I have told you all about my experience with my first conference and I really appreciate all of the advice that I received. It is a good thing that I read all of the advice before my last conference, because it was an experience that I never could have imagined. The conference was scheduled for 5:00 in the afternoon and, of course, the mom was late, 15 minutes. So, as I waited for her to show up I was in the other room talking to some of the other teachers and the principal when the dad walks in and says “Hello?” I ran over to the room and greeted the parents only to find that it was just the father. It just caught me off guard a little bit since the mom was the one that had called me three times to voice her concerns and made the appointment. Let me just mention that before this conference began I was informed that the dad had very strong opinions and was very out spoken. So, you can just imagine how nervous I was when he walked in instead of the mom.
I started the conference by telling the father all of his daughter's strengths (thanks for the advice!) and what a joy she is in the classroom, which is really true. The mom might not have been there herself but she was there in spirit. She had given the father a list of her concerns for him to bring up at the conference! As the conference continued his main concern seemed to be that the state's new “F.A.I.R.” test showed his daughter only at a 10% probability of success rate. The assessments showed her below where she needed to be in reading. The dad had gotten advice from someone in the family who is a teacher who said that they had heard his child read and that there was no way that she was struggling in reading.
About 10 minutes go by and I am finally getting him to understand that we are concerned and that putting her in an extra intervention program for reading comprehension does not mean that she is going to be labeled as ESE. Since that really seemed to be his main worry, he finally started to listen and work with me on the idea of the intervention. Just as I start to get comfortable, guess who walks in? If you guessed the principal, you are absolutely correct! WOWZERS! Now I am right back to the beginning of being nervous. When she came in, of course, the dad directed the same questions to her that we had just gone over, and, lucky for me, all the answers were exact. I think that gave the dad confidence in me that I was not yanking his chain and that I really did care about his daughter and was trying to do everything possible to help her. Once the conference was over (and boy was I glad it was over), the dad thanked me and the principal gave me a wink (which I took to mean she was pleased with my performance)! It made me feel phenomenal! So thanks to all of you who gave me advice about conferences!! I needed it all! I used it all!