I type this as I am in the midst of the final night of parent-teacher conferences for the school year. Being my 8th year teaching, I find that I am not nearly as nervous as I once was, but still find several of the encounters a bit unsettling. Here’s why:
1) While I have many more conferences than a lot of my fellow teachers, it is quite disturbing that out of the 150 some students I have, just under 20 parents care enough to meet with me. Granted, I could eliminate around three-quarters of that 150 whose teenagers have good grades and are doing just fine in my class. On the flip side of this however, I have at least 20 students who are failing and another 10 or so that are barely passing. Not ONE of those parents has contacted me or set up a conference. Of those 20 parents who did show, two had C’s, and the rest have A’s. So for the most part, I didn’t actually meet with any parents that I actually needed to.
How can one care so little for their child, that they don’t even bother to find out why they are failing? Or what they can do to fix it? Even if you hated school yourself, it is your child’s ticket for getting farther in life…whether that means going on to college or simply being able to get a good, career-type job.
2) On the other end of the spectrum, I have parents coming in truly disturbed by their child’s grade in trigonometry because they only have a B+. And even one or two last year, that had a 98% and were not happy with that. They act as if their child is a horrible student and beg me to tell them what they can do to help them improve. Because of their “poor grades,” several of those students will now have outside tutoring to attempt to get their grades up. Unless it is the student themselves who wants desperately to have that A, then I just feel bad for them. Their parents seem to put so much pressure on them to essentially be perfect.
Don’t get me wrong, I was one of those crazy, school-obsessed students myself, who thought life would be over if I ever got an A-…BUT that was coming from within myself. Not because my parents wanted me to have an A, but because I wanted an A. There was definitely never pressure from my parents to be perfect. I can’t even imagine trying my very best, and then having my parents telling me that my best was just not good enough. Why would a parent chose to make their child feel so poorly about themselves?
3) I seem to be reflecting and thinking deeper about all of these conversations and interactions, or lack-there-of with various types of parents, as I now directly transfer it to how I imagine Avery might be. And, then on to how I will be as a parent in a similar scenario in the future. I like to think that Adam and I will be somewhere in the middle of the above mentioned extremes, but I also know that is easier said than done. It would be extremely difficult to sit back and just let her get a B, when she makes it very known to us that she is not actually giving 110%, as my Dad used to say. But at that the same time, if she is happy and succeeding and still learning, then perhaps that is good enough?
Only time will tell on this one. For now, I will just soak up every moment of watching Avery continue to learn and discover the world around her. Life as her Momma is the best job there is.
Favorite Parent Quote of the Night (of one of my freshmen girls): “D. says you you have such cute clothes, are so pretty, and are by far her favorite teacher.” (This student has never particularly liked math, or thought that she was good at it. And now she has an A, and actually seems to enjoy Algebra 1.) I love it!