Tonight is parent-teacher conference at the jr. high I taught at last year. Insert manic giggles here. The picture at the left seems a little bit out of touch. Why? All three people in the picture are smiling and the kid is happy to be there.
As a Home Ec teacher (sewing the first year at the high school, foods and Teen Living the second year at the jr. high), parents are not overly concerned about seeing me. Science, Math and English teachers have lines that stretch from the teacher to Oklahoma, while I sit patiently at my location to have someone to talk to. Like a puppy waiting to be adopted.
Don't get me wrong, there are good things about it. The best is that all day long you can threaten the students with, "Tonight is parent-teacher conference. It would behoove you to follow directions today." That one gets them quiet and cooperative for at least five minutes before returning to their normal behavior. And I like using the word behoove.
PT Conference is also a good way to understand why your students are the way they are. The disrespectful vandal from second period is accompanied by an angry-looking parent who, before sitting down, demands, "Why is my kid getting an F in your class? It's cooking! Anyone can do that!" I take that moment to leaf through and find the student's progress report so that I can show exactly why their kid is failing. "Well, as you'll see from the list of assignments Billy hasn't turned in, he spends less time doing his class work than he does trying to set fire to it." At this point the parent is more submissive and says they didn't know that. You can guarantee that the student had given the reason "she hates me."
PT Conference is also wonderful time to see a child being meek. You'll never see it on some of them, otherwise. That's when the fear takes over that you're going to tell the parent about the dough-throwing episode or the switching sugar with salt debacle.
Those, however, are the parents you really want to see. Generally, the only parents who show up are the ones whose children have a solid A and are asking for extra credit to make sure it stays that way. It's great to see the "good" kids' parents, but the ones who really need to talk about their kids don't come nearly so often. I wish that part were funny rather than true.