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Parent/Student Conferences: Not That Educational - Elf M. Sternberg
Parent/Student Conferences: Not That Educational
Today's expedition to Storm's high school for the parent/teacher conference was a complete waste of time. It was fifteen minutes long. The first ten minutes were a scripted set of bulletpoints that the school distributed to each student. The first instruction read, "The parent should remain silent and withhold all questions until the end of the presentation."

So, I did.

After which, I said, "This was a complete waste of time. There's nothing here that I don't know about. We keep close track of Storm's performance, ask about her homework, and about her ambitions." I pointed to the four years plan she had asked Storm to develop. "Storm and I wrote put that together a month ago after a meeting with the IB instructor. If anything, the scripted nature of this presentation seems designed to prevent me from asking you anything pointed or direct."

The teacher spread her hands defensively. "You'd be surprised how many parents come in here and learn something new, something they didn't know about their student." She then turned back to Storm to work through a list of questions she had about Storm's progress. Toward the end, she said, "Many parents don't really have a good grasp on education at the high school level."

"Storm lives a father who's a published author and software engineer, and a stepmother who's a credentialed scientist and journalist. We don't have that problem."

"Sometimes I wonder if Storm feels intimidated by her parents. Do you?" she asked Storm.

"Not really."

It was a very unsatisfactory meeting, mostly because it did what it was meant to do: deflect the parent from being able to ask about what the school was doing, or not doing, on the student's behalf.

Current Mood: annoyed annoyed

7 comments or Leave a comment
abostick59 From: abostick59 Date: May 18th, 2012 09:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
Let's see if I understand this correctly: This teacher reframed your being on top of what's going on with Storm's education as your being a bad parent.

Have I got that right?
elfs From: elfs Date: May 19th, 2012 04:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
Huh, I didn't encode it that way, but yes, I can see how that's one way to look at it. This is one of those scary verges where her job is to find all of the barriers to Storm's well-being and if the parents are one of them, find a way to remove the parents from the equation. Collateral damage.
shunra From: shunra Date: May 18th, 2012 10:52 pm (UTC) (Link)

Much empathy

So being an involved parent is "intimidating" - but presumably, not being involved would be neglectful.

I get from my daughter's school a similar double-message: parents are expected to keep up with the student's progress via the online grade system - which the teachers don't update. You can either fail to keep up by not looking for the data, or by looking for it.

I wish the local school would offer an IB, though. It would make the schools she wants to go to much more accessible.
irismoonlight From: irismoonlight Date: May 19th, 2012 04:44 am (UTC) (Link)
Sometimes I wonder if Storm's TEACHER feels intimidated by Storm's parents. Does she?

A little projection going on there, methinks.
lionman From: lionman Date: May 19th, 2012 04:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Actually, being involved in the public education system, I can say what you're actually experiencing is a teacher who is surprised and startled by finding a set of parents who are doing what they're actually supposed to do, be involved and concerned about their child's life and education. You've caught her off guard, and it's apparently been long enough since she's seen parents like you, that she's forgotten how to respond properly. This is also the reason there's a script. The vast majority of parents that come in typically don't know what's going on like you do.

You two are the exception that when we were growing up, was the rule. It's even possible you've run into teachers young enough who've never encountered a parent that's as involved as you are. Which, saddens me a little. :-(
urox From: urox Date: May 20th, 2012 08:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
I found out from my parent-teacher conference that my child's teacher will either lie in front of administration about her discipline techniques or "not remember (Teacher: "I asked all the teachers if they did that and they did not"... me: "No, I observed *you* doing it" Teacher: "I don't remember doing that at all" me: "You did it for 50% of the observed time.")

This worries me.
amindofiron From: amindofiron Date: May 21st, 2012 08:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
As well it should I would think.
7 comments or Leave a comment