10 March 2011

Parent Teacher Conferences, the Running Diary

I've decided that this week will mostly be an ode to Bill Simmons. He occasionally writes running diaries of major sporting events. I'm adapting that, and offering to you a running diary of one of the most mind-numbing things a high school teacher can do: the parent-teacher conference. 

My school has 4 conferences a year: Welcome Back Night, 2nd Quarter, and then, in the Spring, 3rd and 4th Quarter in the same week. By this point in the year, parents are generally resigned to their kids accomplishing whatever they're going to accomplish, so attendance is sparse at best. Tonight conferences run from 4-7. 

Dinner was served starting at 3, so that's where we pick up the action. 

3:00 - And dinner is served. Tonight is a good night, Bar-B-Q. They even had non-mammal for the communists.

3:34 - As we eat dinner, a P.E. teacher shares the ironic fact for the day: He has a student who's parent is angry because the kid ineligible to run track. Why is the kid ineligible? Because he doesn't dress out in gym.

4 - And so it begins

4:05 - Whoa, a second meeting already. Of course, it's a kid who doesn't need to be here, since he has a 92% in AP U.S. History.  

4:10 - Dad wants to know what the "standard deviance" in my class is. I don't do math, so I can't tell him. I try to explain that the grades are on a bell curve. That confuses him. He wants to know if his daughter has turned in one missing assignment. I have 180 students. I have no idea if she turned one thing in. 

4:18 -Talked to a mom. Her kid doesn't ever advocate, never asks for help. Mom doesn't advocate for the kid either, just wants to talk about it. Apples tend to fall near trees, I suppose.

4:28 -Mom and daughter sit down. Kid knows what the problem is, I know what the problem is, mom knows what the problem is. The conference is quick, since generally you don't talk about problems that rhyme with barijuana.

4:30 - Mom has a daughter and foreign exchange student. Doesn't like either one of them. We have a conversation about many things, including how her mom was a bitch.

4:37- Hey, this is cool, a parent who just wanted to thank me for teaching his kid. That was nice.

4:40 - The parents of twins are here. Two-for-one!

4:49 - A kid who is panicking about having an 84% in an AP class. Calm down, it isn't the end of the world.

5:05 - A kid who I've had for 4 years is here. Her mom and I talk about where she's going to college (waiting to hear from Brown, Harvard and Yale). This is one of the few great moments of a conference night. When the parents of long-termers stop in. It's like talking to old friends.

5:16 - A parent who is worried about the effect of video games on her son becoming a valedictorian. It's not the video games that are holding him back, but who am I to be a truth-teller today?

5:22 - Talking about CNN's story about the Saudi Arabians. This is more exciting that my normal Thursday evening, which consists of sitting on my couch in pajama pants and watching 30 Rock. Woo.

5:29 - Mom and her two daughters arrive. I spend most of the conference telling her, and her mom that her 76% isn't acceptable. Mom agrees. That makes sense. This night has been free of drama.

5:36 - Across the gym, the gym teachers are learning to juggle from an engineering teacher. Yeah, us being here is a valuable use of time.......

5:40 - I have a rolly chair. I'm in a gym without anybody to talk to. I may be rolling up and down the length of the court. By "may" I mean "am".

5:45- Just got back from taking a tour of the cafeteria, where the English teachers are. Reassure girl from 5:29 that life will go on, even with a B. Turns out her math teacher said the exact same words I did. 

5:46 - Out of boredom I party-boy my evaluator. General laughter. 

5:57 - Discussion about professional dress. I support teachers needing to wear ties and dress pants to look like professionals. Teacher in jeans and a bowling shirt, amazingly enough, disagrees.

6:06 - Talk to yet another AP kid. At one point I offer to sell them my house. Also refer to my bullet-dodging abilities. 

6:10 - and. I'm. on. twitter.

6:14 - That didn't last long. I guess I'll go get a glass of water. Or gin.

6:33 - Back, sans gin. The book fair dropped off bags of popcorn though, so I've got that going for me.

6:34 - Just noticed that two of my department members are rocking sweater vests this evening. Jim Tressel would be so proud that he would hide the evidence for nine months.

6:40 - Just finished entering grades into the gradebook. Again, more exciting that a normal Thursday. The woman next to me is getting onto sporcle to play history nerd trivia games.

6:48 - I just completed a round trip of the gym on my chair, using the book fair popcorn as a drive-by weapon.

6:49 - Just realized that I smell slightly of B.O. So I'm rolling around in an office chair, throwing food at my peers, and I smell slightly funky. In short, I have become a freshman.

6:52 - there are 9 parents in the gym right now. There are 36 teachers. We have a 4:1 teacher to parent ratio right now.

6:54 - Not that I'm counting, but there are 360 seconds left, and then I'm done with conferences for the year.

6:55 - We're discussing the hotness of the girl in the T-Mobile commercials.

6:59 - No one come through the door! No one! Stay away!

7:00 - And. we're. done.

1 comment:

  1. Now I understand why my mom never came to these things. Truth be told, she never even saw my grades once the school stopped mailing them...
    Glad to know all of you were using your time wisely.