Things They Don't Teach You...

Today was Parent-Teacher Conferences and a reminder that there's plenty of things you don't learn from certification programs, alternative or otherwise. Let's take report cards and the conversations that accompany them. First off, the report card using a system that lends itself to pretty vague and arbitrary marks - 1 is below expectations, 2 approaching, 3 meeting, and 4 exceeding. A 1-4 scale doesn't really lend itself to clarity.

Compounding the problem is the language that is used for each subject, for example, "Reads independently for sustained periods of time." Some teachers might take that to mean a student can choose a "just-right" book, sit down and read for 30 minutes (or 15, or 45). Another teacher might require a student to read a grade level text for sustained periods of time. Maybe some schools have conversations that speak to these issues and establish a standard meaning for these expectations, but I suspect most schools don't.

Meanwhile, Masters programs never really discuss the proper approach to parent-teacher conversations about these difficult documents. Parent reactions can run the gamut from apathetic to irate, and beyond "Start with a positive then move to needs and next steps," there's not a lot a new teacher is told to prepare for these conversations. Sometimes it's hard to know the right thing to say, and while it's always important to be able to improvise, there are definitely a few universal scenarios that play out in parent teacher conferences. A little help would be nice.


They definitely don't prepare you in grad school for the moment where a parent rears back and smacks their kid in the face.

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