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After the conferences

October 27, 2007 am31 7:03 am

I was looking forward to parent teacher conferences. They went well. I met 39 of 44 freshmen parents. I got to say nice things about kids, which parents like, but they were true (see this post). I’ll make a few adjustments to seating and homework checking for a few kids, which will likely help them out a bit. I’ll make generic announcements about Math Team (although I politely refused to single any kid out for this attention. Even great math students have the right, I think, to decide if they want to do extra or not).

(photo below, not me)

I was able to couch negatives in terms of positive suggestions. When I asked parents to help out (by checking for signatures – not actually looking at the homework – I’ve made it easier), they readily agreed. Recommendations for tutoring were also well-received. And I only heard a few excuses made for a child’s work (or lack), and even there, I think the message got through.

(more below the fold –>)

A popular topic was homework review (students put up problems if they have questions, or for comment, or to show off, all for credit). Another nice topic (algebra only) was differentiated assignments – I should explain this (but not today). For those interested, I said a little about math curricula. One poor couple heard me go off on a brief, intense rant in favor of a highly enhanced and enriched, but fundamentally traditionally structured mathematics curriculum. But actually when I caught myself and apologized for running on, they did want to hear the end of the thought.

You know those candid camera videos, at the end, where people realize how silly the situation they are in must look on tv? I got some of those smirks when, in response to “does my child talk too much?” I explained that talking in class is required, and that the child needs to talk a little more to bring up the grade another point or two. Several parents (2? 3? 4?) asked if I post anything on line. I answered “no” and braced myself for the follow-up question. It never came. (I think our parents recognize that different teachers handle things differently, and what I heard were inquiries, not requests) In fact, I did get questions about whether I preferred phone calls, e-mails, or notes. I appreciated being asked.

Some of the nicest were when the kid came, too. From last night I got thank yous this morning for being so nice (I think I was just being honest). And one conference, mother and son, today, was so relaxed, that we began joking around a bit, a little gentle teasing, in all three directions (!), and ended with everyone laughing goodbyes and the mom mentioning that this is her son’s favorite class (I usually know. This time I was pleasantly surprised).

6 Comments leave one →
  1. October 28, 2007 am31 6:00 am 6:00 am

    I would only admit anonymously that I enjoy parent teacher conferences also. I love meeting the parents and I love when my old students return with younger siblings. One year a former student came back to apologize for the way she behaved in my class. In fact, these conferences are one of the things that keep me from retiring.

  2. October 28, 2007 am31 6:32 am 6:32 am

    Anonymous from…? I told a mom wonderful things about her kid, and then swore her to just tell him that I said he was “a good student.”

  3. October 28, 2007 pm31 5:39 pm 5:39 pm

    I enjoyed conferences this year, finally. I resent having to stay until 8pm but I got over it and the time went by.

    I hadn’t caught your curriculum ideas yet on the blog: I like them and they are what I’ve been doing the past couple years. Being new kid on the block in Vermont I was trying to follow the text, which they adore. But it is just awful. So now it’s my way. And of course, nobody knows that I have changed the focus. Sigh.

  4. October 28, 2007 pm31 6:55 pm 6:55 pm

    Have you been here: Outlook on Teaching Math? I lay out a bunch there, and seem to have cut the regular link to it by reworking my pages, but only partially. I think you might like it.

  5. Miss Teacher permalink
    October 29, 2007 am31 4:12 am 4:12 am

    Man…you had 39 out of 44 parents show up…I had 8 out of 60 and I sent home invites!!!

  6. October 29, 2007 am31 4:22 am 4:22 am

    1. I have a heavily invested group of parents, and
    2. I said freshmen. These are the first time in a new school, with lots of strange and different rules, procedures, expectations. My numbers for my older students come much closer to yours.

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