“Your Child has Strong Social Skills” Means They Talk Too Much in Class

This week is conference week at M1 and M2’s school. This brings back a lot of memories from when I taught first grade. As I sit across from my boys’ teachers now, I never forget what it felt like to be on the other side of that table as a teacher.

Some conferences turned into therapy sessions and I always kept a box of kleenex close to my chair. Once, I conducted a conference with parents going through a nasty divorce. They didn’t look at each other during the meeting and the tension was so thick I could see it. Sometimes I sat across the table from parents who clearly disliked me and how I was teaching their child. These parents had a private arena to tell me just how awful I was at my job. I had one parent tell me I better remember who paid for my salary. They tried to laugh this off like they were making a joke. I didn’t think it was very funny; it felt more like a threat.

All these memories come flooding into my brain as we (the LOML and I go together) sit at my sons’ conferences. The LOML and I have over two decades of working in education between us, so we both know what it’s like to be the teacher in a conference situation. We know what the teacher is really saying when they try to sugar coat something. As we say in the Calandro Clan, we speak fluent Teacher. We’ve been there; done that. Here’s a few things we’ve learned through the years and a few tips for a productive conference with your child’s teacher. 

  • Be on time and prepared for the conference. Listen carefully. Take notes if you need to. Pay attention to what the teacher is saying and what they aren’t saying. Go in with specific questions and examples if you need them.
  • Ask for the truth if you think you are hearing Teacher Speak. Teachers need to choose their words carefully, but if you aren’t getting a clear picture of what’s going on, get clarification, even if it hurts. Your child’s education and progress is worth a bit of discomfort.
  • If you aren’t happy with the conference or feel you want more time, don’t try to take it during the conference. Causing your conference time to go longer than scheduled throws eveyone else off. If you are the last conference of the day don’t abuse this time to take forty-five minutes when everyone else got thirty. Politely ask to schedule another time to talk.
  • Remember teachers are humans first, teachers second. No one is perfect. Everyone has an off day. Perhaps the conference before yours was a minefield and the teacher had zero time to recover from it. Yes, they are a professional, but circumstances can get difficult quickly during a conference. When in doubt, give the teacher the benefit of the doubt. If you really feel the conference didn’t give you what you needed, politely ask for another. 
  • Ask what you can be doing at home and how you can work with the teacher as a team. Yes, it is the teacher’s responsibility to teach your child at school, but your home environment effects how your child feels about school and education. Make it a priority and be sure your child knows education matters.
  • Most importantly, say thank you to the teacher for their time. Yes, they are doing the job they are hired to do, but everyone likes to be acknowldged for a job well done. Saying thank you goes a long way.
  • If you really want to blow your teacher’s mind, bring them dinner. Every year I bring dinner to each of my sons’ teachers so they don’t have to go home and cook for themselves. Conference week is one of the most grueling and exhausting weeks of the entire school year for all the reasons I mentioned earlier. Bringing dinner is an outstanding way to say thank you.

Most of the time, I enjoyed the opportunity to meet with the parents of my students when I was a teacher. I loved telling Moms and Dads how far their child progressed from the beginning of the year. One thing parents all have in common: we are all proud of our kids. A good teacher works to help each student find ways to be proud of themselves and work to the best of their abilities, and even beyond. Good luck with your parent-teacher conferences! I hope they go well.

Comments (12)

  1. Ann Venn

    Eileen,

    Beautifully said! I remember sitting at conferences with you and what a great teacher you were. Wow…I never made a teacher a dinner…what a great idea! You are an amazing writer and I am sure…an even better mother! I wish all my parents could read your post! Thanks for the great read!!

    :)Ann Venn

    Reply
    1. Eileen (Post author)

      Oh my gosh, Ann! Coming from you, that is one of the best compliments I could receive. I have always admired you as a teacher and parent. You taught me how to be a supportive parent to all my boys’ teachers. Thank you so much for everything you just shared. And feel free to share this link with anyone you want -maybe I should discreetly send it to a few of your parents! ;)

      Reply
  2. Lolita

    you rock. that’s all :)

    ok — one ps: awesome tip on bringing dinner for the teachers! I might just have to borrow that idea!

    Reply
    1. Eileen (Post author)

      Thanks, Love! Please take dinner to the teachers! I’d be honored if you spread some of that love to the folks lucky enough to teach your beautiful boys. All our teachers love it. It’s such a great way to say thank you. I’ve even taken wine when I know the teachers really well. Wahoo!

      Reply
  3. Paul

    one of my teachers once told my parents “Paul, he’s an interesting character”
    It was a horticulture class, where I complained about being used as ‘slave labour.’
    I was a bit of a handful!

    Great words of advice above!

    Reply
    1. Eileen (Post author)

      HA! Yes, Paul. I’m sorry to tell you, the word “interesting” is definitely a code word for something else. And when that word is combined with “character”, that means you were probably a pain in the neck! You know I only can say this because I adore you and think you’re wonderful. xoxoxo Also -Jim Carey made all his teachers bonkers. It’s been well documented. Non-conformity for the win! Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  4. alecia

    Once again, you’ve inspired me to be a better mom, parent, HUMAN!! <3

    Reply
    1. Eileen (Post author)

      Awww. *blushing* Thanks, Dear! You inspire me every day. I’m happy to return the feeling. xoxo

      Reply
  5. Ciaran/Momfluential

    Great post. I’ll try to keep it all in mind when I go to my conference. The last one I went to was 7 minutes because the parent before me went so far over, and the teacher told me not to bother with the present one. Perhaps she will find time to chat if I bring a pie? I feel for the poor overworked teachers. I do. But it made me ever so sad when she said she didn’t need to “bother” with a conference for my son. Like he didn’t matter. :(

    Reply
    1. Eileen (Post author)

      Oh no! That could have been presented to you in such a different manner. Interestingly, we didn’t schedule a conference with our oldest son this time, but we were given the option. It was communicated really positively and we decided we didn’t need it. I’m so sorry that happened for you. Definitley get some face time with that teacher! Especially since you only got such a short amount of time for the last conference. And go for it with the pie -it couldn’t hurt! You are such a great Mom and your son definitely matters! -thanks for sharing here!

      Reply
  6. Kristin

    Wow! Wonderfully said Eileen! Yes…you have inspired me too! Thanks for the great post!

    Reply
    1. Eileen (Post author)

      Thanks for these kind words, Kristin. Hopefully we can share stories of motherhood in person someday soon. Wouldn’t that be awesome?!?! I’d love it!

      Reply

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