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parent conferences

PHEW! Is anyone else glad the week is over! Not going to lie, I am beat!

So, I have blogged on here about the common core and the myths.  I have blogged about data.  This week, it was talked about many times during my conferences.  I have made several observations about our educational system this week. Here they are:

  1.  Parents become easily upset when their child does not get all Es for excellent.  Oh yes, it is true.  Surprise, your child is not perfect.  When they asked about it, I was very honest and said…..this is the first ten weeks of school and they are still adjusting to what is expected in third grade.  Third grade is a HUGE jump from second.  We go from oral learning to writing our responses..and using evidence.  Your child has an S, which means satisfactory.  An S is not bad – and it is HARD to maintain that E. I think some got it, and I think some just did not but we then went on to the real reason we have conferences – to discuss ways to help your child and to show parents what their child has been doing. To show progress. By the way, if they are making progress that is good which is S (satisfactory).
  2. Parents do not understand the data – SURPRISE!  I do NOT make copies of my STAR data charts to give to parents.  I do share them with parents.  I also share them with my students.  I do not give them copies as it has way too much info on there that is not parent friendly, and quite frankly….they do not get all of it.  It all stays in my happy little data binder. I do share the graphs so they can see if their child is making progress, and if they are following their “trend line” that the computer sets.  However, some parents are like ohhhh what is my child’s lexile level.  Again, I show them IF they ask.  The reason is because I do believe that the exile levels are inflated.  I asked our reading teacher, who is a great friend of mine, about this.  She said that they are inflated.  So, when those parents ask…..the next question is…what does that mean?? HAHA. I knew that was coming.  Why are people worried about numbers. This is ONE piece of DATA!  But I do explain. However I am also honest with them and tell them it can be inflated.  I have some that I have to share their graph and tell the parents that I do not think it is a TRUE picture.  This is true, especially when I show them the book their child is reading in their guided reading group, and show them the questions they have been answering.  Again, lets look at AUTHENTIC assessment, and not computerized.
  3. Parents are still upset over Common Core-especially the math.  When I shared the Common Core module assessments that their child took a few weeks ago – again they wanted a number.  They did not want a rubric, they wanted a number.  I was calm and explained again, that the rubric tells us what standards they are learning and mastering.  If they need a little more work, etc.  Most did calm down.  I also am very honest and tell the parents that I do like how they need to have a conceptual understanding of the math.  I remember learning multiplication where we just had to memorize facts.  I did it, but I had no idea the reasoning behind it.  Now, they are starting to understand the reasoning.  Yes, I did just send my kids home with flashcards and yes, they are starting to get timed fact quizzes, but that is because once you understand the concept then you should not have to draw arrays all of the time, etc.  Most parents did calm down.  Most parents were very happy that I do not send home any common core math homework.  Rest assured, it helped me to understand my homework theory again – they get a 4 square – which is a lot of spiral review – right now subtraction, addition, time, and word problems.  They are struggling with that – psssst parents it is still common core though :-P.
  4. For the most part, parents were every respectful once things were explained. They have to understand that each year the work gets harder.  Also, I am big on their child becoming a responsible learner. I can NOT make your child learn the material. They have to want to learn it.  We do all that we can to convince them of it, and believe me most of my class is doing well with this.
  5. Some families are going through tough times.  This is what breaks my heart.  I have one family – they are living in a hotel and have been.  I knew it from conversations with their child.  I was so so so happy the mom came.  I really did not think I would see a parent.  I was also so  grateful that she was honest and came in and just let it out.  I calmly explained to her that her daughter had told me and I was aware of it.  I thanked the mom for telling me and we talked about how yes, this is showing up in her daughter’s work – however that is to be expected.  She is fragile right now, she is 8.  It is NOT the child’s fault.  In this case, it is not even the parents fault. They are trying so hard.  We talked about ideas and strategies to try and keep things as normal as possible.  Also, she was given some Duffy Books so that her child can keep reading – which her daughter LOVES to do. But, when you have a fire and lose stuff and you can’t get you house to pass inspection so you can move back in – you need to find outlets.   Her daughter was very happy as the next day she came in and thanked me.  It really is the little things.  We need to be understanding and think about how we would feel if we were our students.
  6. We need MORE mental health services in our schools.  We need to get rid of the stigma that mental health services are bad and means that we have “crazies”.  I had a very lengthy conference – an hour and a half people!!! It was my last conference.  Do not get me wrong, I had this feeling it was going to be bad.  I was glad that I had the reading teacher with me for support, and also glad the child came.  We called him in and asked him questions.  He almost broke down.  I am not going to lie.  I was hoping he would.  I wanted his mom to see how angry he is.  I explained how he is not going to produce anything academic because he is so angry right now.  He has every right to be.  He has gone through some horrific stuff.  Of course the mom blamed it on the dad, etc.  IT was not going well.  I did say though, that we seriously may have to consider outside services and possibly an alternative placement.  That did get moms ears to perk, but she quickly went to finding excuses.  I am not sure what is going to happen.  This has been going on since the kid was in kinder, so I do not have my hopes up. But, now I have documentation to back me up when we have another meeting on him.

So, that was my week.  It was long.  They are long nights, especially when you are teaching during the day.  I am VERY happy to say that I had 100% though.  I think this is the first time in a long time that everyone showed up for their conference. For that, I am truly happy.  I do believe that people want to care about their child, we just need to make school a friendlier place where parents can feel welcomes and not overwhelmed. Face it, we teachers are overwhelmed with all of the changes going on.  These parents are just as overwhelmed too. Many feel they can’t help their child because they were not taught this same way.  As I have said in previous blogs, we NEED to change our schools culture and until we do that, we are going to have some uneasy moments.

Well, the weekend is here.  I am totally trying to relax and get myself back together.  Two days and then break.  We can do this!

Have a great weekend!