"I Guess I'm Doing Fine"

Interview w/Jackie,8th grader,who (aside from my conference w/ her & dad), hasn't had a parent/teacher conference in 4 yrs of middle school.

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Jackie is an incredibly self-motivated student.  Unlike many of her peers, Jackie advocates for herself and asks questions when she things aren't clear.  

She stated, "I've always had goals.  Like I knew I wanted to go to college when I was in 5th grade.  I'm trying to get my sister to care about goals too."  

Jackie is part of the school's AVID program and will likely be the first of her immediate family to go to and complete college.  Her family isn't "typical" of the families in the community. When I asked Jackie about when she last had a parent/teacher conference, she had a hard time remembering.  She said the only middle school conference she had was me as her elective Leadership and Design.  

"It's also hard because my parents work all the time and they can't really come to stuff at school and so I don't usually get to go to any of the fun stuff at school either."

Jackie: "When I first came to middle school [in 5th grade] it felt weird not to have a conference. I kept wondering why it wasn't happening, but then I just got used to it.  I had trouble with math and stuttered when I was little so I guess I thought I needed conferences then.  Now and in 6th, 7th and 8th grade you start to think, well if the teacher can't even tell me weaknesses, I'm pretty sure I'm good.  If the teachers aren't telling you any weaknesses you don't know you have them unless you explore on your own.  Or you think you are fine until you fail something.  I'm pretty good about asking questions and stuff, but it's hard sometimes when you think you are fine until you fail a test.  It's helpful to know before you get that far and that's usually the only time you or your parents hear anything from your teacher.

Also, what about other things like what's happening at home?  There's emotional stuff too and without meeting you can't get in depth with the student.  Like one time my grades went way down one week because my mom was away and no one knew what was happening." 


[Optional] Synthesize a little! In one sentence, describe something you learned from your empathy exercises or analogous research.

Teachers do not have the bandwith to conference with all families, so the kids that are "fine" often get left out. Don't we want our kids to be more than fine? We want them all to have the chance to be their BEST!


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