Meeting the Parents

I had parent-teacher conferences yesterday with the parents of fifteen of my seventeen students (usually I have a lot more students than this, but it’s our re-accreditation year, and I’m heavily involved in the self-study at my school).

Not one parent asked why we were using computers in history class.

Instead I was asked,

  • “Can you challenge our daughter more? She wants to write, but doesn’t know how.”
  • “Our son is having technical difficulties with his computer. Can you get him some help from the IT department at school?”
  • “Our son tells us he loves your class.”
  • “Our kid talked about Nero for a half-hour with us on Thursday.”
  • “Will you be doing more with Google Maps and Google Earth? Our son loves maps.”
  • “Do they stay on task, or is it all just wasted time?”
  • “Can you teach our daughter to use online translation services? The English of the primary sources is very difficult for her.”
  • “Will you teach a basic typing class so my son can express himself more quickly as part of your course?”
  • “Does our son need a better computer to do his work?” (My answer: no… he just needs to contribute more.)

And the parents told me,

  • “You’re very brave to do this.”
  • “We’re very pleased with you for taking this on.”
  • “It’s got to be difficult — they must want to go to Facebook all the time.”
  • “Finally he’ll use the computer for learning something.”
  • “I hope this makes him a better writer.”
  • “The way that wikis keep history files must be very useful for assessment.”
  • “Our son loves your class.”
  • “Our daughter worries about your class. She loves it and fears it at the same time.”

And most of what I said was,

  • “Your children are graded first on the frequency of their contributions, and then on the quality.”
  • “On the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog.” (from the old New Yorker cartoon)
  • “Write more, write clearly, edit often, read other students’ work, learn the standards, exceed them.”
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