The longer I have children at school the less I want to do these P/T nights as I call them. There is one scheduled for next week.
I’m not sure whether to go or not. It’s really not as simple as it sounds. Let’s go back in time – a little history can be a good thing.
I thought that a Parent/Teacher evening would be a good thing. First up we used to get the child’s report a week or so ahead of the event. Along with a note saying please pencil in when you would like to see your child’s teacher. They are 15 min slots.
When the kids are in primary school that’s not such a problem even for me (with twins) because there is only going to be two teachers to see and even if the classrooms were in separate buildings you could schedule them a certain time apart.
Please note that Murphy’s Law of Parent/Teacher Nights is alive and absolutely freaking thriving. Whether you need to see one teacher or thirty – there will only be one time slot available with each of them – the same time slot.
Along with the report and time slot page, there is a note saying that if there are no issues that you don’t need to make an appointment and just give the whole deal a miss.
Then there’s the bit that states – if you have specific issues that might take more than 15 mins please make an appointment to see the teacher at another time.
Effectively the 15 mins seems to be for those people who have a small problem and can talk fast. I do get the impression when I receive this information that the implication is ‘Don’t come anywhere near us please.’
Maybe I’m just paranoid. Let’s look at how I’ve found the events in primary. Even with only two of my own I usually end up with two teachers agreeing to seeing me in the same 15 mins.
Since I worked out that they never keep to times that hasn’t worried me. The first P/T I studied the report carefully, made pencil notes on it with asterisks marking the spots (since you can never find the part you want to talk about under pressure) and headed into the classroom.
I smiled and said Hello, before my bum touched the chair so that I wouldn’t waste any time on pleasantries. Then I startedtalkingreallyquicklytogetthroughitallinthetime…….I couldn’t believe the teacher actually spoke slowly and paused between words? Didn’t she know we were on a time frame?
I think she was a bit taken aback by the organisation that went into it – and I think I had 4 mins up my sleeve when I’d addressed the things I was wondering about.
Didn’t she realise mothers of twins knew how to organise?
Much later on I had a spectacularly bad P/T – by that stage I took the children in with me (none of this ‘he said – she said’ business – let’s get it out in the open.)
Coming off night duty I had an hours sleep and went into one P/T looking fairly spacey due to lack of sleep and came out the same way.
Really I should have known better.
Off I went to the next one – OMG!! We waited about 25 mins and when the people exited the room I should have just run.
But no, in we went. And about 25 mins later after this teacher had nothing but complaints and had torn stips off the child with me, I was flabbergasted but so tired I couldn’t even speak! You know what? the report hadn’t been so bad so I was quite unprepared.
I was disgusted that I had let her go on like that. I felt I should have been able to protect that child. So I talked to him about how he felt about it, pretty much the same as I’d felt too.
Apparently she wasn’t quite so bad on a day to day basis but obviously felt that giving the parent and child both barrels was an effective practise. 6 months later I said to the child after we went through his report…..Do you think I need to go see her? ‘Yes…..but can I stay home?’ Was his reply.
I said Yes, since I knew how he felt. I dreaded having to go myself.
But organised I was. We went throught the report with a fine tooth comb. The boy disagreed with two things she said, and I disagreed with her praise of his spelling (not his best point).
I went in and did to her what she had done to us the time before. I said hello as my bum hit the seat – put my paper down on the desk and proceeded to discuss only the points where we disagreed with her, cut her off as she spoke, then folded the paper told her our 15 mins was up – goodbye.
As I left I think I saw a slight glimmer of a smile – I’m pretty sure she realised she had been Teacher/Parented right back atcha! That was a bit of a watershed for me in terms of how parents and teachers cope with each other.
I have had an absolutely fabulous P/T where the teacher only remarked on the positive – and even the negative ie the things the child wasn’t great at and had a negative attitude towards…..well that’s my job to help her believe she can do it! Wow, I needed a drink after that P/T – I was convinced that I’d dreamed it and would wake up to find I still had to face the situation. One of the schools we were at used to use a convention room at a local Club for P/T’s. I could see the benefit of that – if the teachers and parent’s didn’t need a drink or two for dutch courage before meeting each other then they might well after!
One of the major things I’ve found is that the teachers always tell me what I already know about my children. ‘She has a wonderful vocabulary’ on the first week at school becomes ‘She never stops talking long enough to listen to instructions’ by the end of first semester.
“He’s easily distracted, unfocused, unorganised, forgets to bring books, equipment to class’ ‘He/she is very sociable and needs to learn to concentrate on the task in hand’ You know? I live with these children on average for 5 years before you get to meet them – I feel like saying ‘You think?’ or ‘Oh I hadn’t noticed!’
As the years go on I am thinking that the dreaded (by both sides) P/T’s are in fact fairly useless. I’m very much aware though that teachers seem to think that parents who turn up to these events actually are more interested in their child’s learning.
By the time we got to high school I at one stage exercised a little wit to relieve the boredom (you know even with appointments you wait for 1 hour or more for the popular teachers only to have them talk about one of the other children you own?) I have informed them that the cat has been known to pee on carelessly left homework and assignments (apparently there is an artist who loved cats and all her canvasses smelt the same) and I’ve informed a teacher (thanks Dr Karl) that australian children on average fart 24 times a day (so approx once an hour?) and that boys fart noisily whilst girls are more prone to SBD’s (Silent But Deadlies.) The science teacher gave that a little thought and pronounced Dr Karl pretty spot on.
I have now perfected the P/T night – treat it like speed dating (which wasn’t invented when I was dating.) You has your piece of paper with times on it. You check out the rooms, and positions in the rooms of the teachers you wish to torture.
You stand between said rooms or positions and watch both victims, as someone’s parent starts to get restless you lean that way, and as they rise from the seat you sprint towards them (pushing several other sprinters to the ground) and hit the seat with a ‘Yes!’
Proceed to tell the teacher your name, your little darlings name and ask several questions.
Give them a second to ask any back – rise and step out of the way as the next parent comes through. All done.
Teachers need to keep in mind as well – most of my children’s bad habits are actually inherited….from moi!
There are some teachers who although they seem quite nice are always negative. I recently had that – as he said ‘I don’t know if you know but….’ and I replied ‘I’m not a stupid woman you know I live with these children!’
He was a little taken aback and apologetic, but no less negative.
Later on, waiting on a seat in that same room with another woman (after discussing if we were waiting for different teachers or in fact in competition with each other) another mother walked away from the negative teacher almost in tears she was trying to hold in as she walked from the room. The lady next to me said loudly ‘Wine is always good after these nights.’ ‘Red’ I said. I hope it cheered her a little. I hear that at some private schools they serve wine at the P/T’s now that’s humane!
Don’t think I don’t realise it’s torture for the poor teachers as well! That’s one good reason I’m glad I’m not a teacher – the other being having to spend all day as well as nights and weekends with kids. I’m not sure if there is any humane alternative – this year as there was no mention of P/T’s (to my secret delight) I rang 3 teachers to ask if things were going ok with last teen.
They were all not happy about having to have a one on one. But it took less than 5 mins as I don’t want a list of anything just is it all going in a forward direction? Are there any major issues? Ok, let me know if there are. Bye now.
You know, I wonder if we could do it by txt or email? Sounds good to me – we can’t skype due to being shaped most of the month. I’d bring that up at the P & C meeting – except that’s a whole other category!