Parent Teacher Conference Overshares

Those of you who know me, know that I LOVE parent teacher conferences for a myriad of reasons. I love talking with parents about the progress their child is making, hearing kids talk about what makes them excited about school, and seeing kids interact with their families. Another thing I love is the occasional overshare of personal information.

Today I had several conversations with teachers about the unpredictability of conferences.  One teacher mentioned that she was woman_and_horse_by_pastelizator-d53ow68worried because she had just gotten off the phone with a father who needed to reschedule because he was too drunk to leave the house. I brought up the time a gentleman showed up looking for a certain student’s conference because he thought it would be the perfect time to serve one of the parents court papers. I also shared about the time I was cornered in my classroom by a father who prattled on for 45 minutes about how he was still suffering from the electroshock therapy he had received after returning from the Vietnam War. This story instantly reminded me of the mother who started her conference last year by saying, “I’m sure my son has probably told you, but I was recently struck by lightning.”

This afternoon, one of my conference story sessions ended abruptly when an associate, who is old enough to be the parent of every single staff member in our building, interjected.

Associate: “Well, you think that’s bad? I remember when I was working at the alternative high school and a teacher there had a terrible conference. Not only did the dad show up drunk, but he spent the whole time complaining about how his ex-wife had sex with a horse.”


You’re welcome.



Highs and Lows of Parent Teacher Conferences

Tonight we wrapped up our final night of fall parent teacher conferences and for the most part, the night went very well. My students and parents were delightful and I enjoyed getting to know a new batch of families.

The Highlight of the Night:

A former student stopped by for a visit. He informed me that he was getting an A in his Economics class and was pretty proud of the fact that he was the only sophomore in the class. He also told me he was on the fast track to graduate early. I asked him what his post graduation plans were and he told me he had already been on a couple of college visits and has been offered scholarships for baseball.  He also inquired about a naughty student I had last year. He then told me, in regards to that student, “We’re friends and we hang out sometimes, but I don’t hang out with him too often. His negativity can bring you down. He’s not the best influence.”

The Low of the Night:

While packing up my belongings in my room , I hear a mother out in the hallway shouting:

Mother: “STOP!”

The custodian, who is sweeping, nearly drops his broom and we stare at each other.

Mother: “STOP!”

This time I stick my head out of the room to see what’s going on.

The mother is standing in the library shouting “STOP” to her son who is already at the far end of the hallway. She begins to follow him and screams:

Mother: “STOP or I’ll call the police and put you in a shelter!”

By now everyone in the hallway is scurrying to get out of her way as she charges down the hallway screaming “STOP!” the whole way.

Apparently, he was following his mother’s directions. While they were in the library, the she had yelled at him and told him to take his ass out to the car.

11 year olds. ???

Catching Some Z’s & Lightning Bolts aka Parent Teacher Conferences

Spring break has come and gone, and now we are on to the final stretch. 9 1/2 weeks until the end of the school year. (Not that I’m counting.)

This year’s spring break started off just like every other with parent teacher conferences. Here are a couple of things that stood out.

Catching some Z’s

I have a student who takes a really looooooong time to complete assignments. He literally writes a word (usually his own name) then finds something else to occupy his mind for the next ten minutes. I walk over, tap his paper, ask him what he’s going to write next, he’ll say a sentence then he’ll write a word, sometimes a word and a half, then his mind is off again… Apparently, this is a common occurrence and was the focal point of our parent teacher conference.

The student showed up with his mom and 2 sisters and the conference began. We discussed his report card, then began to make our way through his individual evaluation sheets for each class. Everyone of his teacher’s wrote similar comments about the students inability to stay focused to complete simple tasks in class.

At this point, Mom shook her head and sister commented:

Sister: “You can see this makes our mother upset. She has heard this from his teachers for the past three years. She doesn’t know how to help him.”

Me (to student): “How does that make you feel? Your mom is upset by what she’s hearing.”

Student: “No. Actually, she’s just trying to stay awake.”

Mom: Looks at her son and frowns.

The student and I start to make plans for him to stay after school to get caught up, and I glance over at Mom to see if she’s following our conversation. She’s not. Her chin is resting on her chest and yep, she’s asleep. I pause for a minute as she sits up and looks around. I continue to talk to the student about tackling his missing assignments and when I look back at mom her eyes are drooping, drooping, and she’s gone. At this point I adjust my laptop on the table just enough to jostle her back to consciousness. The third time she falls asleep… I just leave her be. The student and I finish the conversation, I thank the sisters for coming, the three of us get up from the table and start to walk away… Eventually mom wakes up and thanks me for my time. It was all very awkward.

Do you want to know what else is awkward? When a conference that starts like this.

Me: “Hey guys. Thanks for coming. Mrs. O, it’s great to see you again.”

Student, Mom and I sit down.

Mom: “So, has my son told you that I was recently struck by lightning?”

Me: WTF? Seriously? Did I just hear what I thought I did? And if so, how in the world am I maintaining my composure? “No. Nope, he didn’t mention that.”

In all fairness, the story that followed was not funny, but who leads with that? The truth is, Mom had been using the shop vac to clean up the water her their flooded basement. She went outside to empty the canister, was standing in a puddle, and lighting struck the yard electrocuting her. Crazy.

Technology, Overpopulation, and Kevin Bacon

It’s been an interesting week, and it’s only Tuesday.

In preparation for our District Writing Assessment next month, my students have been learning how to write argumentative essays. We are starting simple.

Step 1: We read an article.

Step 2: On a note card, the kids each list 3 facts, from the article, that support their claim on the issue.

Step 3: One the back of the note card, the kids each list 3 facts, from the article,  that would support an opposing view point on the issue.

Step 4: The kids write a paragraph.

Sentence 1: Their claim

Sentences 2-3: Two separate pieces of evidence, from the story, that support their viewpoint.

Sentence 4: A counter-claim. (A sentence that states an opposing viewpoint- I have to rephrase it because they forget what     “counterclaim” means)

Sentence 5: One piece of evidence, from the story, that supports their counter-claim.

Count them. Five sentences. Three of which they are copying from a notecard…which they copied from an article. Simple enough.

For the most part, they did a good job and I got a lot of paragraphs like this:  

Prompt: Argue whether or not you think the amount of technology kids consume is a problem or just a part of life.

Paragraph: I think the amount of technology kids consume is out of control. According to the article, average teens spend 16 hours a day using some sort of technology. Teens also spend 95 minutes texting. Some people might disagree and think technology is just a part of life. They say it does help you keep in touch with your family and friends.

Not too shabby.

And then there’s this one. Same prompt.

Technology Makes People Fat?

In my opinion people are making a big deal about kids using to much technology. First off it’s not true, scientist can F off. They make it so why can’t we use it. I we play sports and go to school that leaves three – five hours in a day for technology. Not eight. Let people be obeese if they want, the population is too high anyways.

We will be discussing this paper at his parent teacher conference next week.

On a lighter note, I actually laughed out loud when this happened at the beginning of 2nd Block today.

I see a kid shuffling down the hall towards my room as the bell rings. I wait, holding the door for him because I can tell he’s feeling bad about being late.

Student: “I know. I know. I’m late. I’m sorry. I had to go get my binder from the science room. I left it in there when I was sent home yesterday.”

Me: “You were sent home yesterday? What happened?”

Student: “I told the principal that she looked like Kevin Bacon so she suspended me for the rest of the day.”  

Me: Not even trying to stifle my laughter because, well, she does kind of look like Kevin Bacon. “You what? You said she looked like Kevin Bacon and she suspended you? What happened before that? Surely something else happened.”

Student: “No. Nothing happened. I just said to her, ‘Has anyone ever told you that you look like Kevin Bacon?’ and she sent me home.”

It turns out that things got pretty ugly in gym class yesterday with the sub. When the principal stepped in and told the boys they were going to lose their open gym time during lunch, the boys did not respond very well. Threats were made by students, as well as several smart remarks (If you want to call the Kevin Bacon comment a smart remark) which resulted in parents being called. In the end, several boys were sent home.

When this particular student’s mother showed up to get her son, all she had to say was, “Well, you do look like Kevin Bacon.”

Beware of Sharks & Justin Bieber

Sometimes I like to do things to annoy my students. I know. Shocker.

Exhibit A: My latest addition to our bookshelf corner. I put it up after they all left today. That’s how I roll.

"Can you BELIEBE all these awesome books?" My students are so going to HATE this.

EXHIBIT B: A more subtle approach…

The other day while we were reading The Hunger Games, I glanced up to scan my kidos- to make sure they weren’t sleeping, texting, cutting their neighbor’s hair- and when I looked back at the book, I mispronounced “sword” as “sw-ord.”

Student 1: Miss Lewis, it’s pronounced sword  like soared.

Me: That’s what I said. Sw-ord.

Student 2: No. You don’t say the “w.” It’s silent. Sword.

Me: Sw-ord

Student 1: You said it wrong again.

Me: Whatever. I don’t hear any differences. (I keep reading.) “I felt the weight of the sw-ord…”

Student 2: No Miss Lewis. You’re messing it up. “Ssss”

Me: “Ssss”

Student 2: “ord”

Me: “ord”

Student: Sword

Me: Sw-ord

Student 1: Never mind. Just read.

I probably should have looked ahead because the word “sword” was in almost every other sentence for the rest of the page. By the time I got to the bottom of it, I had the giggles so bad, I couldn’t have read correctly even if I wanted to.


Last week, we were reading and I said:

Me: Katiss is afraid to go into the field of tall grass because there could be poisonous snakes, or quicksand in there.

Student 1: Or sharks.

Me: Sharks? In a field?

Student 1: Yah. In that lake.

Me: I think sharks like their water a little more salty.

Student 2: No, there are freshwater sharks now.

Student 1: See. That’s what I’m talking about.

Me: Ok. I see what you mean.

Student 1: I tell you Miss Lewis. Sharks are livin’ everywhere. They be growin’ in lakes, they be growin’ in your bathtub… they even be growin’ in your dishwater.

Me: Ok. Now you’re just being ridiculous.

And now- Here’s a special BONUS for those of you who read this post all the way through. In October we had Parent Teacher Conferences. The 8th grade teachers all hold our conference appointments in the library. To direct traffic, we place signs around the building. One of our students took some creative liberties with one of our signs. This was the end result.

Who knows how long our sign was like this...

>Parent Teacher Conferences… round 2

>One of my favorite students stopped by between, setting up for the school book fair, and conference time to hang out. After the events of our last Parent Teacher Conferences, and the enlightening conversation about the Chilean Miner rescue, I immediately got my computer out and started typing. I couldn’t keep up, but here’s a taste of what ensued:

Student: “People think I’m a nerd. I’m not really a nerd. I just know things… but I do want to get one of those ‘NERD’ shirts like yours though. Oh my mom had a friend who was in gifted-and-talented when she was in high school. I’ve known her forever. They paid her way to go to college. Hey Miss Lewis, do you have your iPad with you? I was going to ask you if I could play with it.”

Announcement: “Mr. Vogel, Please come to the office.”

Student: “Hee hee hee. Did they just say Mr. Vogel?”

Me: “Yes. Yes they did. Why do you know who Mr. Vogel is?”

Student: “No, it’s just funny because that’s a car.”

Me: “Nope. That’s Volvo.”

I suggest that the student get out a netbook and work on our class blog or play some games. It gets quiet… for a while…

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