Friday, November 8, 2013

One More Conference (Dear Katie V2 #11)

Dear Katie,

One of the things college will not prepare you for is Parent/Teacher Conferences.  I always find it difficult to talk about my students with their parents.  Often, Im not sure what information they want me to share.  Typically, I am talking with parents non-stop for 2 hour sessions.  This year, my district decided not to give us a half day, so I taught a full day, then went straight into conferences for two hours, had a hour and a half break (it was supposed to be two hours, but some parents scheduled to come in between 3:30 and 4 showed up closer to the 4 o'clock time), and then two more hours of parents.

At the end of a long, tiring day I was told the last parent listed in the 7:30-8 o'clock block had not shown up.  I was preparing to leave when at my door was a mother and father who I had seen talking to other teachers earlier in the night.  I figured they didn't need to speak with me (their child is an A student).  They had made a point to come back and speak with me.  What could this mean?

One more conference.

I was dragging.  I left that morning before dawn, while your aunt and cousins were sleeping, I was hoping to get home and at least see them awake for a few minutes.  Parents coming back to speak with me couldn't be good.  Would they complain that their child received a "B" on a group project?  Would they "lash out" because I refuse to review where places are on a map before a quiz because I want the student to research information on the Internet rather than me spoon feeding all information to them?  Are they going to complain that an A wasn't good enough?  I was in no mental shape to spar with any angry and complaining parents.

One more conference.

One more time I rose from my chair to forcing a smile to break across my face as the husband and wife strolled across my room to my desk.

"Hello, Kevin Cullen, I teach history"

One more conference.

They introduced themselves and we all sat down.  They were new to the district and came to tell me how happy they were at their child's progress in my class.  They validated not only my teaching style but the subject matter.  The wife told me how she was telling her colleagues at work how I took the time to explain and allow the students to think how pervasive social studies is involved in everyday life.  They were happy I gave the students a solid rationale for a social studies education.  Her co-workers responded how boring their children found social studies and she explained how much fun her son was having in my class. She told her co-workers, "My son's social studies teacher is brilliant!".

They then talked about how pleased they were of the school, "______________ was just one of many kids at his old school, here it seems like his teachers really KNOW him."

One more conference.

As our conference concluded, my energy was revived.  The fatigue that had settled in from a day that began at  5am and wouldn't end until I returned home at 9pm dissipated.  The thoughts of any bad conferences I had that day retreated to the far reaches of my mind.  A smile broke across my face as I turned off the light to my room.  All this because my long day was extended by

One more conference.

Uncle Kevin 

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