Forty Phone Calls
Parent-Teacher conferences joined the list of education practices remade by the pandemic this week.
Ours went surprisingly well. Parents signed up in advance, and our administration created a schedule for every teacher detailing whom to call and when. The schedule prioritized students who struggled during the first marking period, which meant conversations that really had to happen were more likely to occur.
Knowing whom I’d be meeting with was very helpful. Usually Parent-Teacher conference night is three hours of pure reaction: A parent walks through the door, I quickly try to identify them, place their child, locate their records, search my mind for what I want to tell them, and then move them along within three minutes because I’ve got 25 other parents waiting in line. This year I was able to prepare talking points and review student work ahead of time. It was much less hectic.
In my conversations I was struck by how grateful parents were. Parents are generally appreciative of the work teachers do, but there was something extra this year. Even though we could speak for only a few minutes, most parents made it a point to explicitly thank me both for what I’m doing in the classroom and for taking the time to call them. In fact, many of these conversations felt like thanking me was itself the point.
I made forty phone calls over the two days. It was exhausting, but worth it: A familiar feeling that made this year’s abnormal Parent-Teacher conferences feel very normal.