Thursday, November 15, 2012

What Would You Do? Teacher Conferences Edition

Next week is our first set of conferences for the year. That means I get two 12 hour work days in a row. The payoff? Wednesday, Thursday and Friday off.
I'm going to share with you a few things that actually happened to me during previous years parent teacher conferences. What do you think you would do in each of these situations? (I totally stole this idea from Bonnie. She is a much better blogger than I am.)

1. Let me set the stage for you. I was 24 and teaching PE in a pretty affluent school. A mom of a 6th grade girl came up to me during conferences so upset that her daughter had recieved an F. I was confused, since I was pretty sure her daughter was getting an A. She proceeded to tell me that her daughter got a 2/5 on her football throwing test (an F in the gradebook.) She then went on to tell me what a horrible teacher I was and how I was going to ruin her daughter's educational future and how it was going to be detrimental to her self esteem.

What would you do?
A. Get defensive about how PE is a class, just like math. (I didn't get an A in math for showing up with my pencil did I?)
B. Stammer "she has an A" until the vice principal shows up and whisks the parent away.
C. Change the kids grade to make the parent happy.
D. Other.

I went with B. After the fact, I was "A"ing all over the place. By the way, her kid seemed unphased with the 2/5 score on the one test and was pleased with the A in the class. She also went on to get a 5/5 on her volleyball bump test. We can't all be a quarterback, can we?
Lesson to learn from this: Look at the big picture

2.  After explaining that this year in health we will be talking about puberty (among other units) a parent started to tell me that she was glad I was teaching that because her son (who is in 8th grade) was starting to grow hair "down there" and he was getting erections in the house. Please note that her son was sitting right next to her.

What would you do?
A. Say something like "this is the age for that."
B. Turn bright red
C. Say something like, "this is not an appropriate conversation."
D. Other

Pretty sure B is impossible not to do, but I also tried to brush it off with A. I wanted to run away from the conference with my fingers in my ears yelling "la la la! I can't hear you." (And it almost came to that when the lady wouldn't stop talking about it.)
Take away lesson: Try not to embarrass your son/daughter. No need to bring up their growing bodies. 

3. I believe this was an IEP meeting, or a meeting to see if a student could qualify for special ed services and there were several of his teachers there, as well as a vice principal and the kids parents who were in the middle of a divorce (or recently divorced.) The dad started yelling at the mom about how it was her fault that we were all in this meeting. He continued on this rant in front of his son.

What would you do?
A. Step in and defend the mom.
B. Take the kid away from the situation.
C. Sit there in shock
D. Other

I totally just sat there in shock. I really had no idea what to do. The V.P. (who was a collegiate wrestler and had tried out for the Olympics) stood up and put a stop to the dad. The dad actually lunged at the VP, who didn't step down, and then he sat down.
Take away lesson: Leave the domestic issues out of the meeting. We are all there to do what's best for your son/daughter.

4. After explaining that our next unit of study would be drugs and alcohol, a father starts saying that his son should be really good at that unit. And starts to ask me if I watch Cheech and Chong.

What would you do?
A. Act clueless to the Cheech and Chong reference and try to end the conference as quickly as possible.
B. Begin to recite lines from Pineapple Express.
C. Continue talking about the student's progress.
D. Other

I  went the clueless route. The kid was a stellar student so I felt no need to continue with the conversation. I was uncomfortable and wanted the dad to leave me alone.

Take away lesson: Your kid's teacher is not your friend or your buddy. Let's keep the conversation kid centered, 'k thanks.

One more little "gripe" how come all the parents I see are the one's whose kids have A's? Where are the parents I really want to talk to?
So, what would you have done?


Kristen said...

New follower here! I am two classes away from my MAED, so I love this post. Looking forward to reading more teacher stuff on your blog!

Angi said...

Wow...being a teacher is never dull, is it!?

I used to work for a counseling/mental health organization, and I worked with several teens who needed some extra assistance in class...let me just say, I learned to despise IEP meetings REALLY quickly.

Courtney M said...

These are GREAT! Thank you for sharing! You made my daY!

bonbon said...

YEA! So glad you came up with your own! As far as the one with the parent calling the student out about going through puberty I would like to think I would say something like, "Yah, well, we do teach a little but I would highly enoucrage that you have this conversation with him first. You can't just leave it to the hands of the educators." Or something like that. I hate it when parents pass off their uncomfortable tasks to teachers...


Alison said...

That's one thing that terrifies me about teaching. Conferences. It's not the kids either, it's the parents!

Nice handle on all of them. I would have done the same thing. Why would parents ever think it's okay to talk about their child's puberty or even discuss personal issues with your spouse?!

Good luck with all of your conferences!

rebeckann said...

Ugh! I totally understand! While I have been fortunate enough so far to not have actual uncomfortable conferences like the ones you describe, parents sure do make our jobs more difficult!

This year was the first that my school district scheduled enough time for us to see all of our students' parents. Prior to this, I only had time for 8, usually only for students who struggle with academics and/or behavior. There are always one or two that you never see. Kinda clears up why the kids are having trouble sometimes.

Kristin said...

A parent called the principal to complain about me a couple of weeks ago. Then came in to tell me she didn't like me and didn't understand why her kid had missing work (uh, because she doesn't do it the first time, duh).
I cried for 2 days afterward. Now, every time I look at the kid (who I had no problem with) I just think of the parent.
It doesn't really help that the principal didn't defend me all that much. I dread parent conferences like I dread a trip to the dentist...

SMD @ lifeaccordingtosteph said...

I really think people don't think, and a lot of parents are hard to deal with. I have a lot of teachers in my family, and friends who are teachers, and the stories I hear from them amaze me.

Leeann @ Join the Gossip said...

Oh em gee! That second one is so embarrassing...and funny...poor kid!

Michelle said...

First off, I love you and your teaching stories.

1. I would totally go with B. I mean, seriously lady? CALM DOWN.

2. A/B. I WOULD DIE. And who says that IN FRONT if their kid?? OMG. What did the kid do?

3. Holy crap. I think I would've tried to get the kid out of there and talk to them. What is wrong with people? I can't believe he lunged at the VP!

4. C. I would ignore him haha. Ridiculous.

Can't wait to hear how this year goes!

Lauren said...

Oh, conferences-one of the worst parts of teaching. We had a week of conferences this past week with 7 straight hours on Thursday evening. I feel your pain!!

Makaila said...

I would have gone with every single choice you made!

This is a great post Casey! it's good for me to see and consider the other side of the teacher/parent conference.. we just had ours on Monday!

rebeckann said...

Casey, have you gotten your CD from the Christmas music swap? I'm waiting for mine, and I'm so excited! Anyway, I wanted to let you know that I nominated you for a Versatile Blogger Award. You can get the questions from my blog! :)