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Parent-teacher conferences Day 1

April 4, 2008 pm30 3:49 pm

Last night was Round 1 of this Spring’s parent-teacher conferences. This afternoon (after a shortened day) is Round 2.

I am teaching a full load this term, for the first time in a while (five classes instead of three and a half). So, for two full freshman classes, there are parents who had never officially met me (though many have actually chatted with me before.) Plus, I am teaching all the freshmen in the building (freshmen parents are the most likely to come). Plus I have a new senior elective, with mostly different kids from the Fall (was teaching Combinatorics, now teaching Logic.)

So, a pretty busy night, from my point of view. Conferences with parents of 32 kids, about half from the new freshmen classes.

I was surprised how few mentioned the change in teacher. In fact, I ended up bringing it up several times. But only three wanted to discuss it in relation to their child’s performance.

Now, the teacher who left was wonderful. Her development of material is slow and clear (in comparison to mine). Mine is more rapid, and I am more likely to jump off topic. I have more “other stuff” going on. Soothing vs engaging? Maybe. But kids did well with both of us. And the content was identical.

So one of the first couples to sit down, unsolicited, says how much better it is with me. And then that subject dies until much later in the evening. I get two towards the end. For both the grade dropped, and in each case the comment is directed to “jumpy” topics. The comments were fair. We discussed how we could make a better adjustment. They really were both good kids, and I expect positive outcomes.

But one was interesting in a whole nother way. The parent made a polite preamble, respects me, good teacher, all that, and then for the important stuff says, “I know you understand Spanish” and proceeds to speak for a minute, minute in a half about the cambia de maestro in untempered Dominican Spanish. Now, I did take Spanish for one year in Junior High School. And I’ve lived in the Bronx for a while. But it is not often when I am put in the position of needing to listen for close comprehension. I could have stopped him, but he jumped right in and , in fact, I did understand, much more easily than I would have guessed. I did not know the topic in advance, but there was good context, and the complaint made sense. Plus, he repeated himself a bit.

The change of teacher sort of came up two more times. One child, high math grades until this year, explained to her mom that the drop was because she did not work for the previous teacher because she did not like the previous teacher. I asked how much work she had done for my class, and her answer (very quietly “none”) exposed as fiction everything else she had said.

Another child’s grade fell with me, and I asked if it was a rough transition. No, she liked both me and my predecessor very much, but she had trouble with the old fashioned mixture problems, and was doing much better with graphing and systems of equations. I liked that answer.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 5, 2008 am30 2:48 am 2:48 am

    What logic text are you using?

  2. April 5, 2008 am30 3:11 am 3:11 am

    Hurley. Know it?

    I ordered a review copy of Copi, and can’t see what would recommend one over the other.

  3. April 5, 2008 am30 5:26 am 5:26 am

    The Copi book has some awesome reviews in Amazon. I’ll add it to my wish list. Never heard of Hurley.

    We have Enderton, Gensler, Shoenfield, a couple by Suppes, and some lesser known books by self-publishers on the shelf and I’m pretty sure that we need yet another one.

  4. April 5, 2008 pm30 3:57 pm 3:57 pm

    Living on the border with Mexico, I get a lot of parents who speak only Spanish. I now regret taking German for two years in high school. I have slowly picked up a bit from here and there, and am to the point where I can understand mostly when people talk to me. I can pick out a word here and there and get the general idea of the conversation.

    I need to get Rosetta Stone some summer and really learn the stuff…

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