Saturday, November 3, 2007

open school night

Long week.
Open school night Tuesday and as usual for me, I left with the last group to exit the building. I did not hold the final conference on the sidewalk in front of the school, something I have done in the past, but still by the time I got in the car only 11 hours remained until the beginning of the next school day.

I mentioned to my daughter, the new young teacher was a really hard worker and a good teacher but she talked a lot.
"That's a good description of you," my daughter responded
At least she thinks I'm a good teacher.
Perhaps that explains why I am the last to leave.

Keep a tissue box on the table.
Don't sit at your desk.
And always start with Carl Anderson's famous line for conferences, "how's it going?"

That's my sum total of advice for parent/teachers conference.

It's likely someone is going to cry.
The first open school night of my life a parent ranted and raved her thirteen year old son could neither add nor subtract because I was, at best a boring teacher. At worst I was just a bad teacher.
I took her comments to heart and cried all the way home.
The next morning, a colleague mentioned, that assuming the mom was right, what explained Jr.'s failure to learn basic operations in the previous six years.
The thought had not occurred to me.

One year I showed a Mom a piece a third grader had written about wanting to be a butterfly, so she could fold her mother under her wings and fly away home to the Caribbean.
The mother burst into tears.
I was caught in the beauty of an eight year's old poetic image.
The mother was caught in a bad marriage in an alien city.

So I always keep tissues on the table. And I sit across a student's desk, rather my own. Makes it feel like less of a power struggle and I don't have to hide the piles of paper.

And I start with the question. "How do you think its going?"
At least the parent will get the opportunity to get a word in edgewise.

As parent teacher conferences go- this was a good one. Maybe excellent.
No one cried.

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