Thursday, March 12, 2009

"What the teacher says" versus "What the teacher really means"

I went in for a parent-teacher conference a few months ago with Cole and Bella's preschool teacher and I listened to her use words like "spirited" and "natural-born leader" to describe my kids. While most parents would be beaming with pride to hear their children described by those words, I know better.

Back in the day, I used to be a preschool teacher and I also used words like "spirited" and "natural-born leader" to describe some of the kids in my class when I spoke with their parents. I liked to put a positive spin on things....to, well, lighten the blow. No parent wants to hear a teacher come right out and say, "Johnny is bossy and talks too much. None of the kids in the class like him and, come to think of it, neither do I". I just prayed that the parents would be able to read between the lines.

To be helpful, I thought I'd compile a list: "What the teacher says" versus "What the teacher really means".

What the teacher says: Johnny is very spirited.
What the teacher really means: Your kid is stubborn, non-compliant, cries at the drop of a hat and has the temperament of....um, a lion in captivity...and that's putting it mildly.

What the teacher says: Susie is a natural-born leader.
What the teacher really means: Your kid is bossy, pushy and overly opinionated.

What the teacher says: Johnny is very artistic.
What the teacher really means: Your kid is drawing pictures of skulls dripping with blood and it's really freaking me out.

What the teacher says: Susie likes to say what's on her mind.
What the teacher really means: Your kid is missing a sensitivity chip.

What the teacher says: Susie is a social butterfly.
What the teacher really means: Your kid never shuts her trap.

What the teacher says: Johnny enjoys his alone time.
What the teacher really means: Does the word "sociopath" mean anything to you?

What the teacher says: Susie really challenges me to be a better teacher.
What the teacher really means: Your kid makes me wanna drive off a cliff at the end of each school day.

What the teacher says: Johnny has boundless energy.
What the teacher really means: Your kid can't sit still for a minute. He kind of reminds of the Tazmanian Devil. And we all know how that turns out, right?

What the teacher says: When encouraged, Johnny seems to succeed well.
What the teacher really means: What the hell are you saying to your kid at home to make his self-esteem so low?

What the teacher says: Susie is always so organized.
What the teacher really means: Your kid is a type-A control freak.

What the teacher says: Johnny is such an easygoing child.
What the teacher really means: He's the laziest kid I've ever met. Pretty much have to light a fire under his ass to get him moving and shaking.

What the teacher says: Susie has a wonderful imagination.
What the teacher really means: Your kid lies her ass off. She could be the next James Frey.

What the teacher says: Johnny loves to share with his friends.
What the teacher really means: Thanks to your kid and his frequently snotty nose, most of the kids have been out sick this month.

33 comments:

Cascia said...

That is great! I'll have to remember your list when my daughter starts Kindergarten in a couple of years.

Shelli (wishes she was) Mrs. Burchett;) said...

I have a conference next week....I'm taking this post as my cheat sheet!

Hajar Zamzam Ismail said...

I'd like to homeschool my kids so I don't have to be told these things from a third party. I know my own snot-nosed brats and I love them anyway.

Semi-Slacker Mom said...

Let's see, I have a very spirited one, a natural born leader & a challenge!

The High Family said...

So true Helene...so true!

The first time I had a conference for Ryan (he was going on two years old at the Goddard School)...I told his teacher to just tell me how it is and she did. Of course his report card showed "positive" ways of expressing what he needed to work on BUT I loved that she straight out told me what he needed to improve on. I was so impressed with her honesty and once we start him up again, I will make sure to tell any future teachers to "tell me how it is" from now on...I just hope they have the guts to do it...but I also hope my children do not become the "Johnny enjoys his alone time" or " Susie is a natural-born leader" kid! LOL

Thanks for the laugh!

Yaya said...

Hahahaha! These are great! I love the way your mind works!

Ginny Marie said...

You have me laughing..again! I was a second grade teacher for many years...and sometimes it's difficult to come up with just the right phrase on those narrative report cards! I'll have to refer back to this post when I go back to teaching!

Christina said...

hahaha! i would lose IT if i taught preschool!

Rhonda said...

Yep, our daughter was described as "unique" and I asked the teacher in jest if she meant "strange" and the teacher could hardly contain her composure as I hit it right on the nail.

Minxy Mimi said...

HAHAHAHA
I think I need to copy this for later on!!

Zeemaid said...

I can't believe you had to have a parent teacher conference in preschool. I had my first parent teacher conference with E in kindergarten and I had to laugh because she even said to me.. did you like how I worded E's report card? If we're honest parents, we pretty much know what our kids are like.

Stacey said...

hahaha That was great!!

ComfyMom~Stacey said...

LOL!

My oldest is a natural born leader with boundless energy. I did warn the teacher about that on the first day.

MamaHenClucks said...

Great. Is it the same guidelines when the pediatrician tells you your daughter appears to be a natural born leader?

Jen said...

this is going to come in handy. thanks for the lesson.

Veronica Lee said...

My sons are 'spirited' !

AP said...

that is so funny and yet so true

Elle said...

I love this list! I've heard at least some of them over the years at parent/teacher conferences. Now I know what they were really telling me! LOL!

wife.mom.nurse said...

oh my gosh, I will never enjoy a teacher's conference again...

")

Creative Junkie said...

rotf! Seriously, Helene, where do you come up with this stuff? It's hilarious!

Stacy (the Random Cool Chick) said...

ROTFLMAO! Those are hilarious! I'm going to have to go back and look over Princess Naggers recent comments from her kindergarten teacher based on this additional insight... ;)

3 Bay B Chicks said...

Now the question is what did you say in response? If you were reading through the lines, did you at one point during the conference, say, "OK, cut the crap. Let's get down to business here. I know my kids aren't easy to deal with. I'm their mother. I know."

-Francesca

Tess said...

That had me laughing. I was tryingto think back when my older kids were little and what the teachers said! oh no!

Molly said...

As a former teacher, these really had me laughing. I believe this kind of language is called "diplomacy" ;)

Oh and thanks for the idea on the tubes for organizing my cords - I'm going to try that!

2SetsOfTwins4Me said...

My boys teachers are the opposite. They tell me how it is, and not during parent teacher conferences. ha

One of my twins wouldnt talk for half the year, i think its because he was shy, it was a new school from last year and him and his brother were split up this year. ANyways one of his teachers always mentioned him not talking "mosty he would do is point, say a few short words" WEll one day he just went into class talking up a storm and hasnt stopped yet.
Teacher said "mom, im not sure if that was the best thing"
and he has gotten in trouble because he wont listen to the teachers........I think he is better now but i say they got what they asked for. They wanted him to talk and when he finally did, he said what was on his mind. LOL

Amy W said...

Are you sure you didn't major in marketing??

Kathy B! said...

Very, very interesting. I need to pause now, and reflect back on previous conferences. I'm not a read between the lines kinda person. Wondering what I might've missed....

Lisa said...

I printed your list in a tiy font and laminated it making a handy dandy pocket guide.

Thanks!

Shari said...

The good thing is these comments foreshadow what your children will go when they grow up. My teachers told my mom I was a chatty, social butterfly. I'm sure she meant it in a "fix your kid" kind of way, but now I'm in marketing communications.

Pam said...

Visiting from SITS. LOVE this post. So funny and so true. I've heard quite a few of those comments in parent teacher conferences. Fortunately (or unfortunately) I was usually able to read between the lines.

Heather Happymaker said...

Hilarious and so true!

I don't know how you keep coming up with such good stuff post after post. Keep it coming!

D said...

Needed a good laugh! Thanks.

Nobodys Nothings said...

i love it! it's so true!

I figure that if the children are alive when my husband gets home at the end of the day, I've done my job.

----Roseanne Barr



 
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