Okay, let me say something: Last Saturday, I had the longest parent-teacher conference (PTC) of my life.
This was due to the single fact that I sat there for two hours and almost no one came to talk about their students’ grades in my particular subject (I teach mainstream English and conversational ESL for the intermediate grades at an elementary school).
When I came into the meeting at 9:45 after procuring new sets of books for the school, I found out that I didn’t miss anything. I rushed to my assigned room for the conference.
We used four classrooms for the PTC. One classroom had the advisers of the primary graders, while the other one housed the intermediate classes. There was a separate one for preschool and for the subject teachers who don’t advise students (including me).
Luckily, there was an abundant supply of coffee, tea, water, biscuits and dessert. All I needed to do is to wait and eat some breakfast while I was on it.
To be fair though, big props to the adviser teachers for being able to answer their respective students’ concerns beforehand, especially regarding their grades. Without them, I’d bet that visitors would actually come to the room that I was in and make me explain why their son or daughter lost 2 points; why did their son fail, etc.
I was also happy for the fact that we had parents who understand that grades are not everything in a student’s life. While it is true that they are competitive and that they value high grades as long as they were earned properly, these parents never went into the nitty-gritty of chasing after grades.
At least, I had four visits. The first visit involved a parent who wanted to ask about enrichment activities in English. The second one was a parent who wanted to say hi and talk for a while. The third one wanted to talk about something else – probably the fact that there was need for new books in the library. The fourth one was a former student anyway.
I used to dread these parent-teacher conferences. I think that being able to deal with parents in a calm, collected manner was one of the best abilities that a teacher could acquire.
I guess I got a free pass in that department.
Maybe I could have used those two hours to sort those books and prepare proper documentation on them so that my students would be able to use the new books.
But then, that’s a teacher’s life – to wait inside the PTC room.