I have ZERO idea about the following:
- The bureaucracy behind the education plan that my children are currently involved in
I admit that. I do not know if teachers want to teach more than teaching to the test. I do not know if teachers have tried to teach more than the test. I do not know and I am not getting the answers. I am also not sure that I want the answers.
Here is what I do know:
- I know what my children are good at and bad at in school subjects.
- I can tell by looking at an assignment when a child of mine is interested, distracted, learned something, or just gave up
- I know what my children are learning because I talk to them everyday about school
- I know that my children are not telling me everything. First, they are children so what is important to relay to me and what I feel is important are different and second, there are social aspects that I am not there to see, and do not want to be there for, but the teacher is.
So when I go to a parent-teacher conference here is what I want to know:
- I want confirmation from the teacher of what I see from homework and grades coming home; i.e. is my child good at X or bad at X
- I want to hear a plan of action regarding said child’s affinity or deficiency in a subject
- I want to hear from the teacher what kind of student my child is: do they pay attention, are they fidgety, and so on. Hearing these things from the teacher’s POV assists me at home when working on homework and understanding why my child likes to do one thing over another. It also helps me help the teacher by addressing issues at home, where I stress that their behavior in class is important.
- I want to hear from the teacher how my child is doing socially. Does my child have friends? Is my child acting out? Hell, anything, I do not see the social and I would like to know. I do not need details, but if my child is having social issues good or bad.
- I want to hear what my child is LEARNING. NOT what test my child is preparing for. LEARNING!
Here is what I DO NOT want to hear from a teacher:
- That is just how it is
- I do not know what the test actually means and before anyone gets bothered by that, I have gotten that answer several times from teachers when I ask, “What does this test mean? It is great that one test can do science, comprehension, and math, but how does that one score break up amongst the topics? In other words, is that 88 an average, or is there a breakdown of what my child really did?”
- We are teaching math and spelling. This was said, as if there was no other subject. I get it that a solid foundation of math and spelling will set a child up well, BUT and this is an important BUT there is plenty of technology that makes up for math and spelling. Heads up, I am a horrible speller, but I write a lot and unless you see my notes you would never know. Where are the other subjects, any other subjects?
Maybe I am asking to much. I do not think I am. I know that children should be learning more. How do I know this? I am in college. I am in college as a 44 year old who watches the just out of school children struggle daily with anything and everything that is not testable. Thinking about something does not seem to be an option. Thinking about things and stuff, seems to be a skill that they have to learn and learning it in college is a bit to late and a serious disservice to them.
I worry about my children’s education.
Having my child “lead” the conference sounds like a good idea. Except that I already knew what was going to be said. I knew this because I talk to both of my children everyday. I wanted to know what I did not know. I wanted to LEARN about my child. The teacher eventually took part, but by that point I was frustrated with what I was hearing and seeing and the teacher could tell. The conference ended on a positive note, the teacher did give us information that we had been asking about for five years now.