In the last 8 days I have dealt with students fighting each other, teachers and support staff undermining my authority in front of my students, assessment writing, leadership team meeting preparations and insomnia. I might add that this is just the short list. I will be sure to share some more of these things in due time. Tonight, I want to tell you about Parent Teacher Interviews.
Last week I scratched my nose. This happens from time to time when I have sinus and use lots of tissues. This scratch is not such a big deal, but it kind of looks like a small pimple. I also booked in 3 parents who wanted to meet me on Parent teacher night. I teach approximately 30 students. So, this equates to a 10% rate of interview attendance. Don't get me started on the fact that every single child in my class is probably failing English and/or Maths in their mainstream classes. Don't get me started on the fact that these kids desperately need to care and to be supported by an adult. They need to learn how to read. They need to make an effort. Anyway... like I said, I won't get started.
So this morning, I got up (nervous enough) and found that the small scratch on my nose had erupted into a big red mark.
Okay it didn't look that bad.
So, off I went to school. I had done my best. I chose a professional outfit. I did something with my hair and I had notes on all my students. My morning was rushed. There was no real reason for this, except that the to do list got longer and longer. My first lesson was with a group of low decoders and we were doing the "f" sound. Then we did the "ck" sound. I'm sure you can imagine some of the words my 13 year old darlings were brainstorming by the end of my lesson. LOL
The photocopier wouldn't work and it took 30 minutes to copy my ppt slides onto OHT's. Don't get me started on the fact that I was promised a data projector at Easter and six months later I am still waiting. You haven't lived until you have opened up a photocopier and backward fed two overhead transparencies through it. You also haven't lived until you stand at the Library Office door and beg the Library Teacher Aid to please please please come and help you copy onto the transparencies before your next lesson.
Then, the first 15 minutes of my lesson was spent dealing with a student who chose to completely ignore my directions. I understand that sometimes our kids feel a bit silly. But when a 14 year old is requested to move sensibly into the classroom without touching other students or annoying them... I expect them to follow that direction. When the whole class is practising the skill of entering the classroom safely and after three tries the rest of the class has got it, I expect that the child who still can't do it, will listen when I say their name and tell them to stop pushing. I expect them to walk sensibly into the classroom. I do not believe that these expectations are unreasonable. My student believed differently.
I recorded behaviour issues from the past two days on the department database and when I clicked on the next window to record my contact with the parents, the database platform program froze and I was unable to save the data. Another 30 minutes, down the drain. Then I had a meeting with my head of department without an agenda... what did we talk about? what is next? what do I have to do as a result of this meeting? If you know, could you tell me please?
So, by the time I am supposed to meet the first parent. Instead of looking like this...
Cool, Calm, Collected Learning Support Professional with knowledge and experience relating to student literacy and numeracy development and appropriate intervention programs for advancing skills.
I looked more like this....
The crazy lady in the corner who can't find her hair brush, has an unusual red mark on her nose, can't hold her head up let alone find the file or student list she has been looking for since 8 am and doesn't have a pen.
Fortunately, the parents didn't seem to notice and were, thankfully, more interested in their child's behaviour and progress than they were in the BIG RED MARK on my NOSE!
It has been one of those days! As you can tell. But, I made it. :) I'm home. I'm in my PJ's. Phew!
I know that my hair style and my nose doesn't change how I teach. I know that my knowledge and experience are far more important than how I look. I know that the parents who attend parent teacher night want to know how their child is going and how they can help their kid succeed. I know that they probably understand that I have been dealing with children and other parents and systemic issues all day. But I still get nervous.
I'm sure I'm not alone.
I could give you a "survival guide" for parent teacher night. But instead I will say this. Be as prepared as you can be. Know where the files are and write down something positive about each student whose parent you are meeting. Do what you have to do to get through it. Know that most other teachers feel exactly the same way you do. Then... Relax!