The Student Led Conference - The 7th Circle of Hell

Filed under: Opinions

When the school year rolls around to student conference time, there are three options a parent has to look forward to: A good conference, a bad conference, and the student-led conference.

Many of my out-of-state friends had never heard of the student-led conference, so I'm not sure if it's a Michigan thing, or just an annoyance used in our particular school district, so let me elaborate on this marvel of modern education.

Remember when you were a kid and your parents asked you what you did in school that day?
Well, you didn't know it at the time, but that was a student led conference!
Only in today's student-led conference, parents have to schedule a time at the school, cram their behinds into tiny chairs, stuff their knees under the low table and try to keep a calm look on their face as their kid stammers, "uh, uh, uh....then we read. And we do math stuff. And we uh..............write stuff about things........ and stuff. Then it's lunchtime. And then we have recess." because the teacher is sitting there too, probably assessing how well the parent copes with stress.

My first student-led conference was with my oldest, who was a 5th grader at the time.
He stammered and yammered about things he knew I already knew and finally mentioned something about Lit Circle. I asked (in my very polite company voice for the benefit of the teacher smiling serenely at me), "What exactly is Lit Circle?"
And he said very slowly, like he was talking to someone a few beers short a six-pack, "It STANDS FOR......LIT-ER-A-TURE.......CIRCLE. WE READ BOOKS".
And because I was trapped in the seventh circle of hell, the one labeled "Student-led Conferences", I couldn't do anything but smile serenely back (although I might have been kicking his shin under the low table.)

The last three minutes of that student-led conference the teacher gave me his report card. He was getting a D in math and C's in social studies and science.
The blood drained from my face, because the STUDENT LEADING THE DAMN CONFERENCE had failed to mention that he was accidentally throwing out bad tests before his parents could get a glimpse at them as well as omitting the incomplete homework assignment part and was GOING TO FLUNK THE 5TH GRADE IF HE DIDN'T GET HIS HEAD OUT PRONTO, but our twenty minutes with the teacher was up.

Since that first student-led conference, I've suffered through one a year for each of my children and have yet to learn a single bit of information I didn't know before going in: they're decent students who are lousy at public speaking and giving presentations.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.