Monday, September 9, 2013

Parent Night

This is the only full week of school the 8th graders will have in September.

It's going to be 90+ today and tomorrow. And humid.

This Thursday is the first of two parent nights, and Friday my dad is coming to visit for the weekend.

This first parent night is just for middle school parents, since they visit multiple classes. Next week parents will return to visit all grades (our students start in preschool) and attend a dinner. Typically 8th grade parent attendance drops at nights like these, but I'm predicting that new classrooms combined with many first-time 8th grade parents will lead to a full house.

I like back to school nights like these. I like talking about curriculum and learning. I like talking about books with parents. I like doing all of this without the pressure of grades that sometimes hangs over conferences.

What I don't like is when parents get in my head. You know what I'm talking about. Someone complains, either to you directly or to someone who repeats it you. You start to question yourself ("Should I assign more worksheets?"). You change your plans ("Look, kids, a worksheet! Be sure to take this home to show mom and dad!") Days, weeks, even months pass, and you look around and think "What am I doing?" and you throw all the worksheets in the recycling bin. If you teach in a school with involved parents, then you know what I'm talking about.

I'm undecided about what to say on Thursday. I'll have sixteen minutes since I teach three subjects, and at least some time will need to be spent checking out the new room. I don't want to do what I do every year (expectations, grading scale, homework, attendance policy). They can read that. What I want to do is give them a taste of what really happens in our classroom. We talk about and read books. We write, and learn, and rewrite, and write some more. We study maps. We study the world. And, yes, we try to figure out where the commas go.

Maybe I'll ask the 8th graders what they think we should talk about.


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