I have just spent 7 hours of my life, in my own time, doing parents evening.
I have sat on the Blue Ball of Power whilst parents have talked to me, cried, told me about their love lives, their problems at home, and their hopes for their child.
They have sat on chairs too small for them whilst I have talked about National Averages, the importance of adverbial phrases in quality writing, and the potential for their child to get a level 5 in 3 years time.
We have commiserated together about the ability of 8 year old boys to go through 3 pairs of trousers in a term, tell fart jokes at inappropriate times, and how death affects a child in different but similar ways.
I have seen 17 of my 27 parents. 3 sets of divorced ones put aside their differences and came together. One set of recently separated ones managed the same thing, for which I am very proud of them.
Of those 17, I heard some amazing things.
"No one has ever told us they like our son." (He's an absolute wind-up merchant, who answers back, does the silliest things like lick glue sticks and try to open batteries by putting a chair leg on them and so on. But he's not a bad lad and is becoming much lovelier.)
"She wants to come to school now, for the first time!" (She's lovely, she just needed to chill out a bit and accept herself the way she is and then we can work on the academics)
"She's reading to herself and to her sister and to us at home." (She came to me in September and had to be bribed/threatened depending on parental mood to actually read her book.)
"How can we work together on this?" (I love it when parents want to know how to help. I wish I had all the answers!)
"Well, if she doesn't want to do her work, then you can't make her." (Ummmmmm yes I can, this is a school and she is a wilful child who gets away with too much at home!)
"We struggle with her on Tuesday mornings and we don't know why." (You won't next week - course is over - I passed - I'm back every day!)
I had 16 lovely parents and 1 who is in for a terrible, terrible shock because I will be making her child do the work that she is asked to do, even if the little precious doesn't want to. In the end, she will want to. I will find a way.
I told 5 parents that their children talk too much, but I wasn't cross, because it was 90% about the work they were doing. 10% was just being children. It's ok to be a child when you are 7/8/9 you know! We looked at ways around it, discovered there weren't so many, and came up with options for the children. I will be having Chat 1 with them today. It is a short chat involving "Do your work before the timer runs out and you can talk about it afterwards. If it isn't done, it's going home to be done.Oh, and your parents know and have pencils and rulers ready."
I told 3 parents that if their child didn't want to read the scheme reading book, then have him read something else and write that down in his reading book. No adult would read a book that they didn't like for recreational reading, so why should a child at the level theirs was at. Exactly. Even the sports pages of the newspapers have words in and they count! (Once the child is back into reading again, then we'll do 3 days scheme book, 4 days choice. Or skip to free reader if their level is good enough!)
Then I took off my professional hat, put on my mummy hat, and went to see the AC's teacher. She told me he was at National Average for writing (not below any more!), a level above for maths, and 3 levels above for reading. That he was a lovely child who works well in a group, in a pair, or on his own, that his attitude towards his work has improved, that whilst is grief still appears occasionally he and his classmates know how to deal with it, and that he has a very supportive and loving group of friends, to whom he is loving and supportive. That he is popular and helpful and kind and basically an all around good kid. That yes, he has a wicked sense of humour that mainly revolves around body parts and fart jokes, (perfectly normal in a boy child) but that he knows when to deploy it. That he is a child with children and almost an adult with adults. That he helps those children who find things hard and can do it without doing the work for them. That he has lost his PE kit, his reading book, his swimming kit and his plimsolls inside half a term, but that all but the plimsolls have turned up again eventually. That she likes him.
All of these things were phrases I had used to parents myself, not 30 minutes before. It's interesting to sit on both sides of that fence, to say and to hear and to feel both sides of it. I'm so proud of my son for all he has achieved, and I'm proud of my children for all that they are.
Did I mention I love my job?