Category Archives: Conferences

Away at a Conference

I’m heading out of town for a conference, and I’m again amazed at how much time it takes to plan for absences. I will miss the last two days of school this week, and I finished my sub plans today and set up everything for my sub. This took over two hours!

Unless I provide a video and just let my kids be lazy for the two days, I have to put thought into the lessons that can be completed independently or lessons that my sub can implement (and that do not require any content expertise). This is a time consuming process. I rarely show films in their entirety, generally relying only on short clips that illustrate an idea or concept so this was a non-starter for me.

This is one of those duties which non-teachers do not understand. Planning for time away is not just handing a video to a glorified babysitter; it’s typing out instructions that can be enacted by an amateur where the lessons require little to no adaptation on the spot. The lesson has to be simple enough for the sub but complex enough to maintain student engagement.

Whew! Thank goodness that’s finished.

While I’m gone, I would like to recommend three blogs I enjoy reading. They are:

These are three (of a number of blogs I enjoy) which include regular, thoughtful posts on education issues. Enjoy!

Awestruck and Saddened

Parent-teacher conferences were this week, and I’m exhausted. Whew!

I love meeting the parents and figuring out ways to assist the students, but I also just get worn down. It’s an intense process of a series 3-4 hour meetings after teaching each day.

However, what strikes me the most every year is how much my students have gone through in their young lives: beatings, emotional abuse, rapes, gangs, disorders, living with grandparents, death, loss, and more.

I heard a fellow colleague wondering why a certain student “even comes to school,” and after talking to his grandmother I think his showing up is a minor victory. His father is finally out of the picture (grandma won in court), his sister is back in rehab, his bruises are healing, and he’s finally eating three meals a day. School is a safe haven–not a place where he may be successful if measured by grades–and he attends for a semblance of normalcy, safety, and positive social interaction.

Not every student is going to be a Horatio Alger story, and I wonder how these students will function in the future. Where will they find success?

Back from NEA

When people say that attending the NEA-RA can be invigorating, believe them! Seeing over 17,000 people advocate for education in one place sure sent a charge through me, and I’d love to attend again.

Interesting stats I got from the Washington State caucus and national assembly:

  • Washington ranks 5th in SAT scores,
  • Washington has the nation’s 5th largest class sizes,
  • Washington is 45th in per pupil spending (relative, I know),
  • Dino Rossi’s and Gary Locke’s suspensions to teacher raises cost educators over $600 million dollars (when figured over a lifetime), and
  • 3.2 million teachers belong to the NEA.

Beyond all that Washington had the 5th most delegates at the NEA-RA convention. Observing the process, the parliamentary procedures in action, was quite amazing. Although different opinions were expressed and decisions were not ever unanimous, respect exuded from everywhere. I wish my students could have seen it.

I’m a bit tired right now since we just got home a bit ago, but here is the line of the convention provided by Governor Easley of North Carolina when discussing the nation’s unwise shift to so much standardized testing:

Weighing a cow more often does not make the cow heavier!

Student-Led Conferences

Student-Led conferences seem to be the new buzz phrase in my school. We have a small group creating a proposal (though it sounds less like a proposal and more like a done deal), and their conclusion is to redesign conferences into a model where students present to their parents and a teacher. On paper it looks great, but the reality seems something altogether different. Continue reading

It’s Over

Conference week is over!

I love conference week, but I’m even more happy to see it end. This week could be the most fatiguing of the entire year.

Normally, we teach half-days and then conduct conferences with parents for two nights and two afternoons. However, this year the Boss Lady (after canceling Open House if you’d forgotten) changed the schedule to three nights. While this may not sound earth-shattering, three split shifts with coaching, activity advising, and other meetings is a torturous stretch.

I must admit I was on cruise-control for the last day.

Still, I love talking to the parents. They are so appreciative of the opportunity to meet their students’ teachers and to hear first-hand what is happening (or not happening) in the classroom.

The best conferences are when the students arrive with the parents. With these, I just start asking the student questions until he/she has essentially led the session. It’s great!

Tomorrow is the last half-day, so a couple of us are going to play basketball right after the final period. Following that I have a three hour drive to our football game in a far corner of the state. Late night, but we’ll win the league title tomorrow. Go team!