Yeah, yeah, it’s overrated. The parents you don’t need to talk to are the ones who always show up. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to talk to them, to be able to tell them how wonderful their children are. And they need to hear it from the teacher once in a while. They are the ones who will sign their kids up for extra free tutoring, because they can. Not because their child NEEDS it. They are involved, they read to their kids, they interact with their kids. Generally GOOD parents, and GOOD kids.
Then there are the rest of them. Some of them love their kids, want the best for their kids, but don’t have the skills or the time to do it. We are a Title One school and as such a lot of our families don’t have a lot of material things and if the parents are working, they are generally working a lot. Parent/Teacher conferences can help these parents, if they have the time.
The frustrating ones are the ones who probably never should have had kids in the first place. The kids are street smart, sometimes REALLY street smart, but have no clue about book smart. No one has ever read a book to these kids, they have no number sense, they have no fine motor skills. They have been raising themselves since they were toddlers. They’ve watched movies and video of things that I have NEVER seen, and never will, These parents don’t show up, don’t return calls, don’t help with homework, don’t sign their kids up for tutoring (and their kids NEED tutoring). They don’t understand what their part is in the whole education of their children. They often had a less than stellar experience in school themselves. They have a hazy idea of what their responsibilities are as parents. And yet they have these kids, and we are supposed to teach them.
By the end of the week, I will have talked to so many parents I won’t remember what I’ve said to who. Sometimes that happens during the conversation. “Have we talked about this already?” Some of them will have been highly enjoyable discussions about great kids. Some I will come away from dissatisfied, nothing will be resolved, and nothing will change. And with some I will have had little to no discussion at all.
I came to teaching later in life. I was about 40. I’ve been doing it fo 20 years now. My first 4 years were kindergarten, two half day sessions of about 30 kids each. We still have about 30 in a class, but now at least it’s a full day class and only one class. So many of these kids I wish I could take home, clean them up, feed them, read to them, take care of them. I think to myself, they would be so much better off. But the funny thing is, most of them LOVE their parents, those less than perfect people who brought them into the world and sort of take care of them. For most, if given the choice, they would stay with who they love. Would they like those flawed parents to be better? Sure, they don’t want to see daddy beat up mommy, but they love them.
How strange is that? I just have to believe that some of what I can do as a teacher will make a difference. Read this. It’s a great post about making a difference as a teacher.