26 February 2008

Parent-Teacher Conferences

Went to parent-teacher conferences at Patrick and G's respective schools, and I need to tell you how much I love 'em compared to their elementary years...

Conferences at the elementary school level are insane. You have to almost literally fight the other parents to even get into the building. Once you get in, you're assailed, guilted and harrangued on all sides for your participation in this, or donation to that... or an "opportunity" to purchase whatever... Your conference is scheduled for a 15-minute block of time with the teacher, but she is running about half an hour late because other parents scheduled before you have monopolized her time. By the time it's your turn, five other sets of parents have lined up outside the door and their children are occasionally peeking in to eavesdrop on your conversation. Your participation in this exercise is taken for granted, and there is no way you are active enough in your child's education. In fact, why didn't you get a sitter and bring your husband to this improtant event??

I hated conferences at the elementary school.

It's open-house format in the upper grades and you can come or go based on how busy a particular teacher is. Many teachers just set up a table in the cafeteria, and you wait on line behind other parents to say hello. Conferences are short, and considering the number of children at the school, the wait time to see any one teacher is not too long, even considering that you did not have an appointment.

The attitude of the staff toward parents is different as well: Ooo, a parent! Thanks for coming! You're interested in your child's education and deportment??? WOW!

I have to tell you that I found Patrick's teachers to be wonderfully committed individuals who genuinely value teaching and education. I really enjoyed speaking with them. I don't think I've found a nasty or judgmental attitude at the Junior High (where Patrick goes to school), or at G's middle school.

G's case manager is the GREATEST EVER! OK, I said that last year about G's case manager last year. She was also the GREATEST EVER! I love the staff at this place. I wish the staff at all the schools were like this. Sigh. I could vote for every bond issue imaginable. I'd even consider putting my Elf and Emperor into public school when they got older. No, really! They're that nice. I *have* had problems with their assigning things that were against the Bible, or wanting to teach "health" or "evolution." But do you know what? I've found when you explain your perspective to them, they really listen and let you opt your kid out of that stuff. I think that's great. :]

I used to feel this sense of community pride about the elementary school until Mr. H left as the principal. It went downhill after that. Some of the staff I just LOVED left because they couldn't handle the new person. The climate changed. Then the school boundaries changed and we got an influx of kids I don't want near my kids. The problem is that I'm an elitist but I don't have the money to move away and act like it. Bummer.

After our conferences, I took Patrick and G to dinner at Wendy's. It was great! I'd urge you to try the Spicy Chicken Sandwich combo with a Frosty. The boys got some sort of 98-layered cheeseburger with bacon on top, three extra JUMBO fries and Oreo Frosties. I don't know how they finished it all, but they did. I felt like we got a lot "done" by getting to both schools and eating dinner on my own schedule. No way I could have done that years ago. It's good to have older children despite what you read about them on the news. They can be genuinely nice people that you actually WANT to spend time with most of the time.

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