donderdag 23 oktober 2008

Parents and reportcards!

First term is now half way and I am rather relieved. I handed out the first reportcards of the year and that is the first moment that it hits you: parents evening!!! Being a teacher means that you have to communicate not only with pupils, collegues or your principal but also with parents. One of the side-effects of having a job in the education departement and no it is not my favourite cup of tea!

In my last eleven years I have met tons of parents but every time it is a surprise who will turn up and who not. In many cases there are no real surprises and seems it like you are playing the same record over and over. Some parents consider these evenings as a night on the town. They end up telling all their life stories and sometimes it seems like you are rather a shrink!

There are also the stories that belong in a category of their own. And yes, it was bingo last night. I have some colorful parents and most of them are rather realistic if they talk about their own child but you also have the ones who think they their child is enrolled at Zweinstein. And that I am one the one who is going to teach them how to prepare some magic potions to make their learning difficulties vanish into thin air.

'J goes to school here for one year and so far she has learned nothing! And why don't give her more homework!? Five out of ten is so bad for my daughter!! She has got trouble with her IQ but she is not stupid!', were just a few of the sentences that were uttured. I was sitting there just flabergasted and knew that this mother was going to give me a very hard time. I felt so ashamed like I was personally responsible for the fact that her daughter had not turned into a genius! Also my assistant-teacher who was sitting next to me seemed to have a rather hard time trying not open her mouth!

Well, yeah special education is a very nice spot to work. Your pupils keep you focused and they are very grateful audience. It is not a very demanding public because you don't need to explain the latest scientific study. But it seemed that this mother still had her hopes up. She questioned everything and bit by bit I started to feel rather strange. This lady was demanding to make her daughter smarter. Well, how to tell a concerned parent that this is rather mission impossible!?

I told her very calmly that her daughter was trying very hard but that she was having difficulties with understanding everything. J has epileptic fits and there are many times that she did not turn up in class, making it even harder to pick up anything. I don't believe in miracles when I know that kids really try very hard but after three years don't make significant progress. This girl was still not in the dangerous zone and for sure going to graduate in three years time. When she got up ready to leave it suddenly hit me. 'This mother wants to hear something very positive and I am sending her home with a negative feeling!'

I asked her to sit down again and then I explained her once more how our grading system works. J had a 5 out of ten for progress but for attitude and work effort she had a 7 and 8. So for just passing she had worked rather hard with a very positive attitude. 'So if I understand this right I should rather focus on the two other columns?' I nodded and hoped that she would leave now and she did!

My assistant-teacher gave me a rather strange look when she was gone! 'I had to bite the tip of my tongue while she was talking!', was her respone. I nodded got a glass of water and told her to get used to that. V smiled (love that girl, best assistant teacher for years!) and she started to analyse the conversation.

No time to waste the next parent turned up. 'Well, am I happy that my son doesn't have to do that much home work! When he comes home he is so tired of the mental gym that he needs to relax!', were one of his sentences. Perhaps I should have asked him to contact J's mother. Parents are very demanding clients and that is why I always send P off to A's school. I don't want to be their worst nightmare! But then P ends up asking the most stupid questions! I have promised him that I wouldn't mention them on this blog but to be honest it would take a seperate entry to analyse that chat!

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