Friday, October 14, 2011

Scary Parent Teacher Conferences

"Why they call you Mommy Renzen?" my son asked.

"They're calling me Mrs. Lorenzen because that's my last name," I said.


I had already had the guilty thought, I wonder if my boy wonders why I spend most of my days with all these other kids?

Even though I am a school psychologist, for now I explain that I am a teacher so that it can make more sense to him.

"All these kids have to call me Mrs. Lorenzen because I'm a teacher. But only one boy gets to call me Mommy," I say as I grab him and kiss his cheek.

We are playing on the playground where I work. It is sunset on the first day of parent teacher conferences. I had to bring my son to work that night because my husband was also working at parent teacher conferences and all of our babysitters are teachers as well.

I was worried about how it would go having my boy at my school for so long, but he had a blast. Other kids kicked a soccer ball with him, he was quiet playing in the corner of my meetings, and we played games together in my office that I usually play with students.

Ahhh, parent teacher conferences.

A stressful time for all.

I am so grateful to have the perspective of being a parent so that I can relate easier with those scary parent creatures.

Yet, parents usually think we (educators) are the scary creatures (some really are, but I won't name names and lose my job).

I will go to my first parent teacher conference next week on the other side of the table. The parent side.

And I know that what we, as parents, want to know is that someone really LIKES our child.

That someone is skilled and capable to teach them what they need to learn.

That even if discipline is needed, it is done with care.

We want every teacher to understand that, no matter our situation as parents, we send in the best of ourselves through those doors each day.

But enough of the sappy stuff. You wanna hear some eye-brow raisers from during parent teacher conferences?

-How about my own child yelling, "ROOOOAARRR!" right after requesting permission for a special education evaluation from a parent (Yeah, I know I said earlier he sat quietly during my meetings, but I lied. Don't all us parents lie? I guess "quiet" to me means that nothing ended in a big, giant, snotty fit.)

-Whatever you do, please wear a bra. With your too-big tank top. That's all I'll say.

-If a friendly school psychologist attends your meeting, don't assume it's for a bad reason. Especially if it's me. I'm very nice and fabulous. Nothing to worry about.

-When someone farts in a parent teacher conference, it is never a comfortable experience. And, no, it wasn't me. Maybe it was passive aggressive behavior by someone else, but it was not me.

I honestly have other examples but cannot figure out a way to tell about them without fear of consequence. I have to be careful what I publish about work-related things.

Tell me - When you go to parent teacher conferences as a parent, what do you want from the teacher?


Eva Gallant said...

As a former teacher, I spent more time on the other side of the table.

Deb said...

I haven't had to go to one yet, and lucky me, I'll never have to, either!

OK, I'm dismounting my unicorn now.

Li'l D is barely two and I already dread these. My son is smart, but "mild" he is not. Mostly I'm hopeful that his inclinations toward tidiness and order overtake his instigating tendencies.

I definitely will not expect Li'l D's teachers to cater to my every whim because I believe my child is perfect. Hopefully the lessons I've learned from teacher friends, too, will help make these meetings not nearly so dreadful as I imagine. :)

The "ROAAAARRRR!" bit is delightful from the outside, BTW!

jazzygal said...

Hmmm...I will remind myself of your thoughts next time I'm at an IEP meeting with multi-teachers in attendance. And I will DEFINITELY wear a bra!!

two things I want from teachers 9and have received) is openness and understanding :-)

xx Jazzy

gin said...

M'kay: my son has a while before I am on the other side of the conference table, but I would like a teacher to be positive, upbeat and have strategies to help my son and solutions to potential problems.
As a teacher, I want my parents to know that I am on their side, and for them to know that I, too, have a vested interest in their child's education...that's my job. You just may have given me inspiration for an upcoming post...

vinobaby said...

My Kiddo is now a "big 2nd grader" and I have yet to get much out of the teacher/parent conferences. I want to know honestly how he is doing, his strengths and weaknesses, and what I can do to encourage his strengths and help him with anything he may be having trouble with. I also want to know about his behavior. I know he is a great kid, but sometimes a wiggle worm and gets bored easily.

So far, all his teachers have said it that he is a sweet kid and is doing well. I guess I should take that and run?

Cheers to the teachers!

Grumpy Grateful Mom said...

It was interesting to read you perspective as a parent and teacher. I completely agree. I want to know that a teacher cares and wants the best for my child, even if they're not perfect.

And, as a parent, I want to know specific areas we need to work on--in a nice way. :)

My Inner Chick said...

---I work for the schools, too...

Yeah, I've seen those chicks w/out the bras and the g-string showing when they bend down. Not pretty.

One thinks...What the hell?

Fart? Awkward. Funny.

BTw, Did you need to get your PhD? In MN. that's the new rule.

Nic said...

As a mom, I dont need a teacher who is going to talk about my kids like they are Jesus Christ(PRAISE PRAISE PRAISE!!). I know my kid is pretty much the bees knees but I know hes not near perfect. I want to hear how I can help him be better as his mom. I want to know how WE can help him as a parent/teacher team.
I come into parent teacher confrences as a divorced mother of a son who may or may not have aspergers.

Andrea said...

being a parent totally changes everything! I was a teacher before this mom gig. And when I think back on how different things would have been with that knowledge... I was so relieved to hear that my Big Guy's teacher has kids of her own! Even if they roar!:)

Katie Gates said...

You're smart to limit the work-related anecdotes, but I'm glad you shared what you did. You have much to work with, perspective-wise. And that's good for the kids and for their parents!

The Pepperrific Life said...

This much I know: I don't want anybody farting at a parent-teacher conference!

Seriously, I've been to two already, and I must say I'm a bit disappointed. I do expect those teachers to come prepared, with lots to say about my daughter's strengths and weaknesses. But they really didn't have much to say. No substance at all! Anyway, my daughter is changing schools next year, so hopefully, things will be better :)

Anonymous said...

My son is in year 2 so I am on my third year of parent-teacher interviews. The prep and year 1 teachers were brilliant, seemed to genuinely care about my son, not just doing their jobs and were full of information on how he was doing and funny stories about things he said\did in class and advice on things I could do at home to help him. This years teacher is terrible (as far a p-t relations go). She's ok with the kids, my son hasn't complained about her, but she is super shy and avoids communicating with parents. Which means I know almost nothing about how my son is doing in school this year. It is very frustrating for me. I had one interview with her back in March and she didn't have much at all to say. She answered questions but didn't volunteer any information. She is in her 60's so maybe back when she was trained communicating with parents wasn't seen as so important, I don't know.

jess said...

For a while I wanted to be a teacher. It only took one Intro to Education course to make me realize that it wasn't for me. I think I'd be great with the kids, but the parents? That's another story entirely.

Teachers (and school psychologists!) have a tough job with more to delicately balance than I could imagine. My son is only two so conferences aren't something I've had to do yet, but I'll try my best to keep that in mind in case I'm ever tempted to defensively argue, "My kid would never do that!"

I hope you'll post a follow-up to share your experience from the other side. :)

Natalie said...

Ha ha who knew parent teacher conferences could be so interesting...and farting...whoa.

KDC Events said...

I love conferences. I only get to attend about 1 a year, My kid is too smart for his own good and is really a good kid so the teacher usually only makes me go to one. I like to hear that he is being challenged, not that he is doing fine. Good luck!!

Anonymous said...

I've yet to attend one as a parent. As a teacher, I just wanted the parents to know that I saw this as a team effort and that we weren't on opposing sides.