Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Parent/Teacher Conferences

Well, here I am, sitting at Parent/Teacher Conferences. It's been a pretty busy night. I've had 21 different conferences, and some of those are for students I have in more than one class. I don't enjoy sitting in a chair for 3 1/2 hours, but I don't actually mind conferences. It took me about 10 years of teaching to feel that way though. When I was younger, I always felt like, "What right do I have to tell parents about their kids?" Especially when I was 22 or 23, it felt ridiculous. Now, I feel like I have some authority. It's really only come with age though.

One thing that's hard about teaching TAG is that my classes mostly work on long-term kinds of projects. That means I never have many grades in the gradebook. This frustrates some parents (and some kids too) who are very grade driven and want to monitor grades online every single day. It also stinks for the kids who are terrible at time management. But... the long-term projects really let the kids do in-depth research. Most of the time in school, we have to cover a lot of topics quickly... the mile-wide/inch-deep way of thinking. In my class, the kids can go with an inch-wide/mile-deep way of researching. They can really become the experts on topics, and that's cool.

My 6th graders did a good job at Invent Iowa. We even have one invention going on to State, so that's exciting. My 7th graders are headed to History Day competition on March 17, so they're working hard on their projects. I'm going to have entries in performance, exhibit, and documentary. I'm glad they're trying all sorts of things. The theme this year is "The Individual in History." 8th graders are prepping for their Images of Greatness night. Their papers are written, and now they're working on timelines and bio-riddles. The bio-riddles will be memorized and presented at their big Images of Greatness event. They dress as the person they've chosen and try to have the audience guess who they are. They prepare a display board and also a food to share that has something to do with the person, where the person is from, or the time period when the person lived. The food is the most creative part of the project, and it's fun to see what they come up with.

I only have 15 minutes left at this point. Between conferences and blogging, the night has gone pretty quickly. I hope it goes as quickly when I get to do it all over again on Thursday night. The nice thing about the 2nd night of February conferences is that we get to have it our individual classrooms. That forces me to clean my classroom up a little, and I can also get some school things done that I normally couldn't get done during conferences. The only bad thing about my GOAL classroom though is that it's away from all the other teachers. I'm sort of in a little corner by myself. I miss the days when I taught with my friends Patti and Virginia, and we'd have the door between our classrooms open a little. We would chat during the down time, and that really made the night go quickly.

OK... I've rambled on enough for tonight. 10 minutes left. I can do it. I can do it. I can do it. :)

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