PTC – A Halloween Story?

October 29, 2009 at 7:10 am 2 comments

Yesterday and today are Parent-Teacher Conferences. Yesterday we taught for a full day and then had conferences until 8 PM in the cafeteria. Things went well; I had about 25 families come in, almost all with their student. That’s better than I had some days in my more affluent schools, and definitely better in terms of having the kids present. I think that’s incredibly valuable – I don’t like the feeling of talking behind the kids’ backs, and I’m not sure how much good it does in most cases. With middle school students it wasn’t as big a deal to me, because they’re children – but high schoolers are old enough to be taking responsibility for their own success.

In order to explain why this subject even deserves a blog post, I need to rewind to last Friday. We had an in-service day, and several of us went to lunch together. While eating, we talked about conferences.

Our school has three “sessions” of PTCs at a go. There’s the evening session on Wednesday that lasts three hours. Then there’s a full-day session, from 8:30-4, on Thursday. Finally, there’s a third evening session from 5-8 on Thursday. The evening sessions take place in the cafeteria, where we’re lined up at tables in alphabetical order and families mill around like they’re registering for college classes on a pre-internet campus. The day session takes place in our individual classrooms.

The idea of having conferences in our classrooms is kind of nice. We don’t have an Open House/Back-to-School Night, so this is a parent’s first opportunity to see my classroom. (And I have a nice one, so I like to show it off.) Even better, in between conferences I can get work done. I’ve got a lovely list of to-do items today, including reorganizing my desk and putting together my file cabinet. I couldn’t do that if I was stuck in the cafeteria.

At lunch last Friday, though, it came out that there’s a flip side to the situation. My department head warned me that I might – or would – encounter the following situations while alone in my room:

  • drunken parents
  • irrationally angry parents
  • dangerously violent parents
  • parents deliberately coming during the day so that they’ll find it easier to try to bully the isolated teacher
  • parents in their pajamas
  • parents in… uhm… school-inappropriate attire
  • parents looking for other teachers and deciding that I look like a likely receptacle for their off-base personal attacks of said teachers
  • parents strung out on meth (see bullets 2 & 3)

I was advised to leave my door open, to open up the doors of the teacher work area so that there’s a straight path between my room and those on the other side of the wing, to have a plan for enlisting the help of either of the able-bodied men whose classrooms adjoin mine, and to have the admin/security’s number memorized. In what may have been a coincidence, we got a district-wide email the day before PTC reminding us that you have to punch 9 before dialing 911 on our classroom phones.

I’m… flabbergasted. And curious. I wonder if it will really happen? A couple of the teachers I ate with claimed to have had any number of the above walk into their classrooms over the years, but I don’t know how exaggerated it all is. I mean, yes – the Rural School District is “tougher” than most of the Urban SD, and much more so than most of the Suburban SD.

I’ve set up my conference area by the door. Visitors will sit in student desks, which means that they have to slide out of their seats sideways. I’ve got a moveable chair on the other side of the student desks, and I wore sensible shoes. I don’t think anything is going to happen today – all of my parents yesterday were super nice, even those whose kids were failing. But if something does, I don’t want to have to use my ninja skills on them.



Awful More about Hyde

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. teachin'  |  October 29, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    I once had a drunken parent, but my worst was a couple of weeks ago when I had a parent start berating a child about said child’s choices, including talking about the parent’s past mistakes which involved significant jail time and knife and bullet scars.

    Did I mention that the child involved was someone else’s kid?

    Yeah, THAT was a fun night. 🙂

    I hope yours go better than that!

  • 2. Stixen  |  November 1, 2009 at 11:11 pm

    I feel obligated to remind you that you have a friend who “works” for an arms dealer.

    Lemme know if you decide you want/need anything in the way of protective or offensive gear.


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The Bee’s Knees

This is the teaching journal of a student first-year second-year THIRD-YEAR (!!!) English teacher. I am writing this blog as a reflection for myself, a way to keep friends and family updated, and a sharing-ground between other educators online. I love comments!

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