Heaven Holds a Place For Those Who Grade (hey, hey, hey)

Many teachers dread Parent/Teacher conferences. Long lines of disgruntled parents and guardians – whether it is your class or not, they are usually crabby about SOMETHING they see on the report card, and they are ready to let YOU hear about it. Long days – school starts at 7:30 a.m. and conferences go until 7:00 p.m. Long conversations about why Jonny is not so much passing your class – or his other classes for that matter – along with a life story of why he is tired during school or how the parent wasn’t good at English either. Crabbiness and Excuses – those are usually what teachers think of first when they are getting ready for Parent/teacher conferences. On top of that, the parents we SHOULD be talking to rarely show up to conferences – or answer their phones when we call, for that matter.

Yes, these are the things that go through teachers’ minds when they are getting ready for conferences. And yes, I admit, I do the same thing every year. I wake up, remember that it’s a P/T conference day, and I groan.

But this blog isn’t about what I hate about conferences; because really, the above things rarely happen to me, and somehow I always forget this until it’s over for another year.

Yes, I have long lines. Friday afternoon I had only 12 visitors; Monday night I had 34 people come through my line – which was backed up around the media center; and tonight I talked to 27 parents. And yes, most had crabby looks on their faces while waiting in the line – but the grumpiness somehow melted when they sat down at my table.

Tonight I was reminded over and over again why I love my job and I couldn’t possibly do any other career. Time and again parents sat down and preluded the conference with, “I just have to tell you how much ____________ really enjoys your class!” And these were NOT always the “A” students whose parents were proclaiming this. In fact, I had very few A’s this quarter. Not because the students weren’t capable – mostly because they weren’t ready for the amount of work is involved in my English class.

One of my favorite P/T moments this year happened Monday night. One of my students struggles with writing. He is learning disabled in writing, but does not quite qualify for special ed. His mom is very involved and came to introduce herself the second day of school. She was very upfront about how she has not been too impressed with many English teachers and her son needed extra help. I assured her he would be fine in my class, but I sensed she had heard that before. She just said, “well, we’ll see”. And that was the end of it. Monday night she came right up to my table and I told her, “__________is doing so great in class! His writing isn’t perfect, but neither is the writing of MOST of my students.” In fact, I went on to tell her that if she had never told me he had issues with writing, I would have never pegged him for needing extra help. Then she said to me, “well, that is because of you. He feels comfortable in your class and he thinks you are hilarious and great.”

My smile hasn’t gone away yet. Tonight I had more parents – parents of kids that don’t say two words to me in class – tell me how much their kid(s) love me and my class – how English was always their worst subject, but it’s their favorite class this year. Like I said, this doesn’t mean it’s their BEST class this year, but they love my class. I didn’t have even one parent this year have a bone to pick with me. Not one. And I usually don’t. I even had one dad say he was jealous because he never had pretty, young teachers when he was in high school. I think his son will get extra credit for that kind of flattery – ha ha ha!

This may sound like I am tooting my own horn – and you know what? I guess I am. After all the struggles and distractions from other things as this year started, I am being rewarded for keeping my smile and my passion for teaching. This is why I teach – not to hear that I am a favorite teacher – but to hear that students feel comfortable and safe in my class. It might not be their best subject – but they like to be there. This is a huge accomplishment, and I’m not going to lie – I am pretty darn proud of myself! I will never understand people who think teaching is easy – but I do know that because of its challenges, it has great rewards. To me, being a teacher is a great blessing!

About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.