Having accepted in advance that I wasn’t going to have much luck Impressing Teachers, I did some serious practical planning. Which is usually my forte. We would have around an hour and a half to see twelve teachers – one of whom does not even TEACH the Bigster (long story).
No need for calculations – we get five minutes with each teacher. The hour and a half might be an understatement.
FIVE. This is how many minutes we have to talk about our kid. Twelve times.
There are lots of guidelines for parent-teacher interviews on the Internet. Like this one which suggests that we ask “Are there things he does that surprise you?”. I think I’ll add that to my repertoire. It may be surprising for the teachers, given that my child is not a he at all.
Other sites suggest that you pre-prepare notes on what you want to ask and take a notebook to record answers. Is it just me or is that a little confrontational? Perhaps I should borrow a digital voice recorder from work and fiddle with it all through the interviews? “This parent-teacher meeting may be recorded for quality assurance purposes. Anything you say can and will be used against you.” At least it would let me distract the teachers so Fraser can do something useful and perve at their mark books.
DEAR ACTUAL TEACHERS AT BIGSTER’S AND OTTO’S SCHOOLS: WE REALLY DON’T FEEL THIS CONFRONTATIONAL. IF WE DID YOU WOULD KNOW ABOUT IT BY NOW. ALSO WE THINK YOU ARE PRETTY FAB. ALSO: MANY OF YOU CAN SEE THROUGH OUR DAUGHTER AND NOTICE SHE ISN’T ACTUALLY DOING MUCH YET. WHICH WE THINK IS SUPER AWESOME. LOVE, MELISSA AND FRASER xxxxx
Anyway. Here’s what we are taking in the Bag Of Tricks:
School work. We made the Bigster bring ALL HER WORKBOOKS to last year’s parent teacher night. And we carried her interim reports too, so we could refer to them if we needed. Actually this was not a stupid idea. Doing it again. She hates it. A win for us.
Timetable. We have the most amazing interview timetable. It’s created using this automatic online tool where you say which teachers you want to meet (um all of them?) and then what time you want to arrive and then get this incredibly complicated timetable that has you trotting from level 1 to level 3 with 5 minutes between interviews. With a fractured rib (have I mentioned that lately?). So you arrive panting and red-faced and terrified that OMG I HAVE MISSED MY SPOT and then you try to suss out whether the other people in the room are waiting for YOUR teacher and who got there first and whose turn is it really and you really don’t want to look like you’re listening in on other interviews but OMG that poor teacher and those poor parents and that poor kid and yeeeesh. And then you work on the relaxed-but-responsible face and worry that you’ve ended up at smug and then just look stressed and frazzled which is OK because most of the other parents are wearing that face too (the others stopped at smug).
Anyway. Timetable. I have it on my iPhone. That way I can pretend that it is something we will follow. I also have a printout. Or I will if the work printer is working tomorrow.
Map. This is useful. If you are completely defective in the navigation department that is. There are three levels in the school building. Rooms that start with “1” are on the ground floor. Rooms that start with “2” are on the middle floor. And rooms that start with “3” – you got it – are on the top floor. And there are little flags that stick out with room numbers on them. The timetable allegedly gives room numbers but it is not always exactly perfect. So there are lists stuck to the walls which show teacher names and their rooms. WHY IS THIS SYSTEM SO HARD FOR PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND?
Of course, having written that, I will surely get hopelessly lost or confused. Except that I have my kid with me and she goes to that school so probably knows where the rooms are.
Little sister. It’s all about the student. So you should only have them with them. Not have a little sister trotting along behind. Except when you are already paying a babysitter one night that week and your family have other commitments and she’s really too young and sporadically evil to be left at home alone. Amazing how one child who hates to speak to adults suddenly LOVES it when they are her sister’s teachers. Because heaven forbid that they not NOTICE HER!!! Oops. Better pack a bag with activities for her. Also earbuds.
Food. Given the aforementioned Little Sister especially. We’ll be out through a meal time and my kids never seem to eat their lunches anyway. We might stop for dinner on the way home (I frame it as a reward for the Bigster but actually it’s about me being TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY KNACKERED) but in the meantime it’s good to have something nutritious and healthy that they can snack on between interviews. If you have time to prepare it – which I don’t. A bag of rice crackers and half a dozen cans of diet coke it is. And a fairy bread chaser if Otto behaves.
Meanwhile it’s back to the Internet for some last-minute tips.
Crikey.com has an excellent guide to interpreting what the teacher is saying. My personal favourite: “I would like to see Omaha do more reading at home : It’s about time you did a bit of parenting.” (ouch).
And I wonder whether I should pass on this site with recommendations for schools. They suggest that the school should “Consider offering soft music and sweets as well as tea and coffee.”. Personally I am quite keen on the idea of sugar and caffeine-fuelled meditation sessions. Also beer.
As long as we remember the jelly snakes, we’re good.