Thursday, April 03, 2008

Conferences: Who should be saying thank you?

We had our final conferences of the year last week, and there is something I've started to do at them the last couple of years that I had never done before. And I should have been doing it all along.

There are some students who are an absolute pleasure to have in class. They are conscientious, they are polite, they always seem to have smiles on their faces, and they are often a very positive influence on other kids in their classes. I have one sophomore this year who is the youngest of four children. I have had them all, and every one of them has been like that. It seems pretty obvious that parents of kids like this must be doing something very right.

It is consistently the parents of kids like this who show up for conferences, and then at the end, they will frequently thank me for all I have done. They thank me? Shouldn't I be the one thanking them? I finally figured that out, and so now I thank those parents for having such great kids and trusting our school with them. Parents always look so surprised when I do that, but why should they be?

I don't think it's ever been harder to be a parent than it is today. There are a myriad of influences coming from our society that work against what any good parent wants for their kids. Yet, they manage to overcome all of it. And if my blog has proven anything the last few weeks, it's that good parents don't have to send their kids to public schools. There ARE other options. So if you teach in a public school, the next time you see parents of one of those great kids that make teaching so rewarding, remember who is the one who should be saying, "Thank you!"


Blogger Mrs. C said...


I can't tell you how we appreciate the good teachers who pour themselves into their profession and genuinely attempt to be fair in dealing with problems.

I always take my children with me to the conferences, which I think the teachers DON'T like. Sorry, but it's THEIR education and THEY need to hear what is being said. "Patrick," for instance, will be an adult in three years and Mom is just there to support HIS endeavours.

Do you see kids there?

4/03/2008 5:55 PM  
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4/04/2008 1:38 AM  
Blogger Dennis Fermoyle said...

Mrs. C., more and more parents are bringing their kids with them to conferences. I can understand why parents do that, but I must confess to a certain amount of discomfort when they do.

First of all, many of the kids look like they are absolutely being dragged along, and would rather be anywhere else in the world. When I am meeting with someone who is obviously uncomfortable, that tends to make me a little uncomfortable. When students seem fine with being there, I'm a lot more comfortable, too. But there are also times when I end up witnessing a family feud at my table, and that is definitely embarrassing.

All of that being said, the teacher's comfort level at a conference should be a very, very low priority. As I said before, I understand parents' reasons for bringing the students along, so if they want to do that and it makes me a little uncomfortable, too bad! If it works for you, Mrs. C., keep on doing it.

4/04/2008 4:52 AM  
Anonymous Zeke said...

Kids at conferences makes sense unless they are there to listen uncomfortably while their parents feud or have unrealistic expectations. Sometimes, I've started with the student and then they have left for practice, etc., while the conference continues - can be better than all with or all without.

Say, Dennis, I just read about Warroad hockey and Henry Boucha in Charlie Pierce's book on 'inside the book' on Amazon - I assume that is your Warroad?

4/05/2008 6:11 AM  
Blogger Dennis Fermoyle said...

Yes, Zeke, that is my Warroad. I grew up in Minneapolis, however, and went to Southwest High School, and played hockey there. We made it to the state tournament in 1969 and were beaten in the first round by guess who? That's right; Henry Boucha and the Warroad Warriors 4-3. Henry was the best high school hockey player I ever saw, and it's tragic that his NHL career was cut short the way it was. From 2003-2006 I coached Henry's son, J.P.. It's a small world.

4/05/2008 9:46 AM  
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