On my agenda this week are parent-teacher interviews with those who teach my two high school-aged kids.

Send wine.

A plus logoIn the early years, I would look forward to these joyous occasions as they reinforced my confidence in parenting. That was back when comments like “he always demonstrates consideration for his peers by helping during work, play and clean-up time” or “correctly recognizes most of the letters of the alphabet at random” were noteworthy accomplishments. I really pine for the days when U meant Usually. Nevertheless, the importance of communication between parents and teachers should not be underestimated.

I’ve had school-age kids now for approximately 14 years now (if you include pre-school) (please do) so I’ve endured enjoyed my share of parent-teacher interviews with the educators of my three kids’. The typical interview (which is a funny term, really; I come away feeling less like I got a job and more like I got served) is only 15 or so minutes, but I find teachers are not always so quick to cut to the chase about my kids’ strengths and weaknesses and tend to approach the truth from all angles. I usually look at Life, and my kids in particular, through rose-coloured glasses so it took me a few years to realize that “boisterous” was not a critical learning proficiency and “distracting” was not a compliment on their appearance. There are subliminal messages buried in those comments when read backwards. I’m just kidding about that – my kids have never been taught by Satan. Well, not since  that brief but disastrous homeschooling experiment anyway.  I am now doublespeak-literate and consider myself to be edu-lingual. I can now set aside the Dictum for Dummies book for I am now well aware that when a teacher informs me,

“He has such an extensive vocabulary” it really means he needs to stop swearing within earshot of the teacher.

“He has a strong future in medicine!” it probably means his penmanship sucks or his body is about to be donated to science (dead or alive).

“She is a gifted and prolific debater” means she needs to shut up once in a while.

“Attention to appearance and personal hygiene is of vital importance” means he should to take a shower after PhysEd … or  … hall passes are reserved for emergencies of which hair-brushing is not considered to be one.

“He is exceptionally creative!” means he came up with yet another stunning excuse as to why his homework wasn’t done.

As you can see, I’ve gleaned quite a bit from the report cards I’ve read and interviews I’ve attended.  Considering I have about 110 report cards and some 38 interviews or so on which to reflect upon, perhaps there is a market for certified comment decipherers.

Another interesting report card observation:  did you ever notice that the space on report cards for parent/guardian commends on student achievements, goals, and home support shrinks from a full page in grade school to about an eighth of a page in high school? Does this have anything to do with the fact that a smiley face emoticon takes up much less space than a diatribe? Or that a big thumb’s up at the conclusion of a parent-teacher interview really just about says it all? Always keeping us on our toes, those teachers 🙂 !!

Dare to share?  What’s the best teacher comment your child received?

report card


10 Responses to Dictum for Dummies …

  • I can relate to your “fun” with parent-teacher interviews. The best comment I ever had and remember it to this day was an interview I had with my oldest child’s first grade teacher. He attended a catholic school and his teacher told me that “he doesn’t see Jesus”. Being too young and inexperienced with these wonderful interviews at the time, I just sat there and took it. At this point in my life, I think I could come up with a number of different responses to that one, including asking her does she see Jesus and have you had your psychotic medication updated lately? What she, I believe but am still not sure, was trying to say was that he was not considerate of others. I think???

    • My fear of authority figures renders me speechless on occasion (or too emotional). I’m learning though and soon I too shall see Jesus!

  • My son had a teacher that had him write 500 times “I will not be rude to teacher”. I let him write the slogan 100 times and then felt sorry for his little 8 year old butt strugglig to keep going at 10 o’clock at night and told him that’s enough. I called his teacher to discuss, and expected her to be less than cordial. I was wrong. I explained to her that John was simply too sleepy to keep writing and she said that was fine. She also told me that he was a smart boy and that she was going to make him her classroom aide. It ended up that she was his favorite teacher ever. Go figure!

  • It’s been a long time since I took part in a parent-teacher conference, so I can’t remember. But, come to think of it, my son’s day care teacher, when he was four, said he had empathy. That was probably the nicest thing any teacher said about him, for years to come. So I took the compliment and ran. 😉

    You always make me laugh!

    • Isn’t that wonderful? A gift for sure! I remember my son’s JK teacher telling me my son had a ‘profound sense of fairness’. Probably because he was about to become a big brother … again 🙂

  • Brilliant post! We parents have all been there many times over. I still remember the parent/teacher conference (we’re more civilized here in the States) in 1st grade when the teacher asked my daughter “What are you thinking about when you’re staring out the window so long?” It went on from there. My daughter loved school – the social part, not the academic. She is now THE BEST teacher ever with former students now going into college still staying in touch. She cuts to the chase with the parents and her students. She’s been on both sides.

  • I’m a gran now and don’t have to worry about parent-teacher interviews. Buit I can empathise. 🙂

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About Astra
Ottawa mom of 3 poking fun at myself, motherhood, and minor hockey! I am steering through life dodging stinky hockey gear and empty wine bottles.
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