Going into the experience, I thought that we would meet with the parents in our classrooms. With this thought it mind, I ran to Target the other night and bought enough wrapping paper to cover my bulletin boards three times over. Between 7:15 am and 8:45 am on Wednesday, my classroom was transformed from a cell in Attica to a hybrid mix of Martha Stewart (the major bulletin board is tastefully done) and Pope Benedict XVI (a lot of Catholic art up on the board).
Let's just pause for a moment to reflect on what the hybrid of Martha Stewart and the Holy Father would look like.
**Shudder** Prada shoes. **Shudder**
Well, I was wrong about meeting parents in the classroom. Instead, we met in the Commons - a large room adjoining the lunchroom. Tables were set up along the perimeter and parents could line up to meet with teachers.
The only analogue I have for this experience is that it was like the Antiques Road Show. You know, that PBS show where people dig things out of the attic or bring something they have treasured to an expert to have its worth appraised. Sometimes the trinket is really valuable, should be insured, and treasured into the future. Other times, the expert has to inform the owner that the "precious" bobble is actually junk and, while possessing inestimable sentimental value, would fetch nothing at auction.
Good Lord. I think, actually, the Antiques Road Show is modeled on Parent Teacher Conferences!
Thankfully, I did not have to tell any parents that their sons had no worth but, since they possessed sentimental value, they should be kept all the same. In other words, I didn't have to tell any parents that their future included a long-term resident of their basement. In fact, I found that I was able to be really optimistic with parents: even when students were struggling, we were able to isolate the trouble areas and think of ways/strategies to redress any trouble areas. The great benefit of having this meeting so early in the semester is that there hasn't been enough time, at least in my classes, to dig oneself a hole so deep that he cannot climb out of it.
Now, as hard as it would be to reconcile themselves to the reality, many of my students truly are the sons of their parents. By this I mean that in meeting the parents, I gained a tremendous amount of insight into the reason why the sons are the way they are. The adage that "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree" was confirmed over and over again this week.
After 2.5 hours of non-stop talking on Thursday and another 2 hours yesterday, I drove to Cleveland to see my family and some friends. I'm usually happy to get six hours of sleep each night, but last night I managed to slumber for ten hours...further confirmation that 4.5 hours of talking, on top of a week of teaching, is horribly draining.
Next week is "Spirit Week" in preparation for Homecoming, yet another dance I will be chaperoning. I'm already writing my "Deodorant: Never too much, too often" talk to present to the guys before they come to the dance. In light of the last dance, I reckon it'd be a good idea to evangelize the wonders of good hygiene in the hope (vain though it may be) that we avoid a repeat of the olfactory offenses of the last dance.