During Syd’s seventh grade year the middle school stopped having traditional parent-teacher conferences. The school implemented a "spiffy" new program called Student Lead Conferences, which required Syd and me to return to the school after hours and sit awkwardly in a classroom with other parents and students, and pretend to examine her current grades and a selection of tests and papers, while her homeroom teacher hovered around. Productive huh?
I went along with this charade for most of the year, until one particular conference when an unsuspecting young boy was brutally tag teamed by his parents. His tears and humiliation were a tough thing to witness, and I don’t know who was more uncomfortable – him or Syd. I wasn’t privy to the conversation that evening, but I’m willing to bet that it involved privileges, grounding and lots of other things that shouldn’t have been discussed in that classroom, in front of his peers.
I never went back for a Student Lead conference during Syd’s tenure at the middle school and when Rea started there last year, some five years after her sister, I continued to politely ignore the scheduling requests.
I explained to Rea why I didn’t like to go and she agreed that she didn’t want to participate and we’ve been going about our merry way until today, when some teacher informed Rea that it was MANDATORY that I attend the Student Lead conferences.
And now, I’m having a bit of a problem with that word: MANDATORY. The word mandatory means that the powers-that-be at the middle school have commanded, required or inferred that this Student Lead conference is compulsory. They’ve said that I don’t have a choice. That I am unable to make my OWN decision in this matter. I don’t recall reading any such thing on any of the various manious papers that I’m was forced to sign under duress at the beginning of the school year. So I really don’t see how, I, a 47 year old adult can be forced to attend said conference against my free will.
I don't have a thing against conferences or a problem with hearing about my girls. In fact, I’d love to have a good old-fashioned sit down with their teachers – I think that would be time well spent. I miss those brief one-on-one sessions with them; they were a great source of information about how they were doing in the classroom both academically and socially.
However, I personally don't happen to think that Student Lead conferences are constructive - and as an ADULT and a PARENT I have opted not to participate, because I CAN.
But, the biggest dilemma of all is making the right decision for Rea. Do I let her get caught in a battle of wills between me and the school or do I try to make nice and go to the conference and pretend to look at the papers and really play Tic-Tac-Toe?