Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Parent Conferences 2004

S., an eighth grade girl, called her mother on her cell phone to tell her that I was ready to see them. Her mom was around the corner in the same hallway!


The father of a student called his son, M., on his cell phone to tell him that I was ready to see them. M. was down the hall talking to his friends! When he walked in, I'd just finished telling his father that his son wasn't pushing himself enough.

I asked M., "What do you think I told your father?"

He said, "Put more effort into your homework." Bingo.


Not a single student cried during my parent-teacher conferences this time around. And although there were some unhappy parents and unhappy students, no one screamed or hit anyone in my conferences. Hallelujah! I did see one student of mine crying in the hallway, but she'd just been caught forging her mother's signature more-or-less weekly for the last two months...


Ms. Frizzle: Your son's grade is lower than usual because he got a 1* on a poster project.

Mother (to her son): What happened?

Son (sheepishly): Um, I didn't put my heart into that one.


A parent described coming home to find her daughter sitting hunched over in front of the computer, her homework on her lap, looking up from it every few seconds to check the ten different IM screens she had open at one time.


I love seeing the kids as they look "in the wild" - they show up for conferences in jeans, sweatshirts, anything but the uniform. Some parents make the kids spit & polish for conferences, button-down shirts and their nicest pants.


I love playing "village" to the kids I taught last year, but don't see any more, and to the kids that I teach only for a "minor subject" such as health or P.E. I ask them to show me their progress reports. I ooh and ahh over good grades and demand to know what's going when they get poor grades. That's village as in, "it takes a village...."


This year, we gave out progress reports instead of report cards. This came about because we wanted our marking periods to be of equal length, which they were not when we followed the schedule used by the rest of the city. We are still required to hold conferences on the same days as everyone else, even though we have a month left in the first marking period. Unexpectedly, this was a blessing: I could tell parents that their children still have a month left to improve their grades before the final grades are reported.


It's over. Thank goodness!

*We grade on a 1 to 4 rubric - 1 is "far below the standard". Ouch.


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