Tonight we have parent-teacher conferences at Park Hill High School. This will be my first experience with parents without the assistance of a more experienced teacher than myself. Previously, the only experience I have had was during my time at Liberty, where I conducted conferences with parents alongside Doug Winkler, my cooperating teacher. I do not foresee any complications with parents, because I am teaching four sections of Advanced Placement United States History. Therefore, these students are generally those who have a genuine desire to learn the history of America.
Park Hill conducts their conferences a bit differently than Liberty. At Liberty, the teachers go to their assigned table and hope a parent or two shows up. In contrast, parents at Park Hill have prearranged when they plan on meeting with the teacher. This is good, because I have an idea of how busy my evening is going to be. As I am sitting in the gymnasium at a table designated as mine, by the folded manila card stock with my name on it, I can see parents coming and going, sitting and standing, nodding in agreement with whatever the teacher is saying. And it makes me stop and think about the life of a teacher.
As a teacher, thus far in my career, I get up early, teach to 50 - 60 students a day, spend multiple hours after school preparing for the next day, go home, kiss the wife, and fall asleep around 8:00 or 9:00. Then, the alarm goes off at 5:45am and I begin the cycle all over. So, as I am watching all that is going on around me, I am wondering, "What sort of an impact am I really making?" "What do these parent teacher conferences really accomplish?" I would like to think that meeting the parents will motivate them to meet with their student at home to improve their performance in the classroom. Or do these conferences merely allow the parents face time with their student's teachers so the parent can feel comforted by the fact that their students is not being taught by an incompetent individual, ignorant to the content of the classroom?
For me, meeting the parents allow give me a better understanding of my students. There are some parents, who, once you have met them, all questions or concerns about their student are immediately answered. Other parents leave me with more questions about their student than when I first began. I think that this experience will be one more thing to prepare me for my full time teacher position, wherever that may be. I hope that, in the future, I am able to take the lessons I have learned here and at Liberty and apply them to influence the students in the most positive and efficient way. If you are a teacher and have similar experiences or advice for a green teacher, like myself, please feel free to share your comments or stories by commenting to this blog.