Fall is - tomorrow, and in a few days or weeks you will be in your child's classroom (hopefully they will have a nice chair for you and not the miniature sized chair that only your angel can sit in) sitting across or beside their teacher discussing his/her progress for that grading period.
Coming from the other side of the desk, your teacher has quite a bit to share with you but sometimes may not have the time or the professional license to tell you everything you need to know. Here are some "clues" that will help you decipher the hidden art of teacher language.
1. "Frank is a wonderful child!"
Translation: "I would like to say more about your child but they are a wallflower in class and I barely just learned their name. Do you know what it's like keeping track of 28 children and then needing to attend Tuesday faculty meetings and keeping my weight/social life and paper work all in check?"
Used for: Parents who do not show up/volunteer/or interact with other parents at the school and remain "nameless and faceless" because let's face it - they are "interact- less". These students typically do not talk or participate during class and may have a difficult time speaking up because there is just too much going on around them.
2. "I think that Don is very creative."
Translation: "Your child has some hidden artistic talents that you might want to invest in, but our school does not have an after-school program because, it's all about the STEM baby!"
Used for: Parents who may not know their child as well as they think they do. These are the children that secretly draw, play music, write poetry, or hide in the basement with their stop motion figures when their parents are home and do not want to bother them with their hobbies. They might be the next Jony Ive, Steve Jobs, Elon - you know what I mean.
3. "Charles is a natural leader."
Translation: "He (or she) is the boss. Whenever there is a group assignment your child takes control of the group. I don't know if the other kids like it, but I don't have any complaints..."
Used for: Parents who want their child to study business or "take over" when they go on vacation/date night. These are the parents that are likely to volunteer more at your school so they can pad this "unpaid work" on their resume or (worse yet) their LinkedIn profile.
4. "Caleb has problems following directions."
Translation: "I want to say that your child has attention issues, but this is the politically correct way for me to say this without losing my job or you trying to contact my supervisor to find out more information."
Used for: Parents who need confirmation that they need to talk to some psychologist/counselor/doctor/guru/talk show host or friend of a friend who knows a friend that will try to solve their problem. [Deposit $3,000 of your hard earned money below and the gatekeeper will let you in.]
5. "Christine is an angel!"
Translation: Hey, all of the teachers that I had in elementary/middle school and high school told my father this. (Yes, it was my father who had the envious task of attending my parent teacher conferences and I was so embarrassed whenever he was there. He made it sound like I did not have a choice but to be a good student because if I wasn't - he probably would have disowned me, or blame it on my mother.)
I'm not sure what to make of it - (if only my teachers could see me now, relentless when it comes to my strong convictions) but it means that your child is a rule follower. Dependable as they may be - the teacher really does like your child and looks forward to working with your child.
Used for: Parents that need their children to be valedictorian/get into a great university or worse, change the world with their ideas/actions. These are parents that bring up extremely engaging children that have the opinions of a Supreme Court Justice but the work ethic of an accountant on April the 15th.
6. "Charlotte has so much potential."
Translation: For some reason that I cannot understand, your child has commitment issues. Commitment to doing the homework or project and more often than not, commitment to even turning in the homework. They are at a loss for words because they can only tell you what they observe, but not why the child is that way to begin with.
Used for: Parents who show up late to meetings and do not turn things in on time. The apple does not fall far from the tree either.
If you, or a parent you know has had a fantastic or disappointing Parent-Teacher Conference, please feel free to share in the comments below or you can always email them to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The comments above are the personal opinions/convictions/observations of the author, Christine Javier. If you wish to contact Christine for Educational Consulting, you can call me at (404) 964-8533.