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Parent-Teacher Interviews Are A Total Waste Of Time (I Skip Them)

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The sink in my main floor washroom is “design-flawed.” It is a contemporary sink and looks good, yet every time you turn on the tap, you get splashed (the sink is way too shallow).

I think parent-teacher interviews are design-flawed, too.

My daughter, who is just finishing up second grade, has been at the same school for four years. In all that time, I have attended a grand total of one parent-interview. And, as the school year comes to a close, there will be another parent-teacher interview. I will not be going.

Why? I do not believe in the parent-teacher interview. I do not see the point or benefit.

Things have drastically changed from when I went to school. The way math is now  taught has changed. You are not allowed to send peanut butter to school. Children work on iPads. There are anti-bullying laws. Teachers can choose how they want to be addressed. The list goes on.

When I was young, and there were parent teacher-interviews, it was almost like a night out for my parents. “We have parent teacher interviews tonight,” they’d tell my siblings and me, full of nervous energy.

The one thing that has not changed over the years is damn parent-teacher interviews. When I hear that it’s parent-teacher interview day, all I think is, Crap, school ends early today. Also, What year do I live in…1984?

My very first parent-teacher interview (of course I went the first time), I met with a number of my daughter’s teachers. The music teacher had nothing to say to me. Her language teacher had nothing to say. Even her main teacher had nothing to say. I had more to say to a great aunt, twice removed, that I haven’t seen in years than I had to my daughter’s teachers.

Yes, I was happy to hear my daughter was doing just fine in school, but I left feeling like it was an hour wasted of my time. I already knew my daughter was doing fine. Do parents simply attend these things to get off on hearing positive things about their child? Perhaps. Maybe they go, too, because there’s automatic value placed when you see someone face to face. Perhaps you seem like a more committed parent. But that would b wrong.

I’m a laid-back parent, for sure, except when it comes to education. Which means my daughter and I practice spelling tests together each week. I check out her knapsack every day to see what she has brought home. I ask her every day what they did at school. We go through her report cards together. I am a committed parent.

But even if my daughter didn’t do well in school, I still think parent-teacher interviews are bullshit. Parent-teacher interviews happen three times a school year. Which means months go by between these meetings. If there is a problem with my daughter – if she is behind in spelling, if she is not socializing properly, if she can’t keep up with any of the subjects – well, sorry, why should parents wait months to hear this? Is it not better for the teacher to tell parents sooner than later there’s an issue? (See? Parent-teacher interviews are design-flawed.)

I believe teachers should call or e-mail as soon as they see a problem or have even the slightest worry. If I have a problem or a concern, I do not wait for the day of the parent-teacher interview to share my concerns. I make a call, or send an e-mail, immediately.

All the teachers at my daughter’s school have e-mail addresses. We get weekly update e-mails every week from the teachers sharing what the students have learned that week. You’d have to be a parent who lives under a rock, or not have any connection at all with your child, not to know what’s happening or what your child is learning. At least that’s the case with my daughter’s private school.

I think about public schools, where the student/teacher ratio appalls me. Not that I think private schools are better (actually, I do, but that’s not the point right now), but even at public schools, I still do not see the point of parent-teacher interviews. Do you not talk to your child every day to see how their day went? Do you not get report cards? Do you not see their tests? If they aren’t doing well, or they are telling you something that bugs them, do you not want to get on the phone immediately to try and fix the problem? Or do you wait three months until the next parent teacher interview, so your rage builds up?

If you have a child who has special needs, and probably especially if you do, are you really waiting every few months to catch up with teachers to see if your child is “coming along?” Don’t you want more regular updates, like every week?

Like my sink, parent-teacher interviews are good in theory, and may look good to parents and teachers, but are they really necessary in this day and age?

In an ideal world, I believe a parent should be able to contact a teacher with any concern at any time. In an ideal world, that teacher should be getting back to parents within 24 hours.

I really don’t see how much more time it would take out of a teacher’s schedule, considering not every parent would be calling and e-mailing. And, in fact, it may even save time in the end. If teachers left messages or sent e-mails, “Just to let you know your child is doing great and everything is good,” that would last 30 seconds, as opposed to the 15 minutes you get during these face-to-face meetings.

Of course, I’m the one who wanted a modern sink, which is design-flawed. But I truly believe parent teacher interviews are so old-school (pun intended) that I almost want to put on a pioneer bonnet and churn butter with my hands.

(Photo: Comstock)