a bit nervous about this year, since i've been out sick -- nervousness spurred primarily by a dire warning i received from a coworker -- but none of the parents took issue with that, and many of them were genuinely concerned about my health. (i've got to remind myself to stop listening to warnings from people who don't have the same charisma points i have. parents friggin' love me.)

at any rate, i did have a couple awkward encounters i want to share with you.

the first was a darling little mexican woman whose son is in one of my writing classes. she sat down and we exchanged pleasantries for a moment. i told her that her son is delightful to have in class -- great sense of humor, really neat kid. then i pulled out his grade report and gave her the bad news. he's not failing. he has a "0%". that's right. he has NO grade in my class because he has turned in absolutely, positively, not one blessed piece of work all year. i know he does his work. i sit there and watch him do it. then i go grade the stack of papers and he never, ever, even accidentally turns anything in. *shrug* i dunno what you want from me, lady.

only a few minutes later, another mom sits down and asks how her daughter is doing in my class. well, i say, i had her last year, so i know her pretty well, and i'm sure she'd be doing fine in the class if she was ever IN the class, but she's not. ever. i haven't seen her in two weeks. at least. she's been marked absent every day and you should be getting phone calls from the attendance office every day. mom looks puzzled. "she leaves the house every morning..." well, yeah, they all leave the house every morning. they don't all come to school.

but the true delight of parent/teacher conferences comes the next day. the "0%" kid hands me a folder with every assignment for the entire year in it, all beautifully done. the truant kid shows up at last, grumbling about how i "hoed" her out to her momma.

:-) i love my job.

1 comment:

Q said...

That actually sounds like fun. My son is only three, but he'll most likely end up going to public schools in Japan. I know this will something of an adventure for me as an American parent, but part of me would like to (believe it or not) interface with the American school system as a parent. But who knows, high school is still many years off.