Thursday, November 20, 2008

"So, let's dish about your kid!"

Despite the fact that Wednesday is normally my light and easy day, I had no time at school to do anything, got home late and fell asleep on my laptop before I could post a blog entry.

That kind of day is exactly what I’m trying to avoid now that soccer is done.

Yesterday’s schedule was unavoidable, though, because it was parent/teacher conference day at my school. We have classes until noon, then meet with parents at short intervals until 5pm. Whenever I have meetings like this, the first thing I need to do is put my classroom back into some semblance of order (my space gets used for several different things during the day, and often looks like a train wreck, even after the custodians have made their passes). Once I’ve found the floor, I need to review grades for the students I’m talking about (I do grade book updating on a 4 week cycle, and these meetings hit a tad early) and check my notes to make sure my mental impressions of things like class participation and extra are accurate to what they’re doing now (that might sound like overkill, but it is a bad thing to find out during a conference that you’ve been thinking of the wrong kid’s work). Finally, I print out their tracking sheets (in essence, their grades as far as I have them) so parents can actually see what the kids are doing and where they are in the continuum of the course.

I know a lot of teachers have high stress about this time because of the number of parents they meet, but I rather enjoy it. I always like to share with parents the awesome job their kids are doing! Even if they’re not doing very well, the chance to collaborate together with students and parents about what can be done to encourage success often yields a lot of positive strategies. The thing I appreciate most about these meetings, as they take place in my school, is they are not adversarial. Parents don’t come to my school to complain about how their kids are being treated, to argue grades or challenge the competency of the teachers. They come out of a sincere interest to support their children in a school that is heavily invested in seeing them succeed well.

Yesterday’s meetings went well. The vast majority of my students are in good shape at this point in the semester, and the parents I saw confirmed that their kids are excited and interested in the class. Most of them are doing their daily practice of the language, they’re taking the chances to speak and play with the language when they have them, and the 8th graders I have this year are meeting very well the challenges of the high school curriculum. It’s been a really good year so far! I’m excited to ride the wave for as long as it runs!

I’ll be honest, though. I’m looking forward to a week off. I need a couple of days to breathe.

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