Thursday, March 29, 2007

Top ten list

Top ten things NOT to do during a parent/teacher conference:

1) Don't automatically assume the teacher will be able to accommodate your schedule. Remember, you are making one, or two or even three conference appointments, but we are making as many as twenty three. We will try very hard to accomdate you, but please don't get mad at us if we can't. And please, please, confirm your appointment as soon as possible. Not the day before. And if we track you down for the second or even third time to confirm, have the decency to reply.

2) Don't show up late. We know you are busy. You have children, and jobs, and babysitter issues, and car troubles and goodness knows what else. But so does the teacher. We manage to show up on time, with a carefully organized folder of your child's work and a sheet written out about their progress to date. If we can do all that, then please, show up on time.

3) Don't try to read the notes that the teacher has made. We will communicate everything on those notes to you.

4) If the directions from the principal are specific and clearly state that you are NOT to request a teacher for next year by name, then follow the directions. Just like we tell your children, the same rules apply to you that apply to everyone else. Plus, then the teacher is placed in the awkward position of having to explain the entire placement process and inform you that, just like in life, there are no guarantees.

5) Don't assume that we can control things that are far out of our control: such as the arrival of the CMT scores. We have no idea when they'll show up. They are the STATE mastery tests, not the SCHOOL mastery tests. We'll get them the same time you do.

6) Don't tell us it's not our job to handle social problems that arise. First of all, we would never presume to tell you what is and isn't in your job description and secondly, if it happens in the classroom, during the seven and a half hours we are with your child, then it IS our job. Teaching and learning can't happen if children are not able or ready to learn or be taught. So it is very much our job to handle it when your child gets upset because their friend wouldn't play with them at recess.

7) Don't walk into the classroom and poke around the teacher's desk when she isn't in the room. Again, we would never presume to walk into your office and poke through your things. Why would you?

8) Don't keep talking after another parent has knocked on the door TWICE, and the teacher has offered to meet with you at another time to continue the conversation about your child. As mentioned in #1, we are meeting with as many as twenty three parents.

9) Don't ask us to make parenting decisions for you. Some of us aren't even parents yet, nor are we the parents of your child. We don't know if you should buy your child a computer, or if they should watch more or less TV, or if you should discipline them more or less, or any of the other countless parenting decisions you ask us to make. YOU are the parent, you make those decisions.

10) And please, please, please, don't put the teacher in the middle of your marriage spat. Don't tell us to communicate something to your divorced spouse, don't ask us a question in the hopes that our answer will resolve a disagreement you are having, don't flat out tell us you are disagreeing and you want our opinion. That is definitely NOT in our job description.


The Muse said...

I so understand these! My mom taught in the chicago board of education for 35+ years. And every year (as I got older) she would share some of the horror stories of these meetings. Never names or anything, but examples *just* like the ones you have listed here.

I wonder what it is that gives people the right to either treat teachers less than they would their corporate peers, or more like a counselor than the educator of their children?

It's an esteemed position to teach, to fill those tiny little vessels with knowledge. It is neither demeaning or all encompassing, and in the end you're just human, with your own life too.

(sorry for the rant lol, but I SO understand this).

Be well friend

OddMix said...

You know, there are many many reasons I did not become a teacher - other than for my own kids. Crap like this is a big one. Yuck.

At least our parent teacher conferences are easier - even if we do have to administer the standardized tests to our own kids this way.

Anonymous said...

From the looks of this post I might guess that conference days were a bit stressful! You stay so calm and focused. You amaze me. I would request YOU for next year inspite of the rules. :o)
Mom S

Anonymous said...

Sounds like future educators such as myself have some fun things to look forward to in conferences! Your list brings up a lot of good things to think about and be prepared to deal with. Have you thought about possibly preparing a letter explaining proper etiquette at parent/teacher conferences for parents to read beforehand? Some people are rude regardless, but some of it could also just be that a lot of parents don't think about things from a teacher's perspective.

Tina said...

Did someone actually go through your desk??

I have to say that as a parent, I could totally see myself trying to request a specific teacher for my kid, even if I'd been told it was fruitless to request. Parenting makes you pushy. However, irritating as that might be for you, (and clearly it is irritating since it made the list!)after reading the other nine, I'd have to say that it sounds like there are far worse transgressions!

NancyPearlWannabe said...

Oh, the worst is when the parents start arguing with each other during a conference meeting. A friend of mine teaches 4th grade and had a conference like that; after they left the mother tried to run the father over with her SUV. For real. And people wonder why their kids are messed up?

Tara W. said...

As a future educator, I'm sure I will have to deal with these types of situations as well. However, I found your post most helpful as a parent. My oldest son will be going to kindergarten this fall and I'm having a hard time with it! I have been fortunate enough to be home with him since he was born and it's really hard to send my baby out under the care of someone else. I hope that I won't be an overprotective parent, but if I don't look out for his best interest, who will?

Kristin said...

also as a future teacher i found this list very interesting. I'm not really surprised with anything on the list, but i never really thought about parent-teacher conferences. I am glad I read your list and now I realize and am actively thinking about future meetings with parents. Rather than just showing up and having any or all of these happen and me stand there dumbfounded at the parents.

Kelli said...

Lisa, you are missed in the (real) and the blogging world.
I hope you are well.