I enjoy parent-teacher interviews, in general. I like meeting parents, I think it's an important part of the teaching job and I don't mind it at all.
However, I teach in a school where a lot of kids have a lot of pressure to "get straight A's". Well.
I do not just hand out "straight A's" so that's the first problem.
You see, in Ontario... "Meeting Expectations" is a B - or "level 3". If a child learns everything they're supposed to in the overall curriculum expectations, and demonstrates this knowledge consistently... they are level 3, or B. To get an "A", or level 4, they have to be EXCEEDING expectations -- this level is typically reserved for children who have a strong aptitude in specific areas. They may be making deeper connections to the topic they are learning and other subject areas they have learned before, they are writing with a lot of detail above and beyond what you would expect for their age and stage of development. You don't just get A's anymore in Ontario elementary schools, you get B's.
This is a concept my parent community DOES NOT understand. The pressure put back on me as the teacher about this point drives me up the WALL. It's the one part of parent interviews that gives me the biggest headache.
After enough parents being "disappointed" that their child is generally a B-average (AAARGSH!!), I began to reflect.
What is most important in life -- developing good character, learning to set goals and assess them, and learning to process and understand the messages in the media that kids are inundated with these days... or the specific letter grade on a report card when you're 8-years-old?! I don't care that the parents of my students are only obsessed with final marks... I'm still teaching good character and team-building, because I do think it will help their child be a more successful adult in the long run. I'm teaching critical thinking skills, inquiry-based learning, and I'm also making the classroom FUN... because students need good social skills and communiciation skills to be successful one day, too.
It's elementary school!
How much of my day is spent dealing with issues because kids are NOT NICE to one another?! MOST of our day. MOST. We have so many lessons interrupted having to deal with recess issues, with issues of bullying. I won't stand for that behaviour, so I'm taking a pro-active approach -- these kids need to learn how to be GOOD people. NICE people. KIND people.
I had some lovely parents too, who got it and were happy. However, I'm a teacher who cares more about teaching good character, equity, inclusivity, and about managing in the broader world outside the classroom walls, than drill work and easy A's working in a school where parental expectations are skewed and where high academic achievement is the only thing valued.
It's not easy, but for the sake of the kids, I'm keeping up with what I'm doing. Daily happiness for children... if we want them to be successful, I completely believe they need to learn to be happy, self-confident, and respectful of each other. I just do.
I'm off to make a cup of tea and try to just de-stress! I hate assessing 8-year-olds with letter grades, just sayin'.