Wednesday, April 13, 2005

PARENT/TEACHER CONFERNCE... or PTAphobia?

I had a conference with Zack's teachers and counselor this morning.  I always go to these things with a bit of dread.  I recall so vividly one particular conference with a teacher whom I will call 'Miss Whaa-Whaa', for she reminded me so much of the teacher on Charlie Brown, the one who speaks but all you hear is 'whaaa whaaaa whaaa'.  This teacher, and I know she meant well, would call me almost once a week to report on Zack.  When we finally sat down for the annual Parent/Teacher conference I swear she was out to get me.  She sat on a 'big people chair' on one side of the table, but I had to sit on a 'student seat', which was so low that I was practically sitting on the floor with my knees almost up to my chin.  I sat there at an obvious disadvantage.  And so began our conference.  She didn't even speak at first, she just lifted her hand about 2 feet above the table and dropped what she was holding.  Half a dozen little foil sculptures fell to the tabletop.  Unsure what was happening, I picked one up.  It was a perfectly constructed miniature model of an X-wing fighter from the movie Star Wars. 

'Very nice!' I said with sincere admiration.  That was the wrong thing to say.

'These were confiscated from your son who felt it was more important to make foil airplanes in class than to do his assignment.'  Miss Whaa-Whaa said with disapproval. 

Unsure what she wanted me to say since I had already blown it with my first comment, I assured her that I would no longer wrap his sandwiches in foil, thus eliminating the distraction.  Obviously that was once again the wrong thing to say.  When I left the classroom 10 minutes later I heard her writing on the chalkboard.  I didn't look back for fear of seeing her adding my name to the detention list. 

There is just something about Parent/Teacher conferences that fly me back to my school days and I sit infront of the teachers feeling small and insignificant, waiting for them to list all that I am failing at as far as parenting goes.  I believe they practice intimidation techniques.  I am usually a very confident person, but put me infront of a teacher and I'm as insecure as a school girl.  Even as an adult I run on tiptoes when I pass the principal's office.  Its funny but I've spent more time in the office as a parent than I ever did as a student!

Today was different.  Today I got to sit on a 'big person chair'.  Today I had my husband with me!  And the teachers... there were 6 in all, plus the counselor, were speaking to me as an adult.  They didn't berate my son, or me.  They didn't question my parenting skills.  They didn't make dramatic displays or ask trick questions.  They sincerely wanted to help my son.  I don't know if Zack saw that, but I did and it made a big difference on my attitude through out the meeting.  I did not feel insignificant, I was not intimidated.  I felt I was with friends who shared a common goal, to help my son achieve.

Hopefully that will be the last conference for the year.  But there will be more, I'll still have 3 children in school next year.  Maybe I'll even get over my phobia of these conferences by then.  Is there a name for such a phobia or am I the only parent who feels this way?  Maybe... and in that case I will name my phobia.... I will call the fear of Parent/Teacher conferences 'PTAphobia'

10 comments:

amy122389 said...

I NEVER sat in those little chairs unless the teacher was sitting in one, too....  (mainly because I'd never get back up again, but still...)
I really believe they do it on purpose to put you at a disadvantage!!

~Amy

gabreaelinfo said...

He's a very handsome boy :). It's great you participate with his teachers. When I use to volunteer at my sons school that was everyones #1 complaint, not enough parents participating :(. I am polling today on my journal. Please take a peak and let me know what you think. Graphics or not?
Gabreael
http://journals.aol.com/gabreaelinfo/GabreaelsBodyMindSpiritJournal/

purplectigger said...

I'm glad they didn't make you feel small. They are just teachers and you are the parent. The teachers I encountered with my kids were really nice and never talked down to me. I hope all your future meetings are nice to you.
Hugs, R.C.

mumma4evr said...

I refuse to sit in the chairs and tell the teacher I would rather stand.  I look even bigger when I am standing over them!  LOL  We have 2 meetings coming up soon and I have no idea what to do!
Becky

sdoscher458 said...

Oh yeah...I can see "the star wars devil" in his eyes!  Seriously, meeting with the teachers has not changed...I wouldn't sit on those small chairs either! I always approached the desk when my turn came...never put yourself in an awkward position like that.....Glad you had a good meeting....Sandi

artloner said...

If they ever try that "little chair" trick again, refuse to sit. That'll make You the Tall One With The Advantage.  (he's precious) When I think of all the awful things kids get into...little Star Wars foil thingys are no big deal.

Grrrr...

xoxoxo
Andi

jcole16757 said...

Dorn, I just keep picturing you sitting in that little chair.  Sorry, it tickled me silly! Glad to hear this conference went well and hope all those in the future go well too. :)

cpuertas said...

HI as usual you made me laugh . let me tell you about both sides of the coin. As a teacher & a parent of 2 troublemakers ( I get called alot) I have 2 phobias not 1 count them 2. I have the PTAPHOBIA but I also have THE PARENT-PHOBIA! Thats when you tell a parent everything therir sweet darlings were doing and they tell you off Ghetto style . Then again I teach in NYC where life is not as we know it..take it from me not all teachers are all bad some of us genuinely care about our students & their parents . My parents have an open door policy they can call me anytime & THEY DO -GOOD LORD WHAT WAS I THINKING?( sorry its so long)

http://journals.aol.com/cpuertas/randommusings

heathyrxmarie said...

Aww, Dorn! My mom hated conferences too because of me.  Every teacher told her if I concentrated on my homework and tests as hard as I did my hair, I'd be a straight A student.  I think as a parent, I'm going to skip them.  Just one last bit of rebellion towards those assholes of a teacher! LOL!

;)

Hugs,
xox
Heather

hestiahomeschool said...

You have once again made me happy I homeschool!  THose conferences would make me so mad!!!