Tag Archives: parent-teacher conferences

Sprouting

25 Feb

Way back in October, in a desperate attempt to spruce up my room for Fall Conferences, I bought three potted chrysanthemums. The flowers they bore were a lovely autumnal mix of yellow red and orange and they really gave the classroom a homey feel. I liked them so much that, when conferences were over, I brought home and replanted them in the containers on my front stoop. I expected them to be gone by now

Although it is still Late Winter, Spring conferences happen at the end of this week.   I have been looking at the chrysanthemums that are still in those containers on my front stoop. They are looking a little raggedy.

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It is hard to believe that we are almost two-thirds of the way through the school year, but it is a good time for this next round of conferences because the sixth graders are a bit raggedy, too. They are tired. They have discovered their social lives. I am not as interesting as I used to be. Maybe I am a bit raggedy, too.

I’d been thinking about pulling out the chrysanthemums and planting something more alive. But if you lean in a little closer, your heart will stir.

Little leaves are spouting on the old growth. And a tiny flower will soon bloom close to the soil. Instead of pulling them up, I think I might prune away the dead and dying bits so the new growth has room to grow.

I guess that is a bit what Spring conferences are about – pruning away what is in the way so students can bloom.

P-T Conferences #SOL19

1 Mar

Our last round of parent-teacher conferences finished last night. We do a hybrid for of parent teacher conference. We schedule a family every 15 minutes. Each student/parent combo gets 15 minutes with me and 15 minutes to share a presentation with their parents. Neither are ever exactly 15 minutes, but it all works out in the end.

I love watching kids sitting next to their parents talking about what they’ve learned or explaining the significance of something they’ve done in a notebook. I love the looks of pride on students’ faces and of sincere interest on  parents’.

There are a few hard conversations to be had, too. I was uneasy about these in the early years of my career, but 30 years in, I can gently, but honestly, tell it like it is. It makes me sad to see families where things are not running smoothly. More than once, I’ve had to grab the box of tissues off my desk and offer it to a parent or a child.

I especially love the times when there is only one family in the room and I can eavesdrop. Not all the presentations are in English, because the home language is something other. I love seeing this side of my 6th graders that I don’t get to see at school.

My real favorite thing to do is capture golden lines such as my favorite one from yesterday:  “My goal is to limit the number of books I read at a time to four. ”

Yeah, I love my job.

Today is Day One of the 2019 Slice of Life Story Challenge. Stay tuned for 30 more.

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Things parents said at conferences

16 Mar

“She spends too much time doing homework”

“This has been his best year yet.”

“We have that problem at home, too.”

“No teacher has ever said that about his bad handwriting. Thank you.”

“She’s up until 11:30 doing homework.”

“In the Fall, you said she didn’t speak up. This is a big improvement.”

“Do you teach grammar?”

“Just wait ’til you get the next one!”

“She loves the independence of middle school.”

“How can I help?”

“Do the children have chores? We are trying to have them help more at home.”

“He talks all the time at home!”

“Think of a few ways you can participate in more. But be specific and make it concrete.”

“Humanities is his favorite.”

“I’m afraid to touch the pile of papers beside his desk.”

“Thank you.”

 

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Dear {insert parent name}

3 Mar

Dear {insert parent name}

You signed up for a conference with me, but should have signed up with{insert teacher name}. I have deleted your appointment with me because you can’t sign up with more than 1 teacher. Sorry about the confusion. It has been a confusing process for many people, including teachers.

I sent this message to a number of parents yesterday. Up until this Spring, each teacher has scheduled their own conferences through SignUpGenius. We created our own schedule, had a unique link and sent it to our parents.

For the first time ever, we are scheduling centrally using PTCFast. One of our administrators created the schedule and classes for each teacher. When parents enter the site, they have to click on their child’s teacher. Because we are a middle school, students have multiple teachers and most teams aren’t conferencing with the same group of kids we saw in  the Fall.  You can see the confusion.

Slowly but surely, the corrections are happening. There are still 10 days before conferences, so I anticipate that all the wrinkles will be ironed out before the first conference.

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Parent-teacher Conference Conversations

4 Nov

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For the last two years, we’ve had conferences  on Hallowe’en, meaning that we avoid all the hullabaloo around that holiday. Some of the lids who came in with their parent(s) looked like they were about to see a ghost. It is often awkward for kids when worlds collide. This was my first set of conferences in 6 years. During the last 2 years, as the ESL teacher, I dropped in on some conferences, but I wasn’t responsible for organizing and running the whole show.

I always tell parents that, by 4th grade, I’m probably not telling them anything they haven’t heard already, and they should;t hear any surprises because if there have been problems, they would have heard from me by now. I got a few surprises, though.

First, there was the boy who came to our school part way through last year, a bit of a wreck.His mom has tattoos  and lots of piercings on her face. I’d seen a picture ahead of time, so I was prepared and we had a good conversation. You should have seen the  priceless look  on the faces of the boy and his family waiting in the hallway for the conference time that followed.

The most bizarre conference was with the mom who came in without her daughter, but with a plastic container. She said she really needed to trade this one for the one her daughter used for her volcano project.

“What volcano project?” I asked. We aren’t studying volcanoes and her daughter certainly hadn’t brought a plastic container with volcano into class. Apparently, though, she had told her mom it was urgent and due last Friday, so Mom emptied the cat food container and let her use it. mom wanted her cat food container back. The girl and I had a little chat yesterday. I hope she and her mother had one when Mom got home.

Although exhausting, it is always interesting, and sometimes exciting, to see families at conferences. Now I have to gear up for my first set of report cards in six years.

Randy Ribay

YA author, teacher, nerd

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