Yesterday, we had Class Parent Teacher Meeting in school. We’ve had numerous PTA Meetings, where attendance is usually limited to parents who want to make an noise and bring in complaints (never, till date, have I ever seen a meeting here, where something positive, either about Student/Teacher is expressed!), and some grouped meetings, that Parents of some classes grouped together are asked to attend to discuss common matters pertaining to that class. Usually to do with syllabus or general developmental issues (of Children ie).
In the newly patterened meeting, the Parents of one Class, the same division of the class, met together with the Class Teacher and their children, in a full group, had a general session followed by individual one on one meeting for those parents who wanted to have more to say/ask. From nine in the morning to twelve noon the room was fully populated 🙂 Well I have 52 students, most of whose parents did attend 🙂 .
A lot of common issues were taken up first, else what usually happens is that the same question gets asked innumerable times. Eg. My son/daughter does not read. How can I get him/her to do so? Or He/She just does not open her text books! What can we do.
(Mind you, this same question would have been asked by the same parent, on all the previous occasions we would have met 😀 Do you get the exasperated feeling I sometimes have? ) So these were addressed early, in the whole group, thinking that it would not get repeated later. Boy! Was I wrong! Now I know I shall have even more patience with their kids! 😀
A few pointers were also given. Asking parents to be aware of what their child does on the internet, their use of FB, who calls, what is discussed 😀 And also the fact that most times notes are copied over the phone, instead of being completed in class, where they are given time to 😀
The moment I indicated that the general session was over, my table was surrounded. Fighting panic, I suggested the parents join a line that had already formed, to my right, where there was more space. I must admit that they complied. Perhaps because I did not listen to anyone’s remarks/questions/ suggestions, but only smiled, broadly and insisted, patiently that they do. The smile I am sure did not reach my eyes! 😛 And, well, they probably knew what their kids had told them about the ogre I could be 😛 😛
While most parents were kind and inquired after my health, and expressed they were glad to see
my (typo, do excuse me :D) me back, one particular irritable parent came with his stubborn looking son, and his long suffering wife. (This child had, in the previous year, been caught for being part of a group of boys who supplied/exchanged/ shared pornographic films – they’re known more familiarly here as “Blue Films” – in school. Sigh. Please believe this to be entirely true. 😦 ) The child in question, let’s call him A, was all ready for a verbal lashing from the teacher (me) to his father, who was adept at it, and who looked belligerently, daring the teacher to say anything kind about him. I mean, here was a child, who has never had much positive said about him, either at home, or at school (an only child).
Father: Teacher, what do you have to say about him? (Pointing to his son, whose expression was filled with daggers at his father)
A (his thoughts, probably): Dad, can’t you just shut up?!
Me: Oh, A? Yes, well, he’s improved vastly, and he pays attention in class. I must tell you that was one the few children in class who had completed his notes and had even done it neatly. I checked yesterday. Isn’t it, A? (A. nods, quickly looks at father, and the sullen expression is back when he sees no smile on his father’s face.)
Father: But, teacher, he does not speak in English at all!
Me: Oh he does, to me, in English class. And in most of the other classes!
Father: But to others in class, he does not. (all this is spoken in Malayalam 😛 )
Me: (Smiling through my teeth 😀 )You see, Sir, why does anyone use a language? To communicate. And if A can communicate in Malayalam, when there is no need for him to use it (read, no Teachers are around to check 😀 ) why would he? Would you? Language as I see it, is need based, and if they can get by in another language they will. Most kids I know, who can speak English fluently still use Malayalam to interact with each other. All classes. And if he were to continuously speak only in English, he would be laughed at, here. Peer pressure is a strong deterrent, so while I am sorry he does, not, and because we do not have “punishments” to check that, sometimes this happens. But , I assure you, he can speak, and well too.
Father: (more annoyed) But something has to be done! He does not read at all!
Me: Do you? (turning to his wife, who had a deadpan expression, and let her husband do all the talking; I’ve been told that neither her son, nor her husband value her words or opinions) Do you?
Father: Yes, I do. And I buy him books.
Me: Do you read, with him? I mean, during the same time, share things with him, etc?
Father: But he does not! (he hasn’t answered my question, but I’ve had it with him, and am beginning to feel sorry for the child! )
Me: Have you tried incentives? Do, please, and do remember that they’re at an age when it is difficult for them to cope with so much of stimuli around them. I assure you, A will do well, and he will be able to do all of this!
A. by now is looking rather astonished at this exchange, but quickly brings back the stubborn expression when noticed. The unhappy father, the long-suffering mother and their recalcitrant son are then gently signalled off, with a sweet “thank you, we’ll certainly work on this”, and the next parent invited to come up! Phew! I almost wiped imaginary beads of sweat from my brow, theatrically 😛
The next parent had been all ears, at this exchange and the moment she stepped up with her son B. , who is A.’s classmate, she said, Teacher, you don’t have to say anything more! I know what you’re trying to say, and yes, I did want to tell you all about B, being this way. But yes, the peer pressure is a factor we do need to take account of! Thank God for parents like this 🙂 They give me back my faith in humanity 🙂 🙂
For three hours, I stood (as did my brethren at school 🙂 ), smiled, talked, endlessly. But I must say that it was fruitful. We did not give out report cards, we simply shared what we knew of the children, discussed ways and means for their betterment, sometimes complained a little (both parents, and me 😀 ), ranted a bit (me 😛 ), and I do believe we have all taken away something positive from the interaction.
This meeting was something a lot of us were against saying that it would have been better had it been a bigger group, not small individual class groups, but I know I was wrong in thinking that. Tired, and rather exhausted though I was, I learnt a lot, and gained much by it. For once, I’m happy to be wrong 🙂
22 January, 2012
(I’m Keeping My Promise to myself (posting each Sunday), though I’ve decidedly become wordy again! 😛 Can’t help it 🙂 )