Sunday, March 20, 2011

If I Ran Parent-Teacher Conferences

Each fall and spring, parents across the country wait to be assigned some mutually inconvenient time for parent and teacher to meet regarding the academic progress for each child. Now I'm sure for the parents of the gifted & talented students, there is a certain joy of expectation. However, for those of us with phenomenally standard children (who we obviously think are genius'), conferences are not the social highlight of our already hectic calendars. 

Honestly, I always have a certain "oy vey" feeling in my stomach as I head off to hear how my child enjoys talking in class -- a lot (no WAY?!) and needs to work to curb her friendly impulses. (REALLY? Wow! I hadn't noticed how impulsive she can be.) I will hear that Diva sometimes is a bit reluctant to transition from one task to another (GET OUT) and may, at times, simply close her book, push them to the side and have a good long day dream. That is the inevitable point at which I attempt to suppress what would be a very poorly-timed giggle and try to rein in my own attention.

I don't mean to diminish how teachers handle my children. I truly don't.  But I want to hear something new. Since that would mean going to some other child's conference -- which I've heard is frowned upon, I think we need to rethink the way we have parents and teachers meet. How 'bout we just cut the silly tip-toeing around each other and cut to the heart of the matter. You would like, in no particular order, for me to enforce with my children that they need to:

1) Give homework at least a passing glance
2) Stop shouting out every answer, every time, every day
3) Keep their hands to themselves while waiting in the lunch line
4) Remember to bring home classroom newsletters, at least every so often
5) Chain the homework folder to their persons to ensure ready access when it counts, like say, when planning homework.

Alrighty then!  We're good to go? All false pleasantries and stupid formalities being fully resolved, here's what I think we should be doing. We should be having wine. Yes, I know it's not allowed on school property, but maybe just this once we'll sort that out. What we have here are stilted interviews with parents wanting so badly to hear good news, while conditioned to one teacher after another telling them what the issues are. I'm not being negative. I'm simply being honest. As their mother, I think I am well aware that my wee ones are sometimes scatter-brained, talk a lot, and lose important stuff. No sense wasting tax payer time telling me again. The mood's all wrong. We need to work as partners!  We need to... we need to TOAST!

The wrong mood all started back just a few weeks into the year when I was forced to attend "Back to School Night". I know you need to run down the budget crisis, the awesome standardized test score from last year and awe us with your enthusiasm for our wee ones. But as a parent of not one, not two, not three, but FOUR children, I'd say the bloom is off the rose. The novelty of sitting in their little desks is gone. The "fun" has passed. So draw us back in, with wine.

Trust me, if you uncork it - they will come. If I was allowed to run Back to School Nights, they would be open house style cocktail parties to kick off the year ahead, rather than stilted, marginally attended PowerPoint displays that the teachers clearly put a lot of work in to for no where near the parent showing that they should get.

If I ran Parent-Teacher Conferences, they would be very intimate little tête-à-têtes. We'd discuss test scores over brie. Perhaps some crostini would be shared as you encouraged me and I encouraged you. As these are small gatherings, more one on one, I'd suggest we serve by the glass. Those little airline bottles may be ideal. Ooooh I know! Set up a mini bar in the corner. While I cracked it open for some Famous Amos Chocolate Chip cookies that seem to invade all mini-bars, I'd grab a Chivas or two. By mini-bar rates that would be about $52. Doesn't seem so hard to raise the moolah to send the whole class to Washington DC now, does it? Think about it.

Dearest Educators: These are just my humble suggestions. I may submit this to the Superintendent. It's too late for this year, but maybe they could take some action for next year. I wish I had thought of this sooner... 

No comments: