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7 Awkward Problems Teachers Face Trying to Do Parent Meetings Online


7 Awkward Problems Teachers Face Trying to Do Parent Meetings Online

There aren’t a lot of teachers who enjoy holding parent-teacher meetings. If we request them, it’s usually because the child in question is misbehaving or not doing what they’re supposed to be doing. If a parent is requesting one it’s usually to yell at us. But now through the wonders of technology, that pain and suffering can be delivered to us directly to our laptops via Zoom no matter where we are or what time of day it is. And I think most teachers will agree that online PTMs are the poop frosting on this dumpster fire cake of a school year.

Our favorite part, of course, is how convenient this is for parents, making these changes likely to be permanent. Great! These meetings are likely here to stay, and, with them, their numerous inconveniences for teachers.

Here’s the thing, online PTMs are a disaster, and they’re probably here to stay.

1. When parents try to schedule PTMs at ridiculous hours of the day.

One of the biggest problems with parent-teacher conferences was scheduling the darn things. It can be a lot to ask a working parent to reschedule their entire day to make a trip into school to sit with a teacher. Zoom definitely fixed that problem. Now conferences can happen anytime, anywhere and for any reason. And while this is a blessing, there’s a lot of devil hiding in these details.

2. When parents hijack our Zoom classes instead of scheduling a PTM.

Having access to technology is great, but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Some parents see their child Zooming with a teacher and feel the need to interject their thoughts and opinions right on the spot. Who cares if you’re trying to hold the attention of 30 other children? This parent has something “important” to say and dang it they are going to get the answers they want – right now.

3. When parents join an online PTM while cruising down the highway at 80 MPH

This has terrible idea written all over it, and yet we’ve all witnessed it. Parents who log into our little Zoom meeting while driving. Yikes! Doing anything while driving is pretty much the worst idea ever, but trying to participate in a VIDEO conference while driving? Absolute disaster!Parents really shouldn’t be getting the news that little Timmy has been kicked out of class 4 times this week while they’re battling rush hour traffic on the interstate.

4. Parents taking PTMs where, um, no PTMs have ever gone before.

For every parent that thinks it’s OK to be on Zoom in a public place with lots of noise, there’s another parent who thinks it’s also OK to Zoom in the most private and personal of areas. I don’t care how you’re holding that phone, I know you’re in the bathroom. I can hear everything that’s going on in there and it’s really hard to discuss test scores over the sound of a toilet flushing… twice.

5. Parents who never learned to practice volume control.

A year ago at this time, teachers were relative newbies in the world of Zoom-ing. We left ourselves on mute while trying to talk, it took us forever to share our screens, and we took lovely video angles of the tops of our heads. Now we’re all seasoned pros and Zoom masters. Parents, however, aren’t necessarily as caught up as we are, which leads to a whole host of problems. Some parents spend the entire meeting screaming into their phone. Others are so quiet you wonder if they think their phone can read their thoughts.

6. When parents decide a PTM is the perfect time to go on a very strenuous walk all over the neighborhood

Going for a brisk walk or light jog every day is a wonderful exercise. It burns calories, it’s low impact and it’s easy to do. Unfortunately, if you’re on a Zoom call while walking, it makes everyone watching you extremely nauseous. Some parents just can’t sit still for an entire PTM (oh wait, maybe THAT’S where their kid gets it from!) so the minute they log on their screen is shaking so much you’d think Michael Bay was directing the meeting.

7. Parents mishearing what you say because technology… never… cooperates.

Another benefit of an in-person parent-teacher conference is that no technology is required to have one. Good ol’ face-to-face communication always works, never disconnects and doesn’t need to buffer. Once computers get involved, all hell is bound to break loose the minute that connection is made. Dropped calls, frozen screens and glitches can lead to more than a few crossed wires.

For instance you could say:

“I would hate to not see your child be successful in my class.”

But if the internet gods are against you, a parent could hear this:

“I…… hate….. your child….. in my class.”

Yeesh!

Come connect with other educators in our #TeacherLife group!

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7 Awkward Problems Teachers Face Trying to Do Parent Meetings Online

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David Rode

Dave is a middle school math teacher. He's also a musician, a community theater, dad to two amazing children, and he doesn't get a lot of sleep.

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