Tuesday, November 8, 2011

And here we go again...

It's parent conference time!  We've been here before, but this year, since I don't have a classroom, I have been given a different perspective. I've been working in our office for both parent conference days.

Unfortunately, my different perspective hasn't improved my thoughts on these days. It's worsened.

You see, as a kindergarten teacher, I understand that we are the front-line for many families.  We are often the first experience many families have with the school system. We are often the ones that try explain the importance of showing up for meetings and being on time. We are often the ones that have to convince parents we are here to help, but we need them to show up. SHOW UP.

Turns out, we don't make as big of an impact on our parents as I assumed.  Parents of first, second, third - all the way up to fifth, are just as bad as the K parents!  Here is a typical conversation I was involved with:

Me: "Hello, can I help you?"

Parent: blank stare.

Me: "Are you here for a parent conference?"

Parent: "Yes."

Me: "Do you know what time?"

Parent: "I don't know."

Me: "What's your child's teacher's name?"

Parent: "I don't know."

Me: "Okay, what grade is your child in?"

Parent: "I don't know."

Me (giant inner sigh): "Okay. What is your child's name?"

Parent gives name, I have to ask for clarification a few times, I finally write it down. I give name to someone with special computer access to look up child to find the teacher's name (remember, I'm just helping, I'm not "official.") Then I look for the teacher's schedule (we had about half) to see if the child's name is listed.  Then, when I can't find name, I call the teacher and we hope that stars are aligned that the parent actually showed up on time and the teacher and translator are waiting.

More likely, they never responded to the teacher's multiple requests and just showed up.  Then we scramble to find a translator for the last-minute conference.

Luckily, due to our amazing staff, 9 times out of 10, the parents gets connected with the teacher with a translator.

Also, I will admit, luckily, these parents are showing up. BUT LORD ALMIGHTY, why does it have to be so hard?!

I am looking forward to getting back into my own room and dealing with 20 parents, instead of hundreds.

1 comment:

luckeyfrog said...

This year I am in a really academically motivated community, and so I knew that EVERY parent would want a conference, even if they didn't NEED one. Another teacher suggested I try a Family Share Night. I invited parents to stop in anytime in a wide range and then I had a checklist for students to show their family some of their work, their favorite center, their favorite book in the room, the photos on the SmartBoard, their displayed work, their notebooks, etc. The kids really liked showing off the room, and I was able to talk with many parents one-on-one without having a scheduled conference. I think it was lower pressure for the parents, too. I wonder how that idea would work in a tougher school. When the kids are motivated to come in, I think it helps!

At my last school in a rough area, providing meals and/or babysitting (sometimes with the help of the high school's career center or clubs, or incorporating local college students) really helped get families in, too.