Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Parent Teacher Conference

Starting last week I officially took over teaching one of our classes full time. This means that I am now responsible for everything from planning to grading and, perhaps even scarier, my CT is no longer in the room with me. Needless to say, the students have been testing me and I've had some pretty rough days. Yesterday I was fed up (again) and I said that the next person to get sent out of the room was getting sent to the counseling office with a referral. N., who I had already told multiple times during the period to stop talking and go back to his seat, got up to pull down the window shade and when it wouldn't go, he started banging it against the wall. I sent him out, feeling completely guilty because he wasn't being that "bad" and I was really just making an example of him. Fortunately for my conscience and unfortunately for everything else, my guilt was quickly relieved when he yelled "This is hella gay!" as he stormed out.

Then the fun part: Last night I got an email from my CT saying that the 9th grade counselor had called N.'s mother and she would be coming in this morning to meet with me. My CT wouldn't be there, and the counselor would only be there part of the time--they felt it would be a good time for me to establish myself as the teacher. Great.

Why do parents scare me so much? I told myself over and over that this was the perfect opportunity to get N. back on track--he's a super-smart kid, but his grades have been slipping because he goofs off all the time and doesn't get his work finished. Parents invariably want their kids to succeed, which is the exact same thing I want for them. We're on the same team, so why the fear? I guess it's hard to feel like I have much of value to tell a parent when I'm closer to their child's age than to theirs, and when I don't feel like I have any expertise in the first place.

Of course the meeting went well. N.'s mom never questioned my judgment or what I was telling her about her son. It was not the first time a teacher had told her that he talks too much in class. We both focused on how when I tell him to do something, it's because I'm trying to help him, so he needs to accept that help. I made sure to bring up the many things that I like about N. (and I think his mom was pleased to hear that). Everything centered around how we could support him. It was all very textbook.

N. was awesome in class today. The true test for him will be to see if it lasts. But the true test for me will be to see if how much I freak out next time I have a parent meeting.


Jen of A2eatwrite said...

You know, there will be good meetings and less good ones and even the occasional horrendous one. For some kids, and this may be one of them, showing that you care enough to call the kid out and meet with his/her parent can show that you're willing to go the extra distance and sometimes can turn that kid around for you. It's all dependent on the relationship they have with their parents, too, of course. Man, I shouldn't comment when I'm tired.

Also, when you have a second (ha!) could you please drop me an e-mail at jenshaines at aol dot com? I have some info I want to pass on to you and can't do it here.

SWE said...

In spite of the stress, it's awesome that your CT has you interacting with parents. My Evil CT insisted that I not "interfere" with her with parents, and it was nearly impossible to accomplish what I wanted to because of it. I'm glad (and not at all surprised) that it went well!

LInda said...

Parents scare the teachers who are 30 year pros. You never can quite tell where they will be coming from. The good thing is that most parents just want to help their child--exactly what you want. (I learned this from Jennifer many years ago.) If you go into it expecting the best and preparing for the worst, you should do well and leave satisfied at least 75% of the time, maybe more.
Well, done.

Roni said...

I'm right on the same page with you. I didn't have the pleasure of meeting parents when I was student teaching though, so I'm going to give you extra points on the "going for it" meter.

Parent teacher nights here are extremely frightening. I get 5 minute slots that last for 3 hours in a row, parent after parent after parent. Even when I prepare and meet with the parents of those kids that are genuinely good students, I never quite know what to say. I'm not alone, though, as pretty much all teachers feel either useless ("Your son is doing fine. Any questions?") or validated ("Yes, Mrs. So-and-so, this is a sample of your son's typical homework assignment. This is why he's failing. Any questions?"). Sometimes things get abusive but that's what management/administration is for.

Nothing but goodness can come from meetings though. It's good for everyone involved to know where everyone else is coming from. Even the students. It makes teaching so much easier.

Congrats on successfully navigating the Parent-Teacher-Student
Meeting. Have a beer and relax. You've earned it!

Teana said...

not to worry, my friends who have been teaching for a few years are still somewhat iffy when it comes to parent-teacher meetings. you never know what kind of parent you're going to get. but i'm glad to hear yours went well.