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Saturday, April 04, 2009

Hostage Crisis Ends Without Bloodshed, But Casualties Are Dignity, Sanity, And Intellectual Capacity


Seriously, I wasn't going to do this, but after seven hours of Parent Conferences (aka The Tuesday/Thursday Hostage Crisis), my intellectual state is at...oh, let's say, Tepid Oatmeal. I want you to imagine putting in a full day of Teen Wrangling at The Rock from 7:40 A.M. to 3:00 P.M. and then facing a gymnasium full of parents from 3:30 until 7:00 P.M. Yes, 120+ staff members, two per table, all herded into the gym, where cattle-call conferencing takes place. Twice.

Le sigh.

Anyway. I had planned to post something far more cerebral and witty and sophisticated, but frankly, it's just not there. So instead, I will regale you with this stunningly illustrative anecdote from my second evening at conferences. It will make everything in my professional life so abundantly and magnificently crystalline for you that you will never again wonder why I manage only to post about once a week.

My roommate Andrew and I shared a table. We try not to listen to each other's conferences, but of course, with such close proximity, it is difficult. The parents, however, don't usually seem to be too worried about their privacy. At one memorable moment, I had a parent at my table whose lovely daughter was expecting a B+ on her report card in my sophomore honors class. She had taken a dive from her usual "A" due to a particularly rough outing on her test over The Great Gatsby. Uncharacteristically, I decided to boost her the 5 points and give her the A-. Here is how the conference went, pretty much verbatim:

Me: Did you get a chance to pick up your daughter's report card?
Mom: Yes. No. I don't know.
Me: I see. Did you stop at the tables at the front?
Mom: Oh, yeah. Is it in here with all this stuff? I don't know anything.
Me: Yes. At any rate, she got an A- in English.
Mom: Oh, she'll be happy. She was upset 'cause she thought she got a B.
Me: Well, I looked at the body of her work this quarter, and she really is not a B student. She had one tough test, but the rest of her work is excellent. And she was only 5 points away, so--
Mom: Oh, I always knew she was smart. She was smart the minute she first came out.
Me: Oh?
Mom: Yep. They gave her right to me and she started nursing right away. It wasn't three minutes and she was nursing.
Me: (sideways glance at Andrew who is blushing furiously, head down, trying to read or write something)
Mom:...oh, she just (makes exaggerated "chomping" demonstration with mouth and head) got right on and nursed away! She knew right what to do! Now, my other ones, they had all sorts of trouble. They couldn't get on and I had all kinds of problems. But not her! (Smiles proudly; waits for my feedback)
Me: (at a loss) Well, there you go! Anyway, she has her "A", but this next quarter, she'll need to step it up and work hard to maintain it.
Mom: Oh, she will! She's a smart one! Well, thank you. (gets up and leaves)
Me: Andrew?
Andrew: (looks at me, face red, shakes head uncomprehendingly) I'm...what...?...that's it.
Me: This is one for the Dept.

16 comments:

  1. Funny as all get out. Poor Andrew. You've got to wonder why the woman came to the conference at all.
    Been there; no stories as good as that one, however.

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  2. I suppose, metaphorically, that we can consider what we do "nursing" the cherubs along, right? You've inspired me to post an insipid, ridiculous, typo-ridden e-mail I recently received from a perturbed parent. But that's for next week, I guess. Right now, I'm more focused on Sx3. Celebrating All Things Cherry Blossoms!

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  3. LMAO ... good Lord. If the mom shared that history with you, can you imagine how many other people she tells that if they compliment her daughter on her intelligence? Poor kid. It seems like something out of a bad movie. In fact, the scenario reminded me of that one movie with Susan Sarandon and her daughter (played by Natalie Portman). The mom was wild and the daughter was a good kid and smart, and always being embarrassed by her mom.

    That cattle call of parent-teacher conferencing I have NEVER heard of before. I can't believe the teachers don't revolt. I thought it was bad enough conducting conferences in the relative "safety" of my classroom. What is the purpose? Is the idea that parents can more easily go from teacher to teacher or perhaps that parents with more than one child can easily move on the other child's teachers?

    Shirley

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  4. Thankfully, I haven't had to deal with any parents yet. I'm told that day will come.

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  5. Mikey--It's inevitable.

    Shirley--We can't do conferencing in the classrooms; we share rooms throughout the day, so there's not one teacher per room. There's also the question of security--we don't want the entire building open to everyone wandering around. These are different times we live in. Our building takes up 3 floors and an entire city block; it's actually 2 buildings joined together (used to be 3 but we're in the middle of constructing a new school on-site AS WE CONDUCT NORMAL SCHOOL BUSINESS, which further complicates things). The other reasons you mentioned are also, I'm sure, seen as benefits.

    Melissa B.--Um, I suppose. I'd rather not think about that metaphorically, thanks.

    Mary G.--Mom seemed frazzled in general, that's for sure. Most of my conferences over the course of the two days were odd, come to think of it. Spring break cannot come soon enough for any of us.

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  6. I had the same thought as GFE. That her "Born Smart" story came out so fast and easy shows that she's repeated it often. I bet she's a blast at parties once she's had a few white wine spritzers in her.

    As for the parent conference cattle call, the first time my mom told me about it I was completely confused, but she loved it as a parent. That building is just too big to wander around lost in.

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  7. Holy shit, that's funny!!! Did you manage to keep a straight face? I bet you gave that woman "the look"!

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  8. Um, since when is following your natural instinct a sign of superior intelligence? I'm pretty sure my dog nursed right away, too, but her essay on Gatsby was clearly no better than C+ material.

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  9. OHDEARLORD! Now EATING is a sign of intelligence? If that is the case, I must be a genius!
    Oy!

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  10. There's a future resident of the Save-A-Buck Nursing Home. Paybacks are a mother...

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  11. dbso--bless her heart, huh? I just didn't know quite what to do about her.

    FugueStateKnits--Isn't it incredible what some parents claim about their kids? I've decided that the "there you go!" is my all-purpose comment.

    J@jj--LOL!! Poor Genevieve. If she knew you were dissing her Gatsby essay all over the Interwebs, she'd be mortified. She probably shouldn't have picked "color symbolism" as her subject...LOL.

    Nina--of course I kept a straight face. I was the picture of professionalism, and you know I was. And...what "look...?!" ;-)

    J.--I think this mom passed white wine spritzers back in jr. high. i'm sure she's tequila shots with a beer back now.

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  12. I knew my daughter was genius when she emerged head first! That girl of mine, she's special! Leads with the brain!

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  13. As we were taught to say when we couldn't say anything, well, nice....bless her sweet soul!

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  14. V--Remember when "coming out" meant... oh never mind. You're a Southern girl, and you know what I mean.

    Caroline--That kind of rule will make your life rough here at the Dept.! LOL LOL LOL.

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  15. Oh, Nance. How did you keep your composure? You are the essence of grace under fire. [It's awards time again.] And why DO we bother with all the tedious, expensive IQ testing when the REAL technique is so simple and cheap? I'd venture just a guess, though, that this child is either a changeling, a mutant, or the product of an alien abduction, since the others apparently didn't fall far from the tree.

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  16. Wow. Not sure where the nature vs. nurture goes with this one...

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