Here’s a scene from my son’s parent-teacher conference:
Teacher (hands me several current itemized grade reports): “As you can see, he is doing great. His grades are excellent. A’s and A+’s in homework, classwork and tests (Big smile).”
Me (expressionless): “I see.”
Teacher (moves on to next report on reading ability; more of the same): “He is a very good reader.”
Me (growing weary): “Yes, I know. He’s been a voracious reader since first grade (he’s now in fifth). I know Ethan makes good grades. He’s a very conscientious worker, but what are his strengths and weaknesses?
Teacher (obviously groping for an answer): “Um, hmm, he participates often (more smiling).”
Me (exasperated): “Ok, thanks. Have a nice night.”
I saw another teacher, and the conference was virtually identical to this one. Realizing that looking at computerized assessments of my child’s learning was making me nauseous, I decided to end the evening early.
While I understand that most parents would rave about a child receiving straight A’s (some even announce it with bumper stickers), it sickens me to have my children’s learning measured in such a meaningless fashion.
One teacher did ask her students to write a narrative evaluating what they had learned so far and what they believed their teachers’ assessments would be. This turned out to be the only part of parent-teacher conferences that told me anything about my child. It was clear that he understood his learning more than his teachers did.
Sadly, to them, he seems like nothing more than 10 out of 10 on homework and A’s and A+’s on a report card.
I’m tired of this. Am I the only one who wants more from teachers?
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Mark Barnes is the Founder of Times 10 Publications, which produces the popular Hack Learning Series
, The uNseries
, and other books from some of education's most reputable teachers and leaders. Barnes presents internationally on assessment, connected education, and Hack Learning. Connect with @markbarnes19 on Twitter