Pop QuizPrimary EducationSecondary Education

Pop Quiz: Back to School Night

I dress to the nines.  There is not a single dog hair on me, there are no wrinkles in my clothes (which if you ever met me you’d realize how big a deal that is), my shoes are professional, but not as practical as I normally wear. This is my armor.  I arrive early.  I prepare by laying out papers and setting up my presentation.  I set my MP3 player to play the album Time Out by the Dave Brubeck Quartet and then I remember I do NOT need to listen to Blue Rondo A La Turk tonight and I skip to Strange Meadow Lark.  Through the music and preparation I enter a Zen like state that is the beginning of Back to School Night.

But alas that Zen state is very short lived.

I do not know how common the practice is of setting up a time where parents can meet all of their child’s teachers, but every school I’ve taught at has had one.  Parents travel through their child’s schedule, sitting silently staring at me as I yammer.  Just call me Mr. Darcy, because this quote sums up my entire night:

“I certainly have not the talent which some people possess of conversing easily with those I have never seen before. I cannot catch their tone of conversation, or appear interested in their concerns, as I often see done.”

This is my least favorite part of teaching.

I see those teachers who converse easily with parents, flitting about with their wit and insight, and I envy them. I envy them because…

I fake it.

I have a list of conversation points that I hit, and I feel like a teenager who just realized that they are 6 inches taller than they were.  Their pants are too short, their arms are too long and navigating the world is just a series of bouncing off of things in the environment.  I stumble my way through one of my most dreaded night.

My only consolation is that I have learned that I am not alone.  There are many people who share my dread.  I once complimented a colleague about how she handled an irate parent on back to school night.  She looked at me, blinked and asked me what she said.  I knew then that I had a buddy.

So today’s question is how does back to school night feel for you? If you are a parent what do you want to get out of back to school night?

Featured Image 02062012 -AD – Pembroke Pines 24 by US Department of Education

The Pop Quiz is a question posed to you, the Scholars of Doubt. Look for it on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays in the afternoon (ET).


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Jennifer teaches science in a public school in Pennsylvania. She lives there with her husband and two dogs.

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