Conferences-Both Ends of the Spectrum

My son’s third grade conference is scheduled for Monday. We are never sure what we will hear when we walk in and sit in those little chairs.  As parents, we have truly had conference experiences at both ends of the spectrum.

First grade was a nightmare!  That year, the teacher seemed determined to prove that my son was struggling in her class.

Trust me…we were very well aware.

Overflowing piles of drawings were shown as proof that he was not interested or focused.  I was told about the shameful way that my son drew his owl in five minutes versus the “right” way that required thirty-five minutes. She was not amused when I couldn’t tell his product from the “correctly drawn” one.

Daily emails that listed every issue, no matter how minor the incident.  Infractions that in my mind, did not need additional attention.  As a teacher, I knew the amount of time that must have been spent on this reporting, but there seemed to be unlimited energy spent on catching him instead of inspiring him.  Ignoring the need for differentiation.  Administration had to get involved and reminders about his privacy and educational rights were given on a regular basis.

I couldn’t wait for those 180 days to be done!

Second grade was a completely different experience.  His teacher was warm and approachable. She saw his gifts and understood his quirkiness.  She built a relationship that allowed him to take risks and to do challenging things for her that he might not do for anyone else.  She didn’t expect the outbursts and behavior that the previous teacher counted on. While school was still uncomfortable for him because of the noise and the lights and the crowds, she got him.  His face lit up when he saw her and he felt her compassion and dedication to the profession.

I SO wanted her to move to third grade so the understanding could continue.

Late last week, I got an email from Mrs. Third Grade Teacher about several unfinished class activities.  This information was actually quite surprising because it had not been noted on any of his weekly reports and it wasn’t shared at a previous meeting in October.  I responded with questions and concern.

Sigh.

I sincerely hope that this is not the beginning of another first grade kind of year!

As an experienced teacher myself, I understand that some conferences are complicated because some kids take more energy, time and thinking outside the box.  It might not be fair, but it is true. The strategies that work for most, don’t always work with others.

I have learned that parents must leave the conference knowing that the teacher cares about their child.  They must feel as though you know them and that you see their strengths as well as the areas that need support.  If a parent doesn’t hear that from me, in my mind…it wasn’t a good conference.

So now I ask you…How was your conference?

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13 thoughts on “Conferences-Both Ends of the Spectrum

  1. We haven’t had our conference yet this year! We have been SO lucky with our prior teachers….love the part “his face lit up when he saw her”! I can totally relate. Im just hoping everything goes as well this year. I would love to have you on the teacher side of conferences 😉

  2. I prefer being the teacher to being the parent at those kind of conferences. It is slightly uncomfortable especially when you know your child is having problems. Last year taught me more than any other how important the teacher is. My older boy had a terrible teacher and it was a horrible year!
    I hope you get good news at the conference.

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