February 4, 2010

Conferences, Round 2

Today was one of those rare days that, against all odds, turns out happy.  It definitely didn't start that way though!  First, I woke up at 3am from a horrible, cold-sweats nightmare about today's parent conferences (seriously that bad!!), then woke up 50 minutes after my alarm went off.  Normally I would just throw my hair in a ponytail, grab something clean, and make my way out the door, but what with those pesky conferences I figured I should at least try to not show up smelly and looking like a 12 year old.  Thanks to a resourceful method of holding the blow dryer in one hand and eating pancakes with the other (I promise I'm not making this up), I somehow was ready to go CLOSE to my planned leaving time.  Of course I did notice halfway through the hair drying that there was definitely still some conditioner in my hair (note to self: quick showers are only effective when hair is properly rinsed), but what can you do.  THEN, as I'm getting ready to go, I poured my coffee and it tasted TERRIBLE.  Not sure what's wrong with my coffeemaker, but this just will not do.  After all this, I finally made it to school with 20 minutes to spare before my morning conference.  Phew.

Anyways, after all that the morning went well with the kiddos.  We reviewed expectations for the student-led conferences and rearranged the desks into "conference corners."  Yes, after all my moaning and groaning, I decided I might as well embrace the student-led conference format my school uses.  This meant that I had two families at a time in the room for most conferences, and floated between them.  The kids walked their families through their MAP test scores, trimester goals, and work portfolios.  I added my 2 cents and answered questions, but they were mostly running the show.  It wasn't as weird as I expected to have two conferences going on at once, but I don't know how any teacher would do more than 2!  Some had 4 conferences at once!  That just seems excessive...

Anyways.  Conferences went amazingly well (minus the phone call I received at 8am from a parent whose son brought home the reminder notice the previous evening and had somehow not brought home any of the previous reminders I'd sent so she hadn't known to take off work...my, we have SO very much to discuss at his conference...).  By the end of the (long) evening, I was left not so much with a feeling of exhaustion, but with a feeling of pride.  I've spent hours and hours lately agonizing about these stupid ISATs.  All these practice tests and writing prompts have left me feeling LESS prepared somehow, and mostly just feeling disappointed in myself and my students. 

But today, looking at those MAP scores and work samples, and reflecting about their growth so far this year, I realized, maybe for the first time, that they have grown.  tremendously.  It was amazing to see how excited the kids were to share their work with their parents, and really rewarding to be reminded how far they've come.  Yes, there were a few conferences where all the news wasn't so positive, but there were no real surprises for the parents.  As exhausting as conferences are, there is something really special about hours of telling parents all the wonderful things about their child--and really meaning it.  I teach for moments like this. 

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