This week was rough, and for only one reason: it was back-to-school night. Ugh. Back-to-school night is when parents come, listen to you talk, and ask you questions. All the questions are about how you conduct the class, so you’re predisposed to be defensive about it.
I had a parent who kept saying there wasn’t enough time for math. I said that I understood (I really do!), but that if we add time to math, we have to take away from another subject and we need to have time for all four core subjects. She just kept shaking her head saying that we needed more than an hour for math.
Then, 20 minutes later the same parent said that we needed to have art integrated into the school day. I was a bit speechless because I’m sure that if I had art listed as one of the periods, she would have suggested cutting it to make more time for math. I was so confused!
The other thing about back-to-school night that’s rough is that all the parents are asking questions about their child. Parents can’t help it. They don’t care how the rest of the class is doing, they care about the issues that pertain to their child. But, I can’t answer questions about their child for two reasons
1) The principal doesn’t want me to talk about personal matters. It’s about school policy and class rules.
2) If parents really thought about it, they wouldn’t want other parents to hear private information about their child.
For instance, if a parent hypothetically says that he notices his child never remembers his homework and what am I going to do about it, does the parent really want every other parent to hear: “I have 21 children and your child is the one that consistently forgets his homework”?
Of course not!
So, I’m stuck in this weird limbo situation where I can either answer that person’s question and embarrass him (not good) or fumble around and give a non-answer so as not to embarrass the parent and embarrassing me in the process (also not good.)
I almost always opt for the latter. So, the parents go home thinking that I’m an idiot, I go home thinking that I really don’t like back-to-school night and feeling bad about all the questions that sound accusatory to me (because I feel defensive about the way I do things).
Ironically, the situation will swap in a few weeks. Parent-teacher conferences will be in October and the whole subject of THAT discussion will be the child, not me.
So, the parents get to feel scared and defensive and I ask questions and talk about their child.