Notice I did not call this column PTA night. Though most people call it that, it makes no sense as it means parent teacher association night. We all really just want the conferences.

So the big nights are coming soon. Are you all feeling as nervous as I am? When I was little, I looked forward to the big night as my teachers always had glowing reviews of me. Somehow that hasn’t held true for my own children post-preschool. I don’t know why things change so dramatically when you send your children to the same school for preschool and elementary. In preschool they are adorable and smart and wonderful. In first grade they are behind on this and that and need resource room.

Most teachers make it a point of contacting the parents before this one night. If you are waiting for months to know that your child is behind, you are waiting too long. So then the big night really becomes a repetition of your previous conversations. One would hope it’s a positive status report marking progress but how much progress can children make in such a short time?

I know of a new school where the children do a significant amount of work on computers and parents can view online their progress and abilities each day. That’s something! More in keeping with our information everywhere at all times mentality. You still need to meet the teacher to learn about social issues, I suppose.

Another facet of these conferences that never seems to work out right is the timing. Many schools allow 5-10 minutes each and the teacher is constantly behind. Can we all admit these conferences take longer? Though then these poor teachers who have to leave their families behind to work unpaid overtime would have to stay even later or perhaps go through this ordeal two nights instead of one.

So we come, sometimes just mothers, sometimes mothers and fathers. We are the students for the night, rushing to be on time, sheepishly making small talk, sitting in the small chairs, nervous about the reports. Personally, I also get nervous about timing. I don’t want to be abrupt and cut through the niceties, but I don’t want to spend too much time on them either, if it would mean losing out on discussing the real issues. I try to walk the fine line. So you hear the report and then go home and try to repeat it verbatim to your spouse if they didn’t come. The children are probably asleep by then so you can’t really discuss it with them. And you try to make things better going forward, if possible. May we all hear good news!


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