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A Parent-Teacher Conference Without Any Parents

Earlier this week my school held parent-teacher conferences. The turnout for my class, with 21 of 27 students represented, was considered good. Still I was surprised and frustrated by some of the no-shows. Meanwhile, it’s March and I have yet to meet a parent for two of my students. This is more than discouraging, it’s just sad.

I know these parents work all hours and more than likely multiple jobs. But I’ve reached out every way I know how, with no success.

Luckily these two students go against the trend I’ve seen over the years, and are in fact two of my top readers. Nonetheless I wish deeply I could share their learning, their strengths, and needs with someone at home.

In the meantime, I tried something different. I held the conference with the student.

In some ways it was no different from the regular conferences I have during daily lessons. First we talked about her most recent writing piece. Then we looked at her scores from the fall and winter English language arts and math simulations. I told her how bright she is and how proud she should feel but reminded her she has to continue working hard and trying her best. She has a bad habit of being bossy and a bit of a bully and we talked about that too.

Then something strange happened when I asked if she knew that I’m happy to have her in my class. She said no. “No matter how upset I get over your behavior at times, that will never change,” I explained. “I love having you in my class, and you should always remember that.”

I hope I can find a way soon to meet with her mom and dad to tell them what I told their daughter.

About our First Person series:

First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.