Working Moms and Parent/Teacher Conferences
When my older kids were little, the schools started requiring parents to attend parent/teacher conferences to pick up the children’s report cards, and to discuss their progress.
Problems I have with this:
If my child is having problems, I had better have learned about it WAY before the quarter is over, and a conference is requested. That’s why I give the teachers my cell phone number and email address.
I’ve had that happen. I had a teacher call me once to tell me that my daughter hadn’t turned homework in for the past three weeks. Uhhhh, why didn’t you call me after a few days? I try hard to be aware of everything going on with my kids, but I’m not perfect.
I totally respect that the teachers have been looking after 20+ kids all day, and want to go home to spend time with their families, but I can’t attend when the last appointment you have for a conference is 4:30 pm, when I get off work at 5:00 pm.
Sometimes we aren’t that busy at work and I can leave a little early…. but I can’t make a habit out of it. I have the most awesome boss, and my company is really great…but most likely that is because I work really hard and don’t take advantage of them.
Tired and Frazzled
The few times I have been able to get the teachers to schedule me at 5:30 pm, I’m frazzled by the time I get there. I just left work, rushed to pick up the boys from Boys and Girls Club, and sped to the school (as much as I could without getting a ticket, and dealing with 5 o’clock traffic). My mind is not on what the teacher is saying, and I can’t think of any questions to ask.
On top of that, I have two tired and hungry boys getting into everything in the classroom, and fighting over who is going to sit in which chair. I’m exhausted and stressed…and you brought me to the school to tell me my child is doing great, is on schedule to be promoted to the next grade level, and she has no problems with him. Really? You couldn’t just email me that?
Ways to Avoid the Stress
Check to see if the teacher would be willing to fit you into a later appointment…even if it’s not listed on the schedule. All of the teachers I have met have been awesome and sometimes have been able to adjust appointments for parents who work. You just have to try a little harder to focus on what the teacher is saying.
Ask your child’s teacher if they would be willing to do a phone conference. So far, I’ve been very lucky. My boys’ teachers have been amazing, and we are able to get a lot discussed over the phone. It’s not as stressful and I don’t have to worry about the boys destroying the computers because they are fighting over one of them.
If all else fails, ask your child’s teacher if you can do it through email. I personally haven’t tried this avenue because the teachers have always been able to participate in phone conferences.
My suggestions would be to give some real thought to concerns you have. Don’t just type a quick message out saying “So, how’s my kid doing?”
Be Practical and Polite
Remember, most of the teachers are working moms and dads too. They know what it’s like to have busy schedules. Most of them are willing to coordinate schedules as much as possible…but be practical. No one will agree to a 9:00 pm phone conference. They have families and lives too.
Be kind and polite to your child’s teacher. They have to accommodate 20+ parents …don’t get angry or combative. They are busy and exhausted too …you’re not alone.
Don’t expect teachers to work with you, if you won’t work with them, and you don’t attend any school events. As in any situation in life, people will be much more willing to work with you if they can see you are trying your best.
Attend School Events
Attending school events are really fun. I was a bad mom for a lot of years because I was so exhausted after I got off work. My kids really missed out on a lot because of it. This school year I vowed to attend as many as I could (minus the Family Science night last week because it was scheduled on the same night as my son’s Variety Show).
You really do get a second wind, and the kids are so excited to see their friends and teachers in a social setting, versus only in the classroom. I feel absolutely awful that I made them miss out on that so much. They’ll remember whether you were there or not, I promise.