Thursday, October 30, 2008

Speed Conferencing

I just got home from parent teacher conference night.

I'm whupped. It's a long day - thirteen hours for me, since I show up at 6:30am and left at 7:30 pm. The PTO, bless their hearts, did feed us a nice BBQ supper, with all the trimmings - potato salad, baked beans, mac and cheese, and plenty of veggies and desserts. This is The South, after all, where we consider mac and cheese to be a vegetable.

In any case, parent teacher conference night is sort of like speed dating. We sent out a form with the reports cards on Friday, where all the parent had to do was circle the name of the teacher or teachers on the child's team and send it back. Once we got them all in by the cut-off time of Tuesday, we scheduled the parents in to see us in 10 minute blocks. So it goes something like this...

Meet with Mr. Math for ten minutes.


On to Miss Reading for ten minutes.


Down the hall to Ms. Language for ten more minutes.


Around the corner to Mrs. Social Studies for ten minutes!


And lastly, next door to Mrs., Bluebird for ten minutes!



We had more forms turned in than we had time slots so we sort of had to pick and choose, and we chose the ones from parents we really needed to talk to. The others got a nice note reminding them that they can simply call the office to make an appointment any day during our planning.

Pinball Boy's mother, obviously, was scheduled in first. We needed to talk to her, and badly! He's still bouncing off the walls, and this week he and I are focusing on him staying in his seat when it is appropriate - he gets to move around my room a lot more than the other kids as he's passing out papers, turning the lights on and off, answering the door, and so forth, but he still needs to learn that there's a time to be up and around and a time to sit down. Mom seems frazzled (there are 4 more, after all) and she did say that she was trying to find a new doctor as their old doctor retired. She realizes there's a problem, so we can only hope that she will work with us to fix it.

Most of my students are going through the typical seventh grader DUH phase - they don't do work, don't study, can't seem to get it together and are in a perpetual fog. Every year we get parents who wonder what happened to that adorable little sixth grader who never caused a fuss and now is moody and doing badly in school.

We call it getting hit with the hormone hammer.

In any case, I did have a couple of cool moments, both dealing with two of my special ed kids. I got lucky this year because my special ed kids are awesome. They nearly all have incredible work ethics, they try hard, they're polite, sweet, and never a behavior problem. This is a huge change from years gone by. One of them, Big-Eyed Boy, loves science and is my top student in my Fifth Period Class From the Depths of Hell Itself.

Okay, tangent coming here...I may have to rename this class. I put in a new discipline program last week (Thanks to Leesepea), and they have straightened up like nobody's business. Of course, a lot of them have been absent lately, but they still are turning it around.

Anyhow, Big-Eyed Boy may be special ed, but this is one smart kid. He just has trouble processing, but once he gets it, he gets it. His benchmark rocked. He's wonderful. Mom was nearly in tears.

"Would you mind if I got my husband on the phone and you could tell him this? He'll never believe me."

No problem there. She calls up hubby and I tell him what I told her. Great job, hard worker, good benchmark, I'd take a classroom full of him if I could. Dad is going, "Really?" and I'm saying, 'Yup, he's going places if he stays this focused."

Mom thanks me. And thanks me again. And can hardly get out of the room. But really, I should be thanking her because that kid is a ray of sunshine in my life.

Sweet Boy's Mom and Dad show up. Sweet Boy is home studying for his science test. I told mom last time I saw her that I was going to do something different for this test. Sweet Boy reads, at best, at a second grade level. He has not been able to pass a modified test, even though it's read to him. However, I know, from listening to him, that he knows the stuff. So we're going to do an oral test. I'm going to get with him and talk about science. And hopefully this will help his grade, and his self-confidence. Mom and Dad are just delighted that I'm willing to try this. They can't believe how lucky they are that Sweet Boy is on a great team (and honestly, all our teams in the 7th grade are pretty darn good). They are so pleased to see that he's doing better and focusing a lot more.

Parents like that make it worth while.


leesepea said...

Isn't amazing how quickly they turn things around when they realize you mean business?

Glad the new system is working for you. :)

Sarah said...

Yea for good conferences! Sounds like you have a few sweet ones who want to learn! Those are the best.