Thursday, October 11, 2012

Where Are the Parents?

I'm sitting in my room enjoying the peace and quiet, but at the same time I'm disappointed I'm not inundated by parents wanting to talk to me. It's parent/teacher conference time, but you'd never know it by looking at the empty hallways. I know it is still early in the day, but over the course of my 23+ year teaching career, I've noticed my conference numbers are decreasing dramatically. It seems that the draw of attending conferences is dwindling with time.

Is it possible that giving parents online access to their student's grades is sending the message that attending conferences isn't necessary anymore? I love the idea that parents can get up-to-date information on their student's progress simply by going to a website, but that face-to-face time with teachers is still important. There are things that need to be discussed that don't appear in a letter grade or percentage. I love having parents sit down with me so that I can encourage and uplift them - after all, I only have angels for students. An added benefit to having that face-to-face conversation is that it builds a connection with parents. It gives them the opportunity to put a face with a name. After a parent leaves my room, I become less of the stereotypical teacher (we all have preconceived ideas about what a teacher is) and more of a human being.

Attending conferences sends a message to students. It says, "Hey, Son (or daughter), I care about how you're doing in school." When students know that their parents care and are checking up on them, they typically work harder and do better. When they know that someone is watching out for them, they want to do what they can to prove themselves worthy of that caring. So if that's the case, what message does NOT attending send? Therein lies my discouragement.

Come on parents...don't leave me AND YOUR CHILD hanging. Get involved. Show them that you care and that a good education is important.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Mid-Term Already?

I cannot believe we are already midway through the first trimester of this school year. Things are going really well and the days seem to fly by. It is encouraging to see my students coming to class excited to learn new things.

Each day this past week has been a crazy and chaotic one. It was "Homecoming Week" and each day was assigned a special theme. A great number of students and staff participated, and I enjoyed seeing the creative ways they carried out each theme.  

This week my 8th grade students began working on their first big project - Dream Vacation - and I have thoroughly enjoyed watching them embrace the project full force. It is a collaboration project that requires them to break down a daunting assignment into small, manageable pieces. They were a little unsure of themselves at first, but once they found their groove, they soared! It was awesome to listen to their conversations and to see them work together. An added benefit of the project was seeing them make the connection between their "dream vacation" and an actual vacation. Once they started figuring the cost of food, gas, and lodging, I heard more than one student say, "Wow! This is really expensive! I feel sorry for my parents!"  They have worked really hard this week, and I can't wait to see their presentations on Monday!

Since I teach a second class - of 6th & 7th graders - I'd better be an equal opportunity blogger. These classes are looking at the more advanced features of PowerPoint. It was quite a challenge teaching classes with such a wide variety of skills knowledge, but we managed to get through it without drawing blood or tears (from me). Having such diversity in one class makes finding a good balance difficult. But I have awesome students who are quick to help those who struggle to keep up. It makes my job so much easier when a student says, "I can help him do that!" If everyone in the world shared that quality, we would have a much more fruitful society.

So, as I look back and reflect on this week, I find a lot to smile about. No wonder the weeks are flying by...time flies when you're having fun.