It was our very first Parent Teacher Conference. We were beyond excited to hear what was happening at school in the life our new Kindergartner.
My husband and I arrived a few minutes early and waited until it was our time to sit down with our son's teacher. To our complete surprise, the meeting got started right away with negative comment after negative comment. Everything from our son taking too much time to complete assignments to not saying please and thank you.
As I sat, listening, I was in complete shock! This little boy, whose parents believed was near perfect, reading by the start of Kindergarten and so quiet and obedient, was being hammered by this strict teacher who ran a very structured classroom.
I don't remember exactly, but I'm pretty sure by the time we reached the car, my tears were steadily flowing! There was not one positive thing said about my child! (Our kids no longer attend this school, and while this teacher had many great qualities, she is no longer teaching.)
Needless to say, this has scarred me for life. I am no longer excited for Parent Teacher Conferences. For days prior, my stomach is in knots. This was an experience like no other and has not happened to us since, but as with all life experiences, we turned this into a life lesson.
We now head into these meetings mentally prepared in these three ways:
Expect critique of your child. My husband and I always want a take-away... how can my child improve or what does he or she need to work on? We want specifics; if our child is floating along without a targeted weak area, gains will not be made.
- Advocate for your child as a team member. Typically, conferences shouldn't be a complete blindside; although, I did give an example of what felt like an ambush! Be willing to do your part and communicate this to your child's teacher. This support will allow your child to be as successful as possible.
- Be ready to discuss your questions, concerns and successes. Before each conference, my husband and I sit down and come up with a mental list of ideas about what may have not been touched on during the meeting. It is usually not academic. How is their attitude, are they respectful, do they get along with others, are they all-inclusive with peers, etc. We also try and sneak in a few fun facts about our child. She loves the math games you've been playing! He will never show it, but he loves your class. She came home and told us all about the cool science experiment you all did in class. We were very impressed to see his report on “Beavers.” Whatever we can share to make it personal.
I don't think we are the only family who has ever had to sit through a hard Parent Teacher Conference, but I will say, going in prepared to hear the truth, attack what needs to improve, and build that school-to-home support relationship will make for a successful year. We pray for our kids, their education, and teachers daily because we clearly see how much dedication and hard work these teachers put into serving our kids.
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