04 November, 2013

Mixed feelings about parent-teacher interviews

We're coming to the end of this year's 2 1/2 days of parent-teacher "conferences" (we used to call them "interviews" when I was growing up). I just went back and read my post from last year's 2 1/2 days and not too much has changed.
Our eldest son's maths classroom last year.

Today I spent nearly three hours hearing from teachers (about a dozen of them) about my three boys. I come away with mixed feelings.

Great things
I heard lots of great things (all boys have well above average marks in almost everything) including, what was becoming a family-theme "he makes great connections between things". A school "in phrase" that means something like this:

"You're learning about how birds fly and you make the connection to how aeroplanes fly."


"You're reading a story in class set in ancient Romans and you discover they had a Senate. You make the connection between that and the Senate you've heard about in Australian politics."

It is the key to good conversations. For an example: Someone bemoans that they're having a bad hair day and you followup with a story about Japanese hairdressers. And the trail moves onto weddings and the hairstyles, ending up with challenges that you've faced in your marriage. That's an awesome conversation!

Not so great things
I also heard some not-so-great things, which is inevitable. But almost none of it was a surprise. It was interesting to have our first high school interviews. We discovered that while our high schooler had appeared to be coping very well with the change, there has been a little bit of disorganisation and last-minute assignment completion going on. That's not really surprising either.

Then the challenge is, what do you do with all this "newly" acquired information about how your kids could perform/behave better at school? I'm an invested observer, but not always with the power to "fix" the problems.

The other challenging thing about having interviews at school is that my husband is also seeing parents. So, while we worked pretty hard to get clear time for him to be present at interviews with me, inevitably he was popping off here and there to see other parents. Thankfully I'm not a teacher too, or it could have gotten seriously messy. (Read here for parts 1 and 2 posts about other challenges/joys in being a staff wife.

One teacher we saw teaches all three of our boys, and is also a wrestling coach. Before we sat down we clarified which hat he was to wear while we talked to him!

I did get a bit of a jolt when the physical science teacher (a subject that combines physics and chemistry that all year 9 students do) asked about what sciences our son would like to do next year. Then realised that we wouldn't be around and we all wondered how this was going to work. It is a slippery subject that we've been trying to get our heads around: not just going to Australia and switching education systems, but coming back and how CAJ will deal with whatever subjects he's done in Australia. It is a bit of a mystery to us, even with the CAJ Head of Science in our house. I'll keep you posted!

So then, after a crazy morning of interviews, I've had a crazy afternoon of boys at home on a wet day. For some reason they've been "more boy" than usual. More noisy, more reckless, more disrespectful, more sudden, more . . . MORE. (And if you feel like I'm yelling, I am. It hasn't been that fun, and I'm pretty tolerant of boys most days.) I'm looking forward to my husband coming home tonight!

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