Conference night is one of the most important days of the school year for teachers. I remember when I first started teaching, I was so nervous before my first conference night. Thank goodness that the school that I taught at did their conferences as a group, with all of the teachers together with the parents, so I had some good models to help me along. The thing is, by the time the kids get to middle school, the parents are not surprised by what you tell them because they have probably heard it before. Most of the time, the problem is organization (those poor little 6th graders are just so unorganized with all their stuff from all their classes!) One other thing is that you could go all year without meeting the parents of the really good kids, which is too bad! This week I had to sit in both chairs; the teacher chair and the parent chair.
First came my conference night, and I held 17 conferences in 2 1/2 hours. It was overwhelming, but by now I am an old pro at this conference night thing. I always start with what my students are doing right and then put together an action plan to help them improve their grades.
Two major signs that you know it is time to set up a parent/teacher conference are:
1) You have not heard anything from the school all year and when you ask your kid if they have homework, they say "no".
2) You can add their percentages together in all their classes, and your child is still not passing.
As a teacher, I know when it is time to wrap up the conference when:
1) The parents start yelling at their kid in English and end up in another language.
2) The parents, or student (or I) start crying.
3) There are 4 more parents lined up at the door waiting.
Later this week, sitting in the hot seat at my daughter's school, I was ready to hear that she talks too much and needs to improve her math and spelling. I was also prepared to confess that I let her do her homework by herself and fail to quiz her on her spelling words and addition facts most nights. Well, come to find out, she is above level in just about everything, especially reading, and they are thinking about testing her for gifted classes. I was so surprised that I was almost in tears, so her teacher wrapped it up!