We had our last ever parent-teacher conference today.
They don’t do those sorts of things in college. Once you get to college you’re expected to handle that sort of thing on your own. There are even laws about that. As a professor, I am legally barred from discussing anything about my students with their parents unless those students have signed paperwork expressly allowing me to do so. This is something that not every parent gets, to be honest.
But before that, there are conferences.
We’ve gone to them all. Of course we have.
At Not Bad President Elementary there was only one teacher you had to locate and you selected a time and showed up to the room for a nice conversation. At Mighty Clever Guy Middle School they put all of the teachers in the cafeteria at tables and gave you a time slot to visit the one teacher who probably knew the least about your child – their homeroom teacher – but you could sort of mill about and catch up with all of the others, which was always worthwhile.
At Local Businessman High School they also put all of the teachers in the cafeteria (and thereabouts – there are a lot of teachers), but they don’t give you a time slot. You just show up and hang around until you collect the whole set. We’d walk around with a list, checking them off one by one until we’d covered everyone.
Not everyone goes to these things, which always mystified me a bit. I know that not everyone can get to them, what with work or other commitments, but some of the people who can go choose not to. How can you not want to check in and make sure things are going well? How can you at least not want to check in to see if the stories your child tells you are correct? Oliver used to complain about how one of his teachers kept putting him to sleep and we didn’t believe him until we met the man – a guy who clearly cared about his students and might well have been a good teacher but whose manner was so soporific that we nearly didn’t make it out of the conference awake. Oliver transferred to a different and more lively teacher after that and did well.
These days they’re all online and you have to schedule them through one of those sign-up services, and you log in and chat for a bit before you do the whole “wave at the screen” thing that nobody ever did before the pandemic forced us all to become Zoombies and then you log into the next one.
Lauren is graduating in June, and that will mark the end of our time in Our Little Town’s school district. So of course we signed up for conferences. We saw them all, there on the little screen.
They all had lovely things to say about Lauren, of course. She’s smart, mature, focused and compassionate, and she’s grown up around teachers so she knows how to handle herself in a classroom.
I’m proud of her.
And now we’re done. There will be no more parent-teacher conferences for us.
The milestones creep up on you as you get older. They come thick and fast when you’re young and then there’s a long period where they don’t happen much at all, and then they do again.
If you’re lucky, you notice them while they’re happening.