Friday, October 24, 2014

Parent Teacher Conference Notes

As chapter leader, I get one period off to deal with various and sundry crises, so I only teach four classes. As a matter of fact, since I teach beginning ESL I teach two double period classes, so I have fewer students than most teachers. Add to that the fact that many parents don’t speak English and are shy about coming to school and it’s a pretty slow night.  

I’m fairly amazed at the number of students who came in with their parents without having shown them their report cards. It’s particularly unwise since I’m sitting there with a laptop and can pull them up in an instant. Several students told me they didn’t have time to show their parents the report cards. That’s just hard to fathom. I mean, they are pieces of paper. You put them in your hands and move them to someone else’s hand. It takes no time at all.

I like to get bad news over with quickly, so I have the distinct impression that my kids would have been better off if I hadn’t been the one to do the first reveal. They looked at me as though I were treacherous, unworthy of their trust. Clearly they did not expect me to preface my discussion of how they were doing in my class with an overall view of how they were doing in others. Some were doing better in my class than others, and would probably never speak to me again if it weren’t for the fact that speaking is why they’re actually doing better in my class.

My entire department is in the library, and one of my former students has taken charge of the entire room. She’s concurrently running around like a madwoman and eating donuts. You can tell whenever she approaches because the donut smell somehow follows her around. My student aide is very impressed by that. He’s never met a girl who smelled like a donut before and quite clearly deemed her too good to be true. Aside from the whole donut thing, I’m impressed. When I met her last year she could barely sputter out a single word of English.

My student aide got very bored when the girl who smelled like donuts moved away and parents stopped coming around. He complained quite a bit, but we’re in the library. Why don’t you read a book, I asked. He said he couldn’t read books in English. I dragged him over to the manga section, where he rejected book after book until I pushed a Walking Dead comic in his face. He’s reading it right now. I learned to read with comic books, so why shouldn’t he?

I wonder whether I could effectively teach a comic book in my class. I don’t suppose I could do The Walking Dead. I’m not sure you learn much about character from zombies. I have to find something that the kids would find interesting but which wouldn’t get me fired. I suspect some of the kids’ parents would see me as a slacker, but it would be very cool to get my beginners to read just about anything authentic.

How were your parent teacher conferences?
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