Friday, March 24, 2017

Julio Awaits

It's been a non-stop week for me. On Monday I was at UFT Exec. Board, Tuesday our school had School Leadership Team, Wednesday was the UFT Delegate Assembly, and last night was a parent-teacher conference. On TOP of all that, I actually had to show up to work each and every day. In fact, I'm here now as I had to do it again today.

I've been to a lot of parent-teacher conferences and there is a certain art to it. For example, you need to get your message out, listen to the parent's message, and see if you can come to some agreement. This notwithstanding, you have to keep an eye on how many parents are around and calculate just how much time there is. Some of your kids are great, and you just want to sit and talk to them all night, but that can be a problem. There's always some list of parents who don't get to see you, and you need to call each and every one of them in that case.

So you sit and calculate how much time you have, and you conclude the meetings once there seems nothing more to accomplish. Of course, if you have a co-teacher that doesn't always work out. Let's say, for example, that you stand up and say thank you for coming and she doesn't. What exactly is the etiquette for that situation? I'm not sure, but what actually happens is you stand there like an idiot while she concludes the conversation. This can be particularly awkward when the conversation is in Chinese and you haven't got the remotest notion what the hell they're talking about.

If you happen to speak Spanish, you can wreak vengeance by dominating the conversations she doesn't understand. Sadly, that's not a practical strategy. You've got two and a half hours, and after getting up ridiculously early each day and staying out each night, the prime directive has to be getting out on time so you can get that precious 8 minutes of sleep your body craves. So you whisper things like, "We've got eight more parents waiting for us," and hope for the best.

But sometimes things go awry. For example, I rushed my co-teacher to finish with a girl who disappeared semester one, only to return two weeks ago. We didn't really have much to say except she's only been here for two weeks. I later discovered that her dad was about to reveal the mystery of her disappearance and I ended the interview just before it was solved.

Now it's not an ideal situation. One way I prepare is by making actual appointments to see parents of students with major issues before these events. I actually had a conference with a parent Wednesday, and while it may or may not have been successful, at least I didn't have to spend an extra half hour at work last night. Sometimes it's practical to hang out, I suppose, as there could be a parent you really need to connect with. Nonetheless, I managed to get out on time.

My co-teacher, alas, was not so lucky. As chapter leader, I teach four classes rather than five. Some parents of students she teaches solo showed up, and she had to stay. She appealed to my sense of justice. "You're my co-teacher so you have to stay with me," she said. That didn't fly with me.

All my family was out having big fun somewhere or other, and I had priorities. I've got a little boy at home, pictured above, who depends on me. If I didn't get home ASAP, he was going to explode. I rushed home, got Julio out of the house quickly, and all was good with the world.

It's all about priorities.
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