There has been a lot of talk on the internet right now about “if you could have anything you want for Christmas, what would it be?” and for me, it would be to attend middle school exhibition nights EVERY DAMN NIGHT OF THE WEEK. Forever. Because when I left the house for work this morning at 7 a.m., I thought “I really hate this house, I hope I don’t have to spend any time in it.” I went to work until 4:30, got home at 5, and at 5:10 had to leave to take my son to his middle school exhibition night.
I thought to myself, “Self, I hope the middle school is under construction and there’s no parking!” and my wish came true! The construction and parking is so bad that they paid to shuttle parents by bus from the high school parking lot, and had I really thought about that, what better way to ride to a middle school exhibition night than on an unheated school bus with the temperature at 3 degrees! What a missed opportunity! Since The Son had to be there at 5:30, but the parents weren’t allowed in the school until 6, I found a rare parking spot at 5:20 and addressed Christmas cards for a half hour in my car.
At 6 p.m., I went into the school in a herd of parents, where we all had to search for our kids’ schedules on the wall. We then went to a classroom and sat, and it turns out that no one knew what was going on. There were no teachers in the rooms, so the kids said, “Well, I guess we start now” and five kids, four of whom I don’t know, said what their weaknesses are on different projects each of them did this semester that no parent really seemed to understand. The kids were done talking in 10 minutes, looked at each other, and said, “Do any of you have any questions?” I saw a list of suggested questions on the back of the program, so I asked the only robo-question and the kids finished. We still had 30 minutes until the next session. The kids said, “We’ll see you in room B14 in 30 minutes.”
Do you mean to tell me that the same kids are giving the same presentation in a DIFFERENT ROOM in 30 minutes?
Oh, no. The same kids and the same audience are moving to a different room, but this time they’re telling us their STRENGTHS on the projects we don’t know anything about. And they will be done with this presentation in 15 minutes. And then we sit looking at our watches until the last segment.
In the last segment, we go into yet another room, where our student takes out a laptop, logs in, and shows us their career plan through graduation. Except that there is no teacher or administrator in sight, half of the kids don’t know how to log on or where to go on the site, all parents are confused. We all sign a piece of paper that says we saw it so we can leave, and walk out into the hallway full of frustrated parents, all bitching about why they got called into the school for two hours for this mandatory thing during one of the busiest weeks of the school year. At least I didn’t have to get on the bouncy unheated school bus to ride back to the high school parking lot.
All told? That’s two hours of my life I’ll never get back. TWO HOURS.
Teachers – I think you’re great. I check the parent portal, and go to conferences and communicate with you when needed. I respect that you went to college and got a teaching degree, and that is your job – to teach kids. You don’t need me in the school micro-managing your work, just like I don’t want you coming to my job to tell me what to do. I have faith that you can do what you were hired to do, and if I lose that faith, or if my child isn’t giving the effort they need to give, let’s talk. I know your doors are open if there’s a problem. I KNOW you don’t want to be at that school for over two hours at night, away from your own family, a week and a half before break, when there are a million other concerts and programs and end-of-year things going on. So let’s put our heads together and figure out a way, that when someone says “Let’s have another two-hour evening event in December or May on project-based learning!” we can put them in a trunk and park them out at Walmart. Deal?
On a lighter note, Iowa State women just beat the Iowa Hawkeye women in basketball, keeping them undefeated, and the undefeated Iowa State Cyclone men’s basketball team, ranked #17 in the nation, takes on the Iowa Hawkeye men’s team, ranked #23, tomorrow night. I. CAN’T. WAIT.