29. Conferences

At least twice a year, parents and teachers have conferences to discuss children’s progress. The conferences are mostly friendly encounters. There may be some anxiety at first (Am I parenting well? Am I teaching well?), but it doesn’t usually last long.
Because these conferences are such a time-honored tradition, we are apt to forget an important aspect of what is happening: Some people are gathering behind a closed door to discuss another person who is not there.
Most children are curious about the conferences we have; they want to know what was said. Some want all the details, and some just want the bottom line: good news or bad news? Some are annoyed that they are being discussed, some are flattered, and some attend the conferences.
I think this is another issue full of questions that don’t have right and wrong answers. I have had children come to conferences. Their parents and I agreed that it would be good to have the children there. The appreciations and suggestions were, after all, for the children. There was no need for an intermediary. For some families, this point of view works. For others, it makes no sense at all.
I don’t think I would have wanted to be there when I was a child being discussed at a conference. Mrs. Remavich, my fifth grade teacher, said I fooled around in class. I’m not sure I would have wanted to face my accuser at the time. Looking at it now from my adult point of view, I was probably trying out ways to relate to people. “Fooling around” was just her name for the important social learning I was doing. But back then I probably would have just hung my head in shame.
There are plenty of confidentiality/candor issues at work, school, and home. I think each case has to be examined individually. I guess my reason for even writing this article is that I think we sometimes forget to think about the issues when we think about discussing children. When”mum” is said too automatically, we may miss opportunities for important communication.

Comments are closed.