Wednesday, February 27, 2008
And the learning continues...
Yesterday evening was Grade Eleven Parents night. As I teach a year eleven English class with a handful of particularly disruptive students whose parents I was interested in meeting, was definitely looking forward to it. While my personal and professional experiences with parent/teacher interviews go something along the lines of: parents come in and sit down with the individual teachers and receive feedback on how their children are performing, the layout of this evening's event was remarkably different.
For starters, it took place in a classroom. I had asked another teacher what the turnout for this event usually was, she told me that if everyone came we should have around 200 parents, (am unsure if this meant one or two parents per student, though I am inclined to think one, as we surely have at least 200 grade eleven students), but a good turnout would be somewhere around 70.
My guess would be that 70 was about the number of parents that were squished into the humid classroom, with the year eleven teachers seated at the front of the class and introduced one by one. My introduction was met with applause, waves and smiling faces, which was lovely and caused me to redden like a beet.
Following the introduction of the teachers, the principal spoke, followed by the acting VP, and then back and forth between the two for about 45 minutes, while they discussed what is going in year 11 up until now, and pertinent issues of which parents should be aware. Then, there was a Q&A period, where parents were able to ask questions of the teacher contingent. Following the Q&A, everyone stood up, sang the national anthem, and ended with a prayer. After the last 'Amen', the parents quickly filed out and left the room.
I kept waiting for the one-on-ones, but they never came. Also, aside from when I was introduced, the entire event was conducted in Xhosa. This is understandable given that this was the mother tongue of most of the parents, but goodness me I was lost. I could only interpret the general tone of what someone was saying based on their facial expressions and actions, but other than that, not a clue. An interpreter would have been nice, but I suppose there is always next time for that. Regardless, it was definitely a learning experience, particularly the concluding of the evening with a prayer.
Imagine such a thing taking place in a public school in Toronto? Interesting how something that is part of culture of this school…township…in this democratic country, would likely provoke public outcry in a city like my hometown.