Back in my day, parent-teacher conferences involved mums and dads trooping into the classroom at allotted times to talk to the teacher, with the student otherwise occupied elsewhere.
Knowing full well you were being discussed, you had little choice but to wait nervously – your ears ablaze – until your parents returned and you could gauge the expression on their faces as they walked through the door.
How times change.
Today we went to my six-year-old’s school for his student-led conference – which I presume are becoming popular the world over.
We’d been prepped by the school beforehand with a letter telling us what to do. It would be a ‘non-teaching day’ (which, and I did have to think about this, was a fancy way of saying ‘a day off for the kids’) with 30-minute slots for each child/parent combo.
The idea was for your child to take you through his or her work in the classroom. In case this whole concept was beyond us, we were advised to be supportive, be positive, be curious and to listen to our children.
A slight, okay glaring, error on my part meant our son was the only child not in school uniform when we rolled up for our turn (DH and I both looked at each other as if to say, “do you not read the emails?”), but I think I made up for it by asking BB lots of questions. Whilst lavishing praise, my journalism training meant I practically quizzed him and what I’d heard about these conferences was right: the kids jump at the chance to show off their work.
One of the books was a diary and, on further inspection, I realised his teacher must know everything about what we do as a family. Our trip to an airport museum in Sharjah, outings on the monorail, parties and visitors – it was all there, coloured in and with scrawly handwriting in places. Thank goodness there weren’t any pictures of mummy sitting on the sofa, glued to the iPad (phew).
As we went through his ‘portfolio’, the teacher was obviously listening from behind her desk, but wasn’t participating – BB did most of the talking and thoroughly enjoyed it.
At the end, as we were leaving, I nudged DH to remind him he’d wanted to ask the teacher about something on BB’s report card. “It’s okay,” he whispered. “I’ll wait till next time.”
Kids – when it comes to student-led conferences, you’re onto a winner!