3.10.2010

Parent Teacher Conferences

It's that time of year: parent-teacher conferences are here.

I have to say, as a parent, I'm not a big fan. As I blogged before, I think parent-teacher conferences are too short and scheduled too tightly. It makes the actual conference stressful - you want to get in all of your questions in a short span of time, all while taking in everything the teacher has to say.

I also think results in the belief (whether intentional or not) that teachers are communicating with you about your child effectively when, in some cases, they may not be. The school has my children for almost 7 hours per day, 5 days per week, 9 months out of the year. I get a sum total 20 minutes during the same school year to catch up on my child's progress. A little out of whack, perhaps?

I know that teachers don't have the time in their schedules to have lengthy meetings with parents about each child. But my last parent-teacher conference for one of my children came as a bit of a surprise. Her academics were stellar but her behavior in class was an issue. Somehow, at a parent-teacher conference, in the space of about 10 minutes, we were supposed to get to the root of all of this. It wasn't a productive use of anyone's time.

I left the school that day feeling disappointed - my first (and only) time that I've felt that way in my whole Philadelphia public school "experiment." After a talk with the principal, I felt a little better. And over the course of the year, I've come to terms with the idea that personalities in a classroom matter, that expectations differ and that not all teachers are created equal.

But now, staring at an upcoming appointment to do it all again, I'm still turned off by the whole scene. Long gone are the days when parents would arrange a time to come and chat with teachers about their child's progress. In Philadelphia, at least, appointments are assigned to you (it's up to you to fit it in your schedule) and that 10 minutes may be the entirety of significant information about your child's education that you get for the semester.

If you're lucky - and largely, we have been - teachers make themselves available to you outside of those 10 minutes. But if you're not, you're stuck.

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