August 22, 2009

First Contact

Mister Teacher's school tried a pre-school open house this year. I was thinking it was a cool idea, and that we should do it at our school, too. My children's elementary school always does it--this year for only an hour! We never go, though, because I send them to grandma's the week before school. So, we're one of THOSE families who doesn't not participate.

Meeting students and parents before school starts would be cool!


I did meet about 40 students and their parents this week.

At my school, we had two morning sessions where students come in to pick up their schedules, arrange transportations, sign up for free/reduced lunch, and purchase things they need and want: IBMYP Workbook, student planner, PE clothes, school shirts. They also had the opportunity to order THE YEARBOOK for lowest price it will ever be!

So, while most of my colleagues were working in their classrooms and attending "mandatory" department and team meetings, I was camped out in the cafeteria for 8 hours in two days peddling yearbooks.

Knowing that I will be meeting parents, I always try to look especially professional (in casual clothing) and act nice as pie. First impressions, you know.

This year, I had some time to conference with parents, too.

I brought out the tough love on two different boys because each of their parents said they did not do well in English last year. In both cases, it was not because English was their weakest subject either. I invited them to sit down right then, and I said, "Let's have our first conference right now." That's when we established that we weren't dealing with an ability issue but an attitude issue. It's a new year. A fresh start. We don't have time for shenanigans. AND, it's a waste of brain.

Honestly, I can't remember all the students and parents I met, as I chatted up many more than just students and parents, but one particular man stood out to me. The poor guy looked a little worn down by his 3 middle school sons--one in each grade. Apparently he has one more son, and I'm betting he's older, or surely he would have been tagging along. The boys were not at all unruly or disrespectful, but they all had this look. They are rough and tumble, mischievous boys. It's not often one sees a dad worn down his boys. Girls...yes. Moms get worn down by all of them. But dads? Maybe they are hard on their sons, as they are easily disappointed, but rarely are they worn down.

I had a nice conversation with the dad, plus we had an impromptu conference with the 8th grade son. I know already have a strong ally this year. The boy won't be a behavior problem; he's not that kind of kid. I know his kind. He's just a goofball who is bright enough but will try to slide by with as little as possible. But now that his dad and teacher know each other...well, I wish him luck with that.

It took all of five minutes to make that ally, and learn about a parent who probably needs a "kudos" calls from time to time.

How hard would it be to make five-minute allies with all of my parents?

(Well, allies with them all except that one who was smiling sweetly when she said she'd be in constant contact with me. "I'm just a super-involved parent!" Something tells me if we have to talk that often, it won't be to tell me what a great job I'm doing.)

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