I Will Get Some Quality Time to Concentrate on Shane.

For our last exploratory college road trip, Dylan and I are hitting the road for four days – again causing me to feel bad about leaving Shane.

This time, it’s because we are leaving in the midst of the annual parent-teacher conferences. Once a year, the public schools offer parents a chance to meet with each teacher – and this takes place at the conclusion of two student half-days.

Unfortunately, the half-days make it a very convenient time to take Dylan on the road. And it is the very last time that parent-teacher conferences will be offered for Shane. In high school, there are no more conferences.

Perhaps even more unfortunately, none of this is done online. The scheduling is all done early in the morning on those two half-days, with parents pouring through the doors by 7 a.m. – and all day long – each trying to find a ten-minute time slot for seven different teachers. It’s all done with paper and pencil (“NO PENS!” I heard once, because of all the erasing that’s done during this process).

And it’s all overseen by one poor administrative secretary trying to monitor the schedules of 62 teachers (not including special education, deaf or autism teachers) and trying to help new parents figure out the system and find seven open time slots.

I am not a new parent. I know the system.

Over the years, I have become adept at arriving before school starts, complete with my son’s prioritized list of teachers, ready for fast scheduling. I grab the math book first, to make sure I am able to meet with the math teacher, since math teachers are notoriously challenging to schedule. Then I find the other essential teachers: English, science, social studies. I move on to the electives last, since they are slower to fill up.

I’ve learned what times the conferences are offered (well into evening) and that teachers are happier to meet early in the day – when they’re not exhausted from talking to all the parents.I’ve learned where the classrooms are, and which ones are too far away for me to schedule in a back-to-back time slot. In fact, I have finally learned how to schedule all of Shane’s teachers into a single two-hour time frame.

Last year, after playing this game for five years, I was able to meet with every, single teacher in an hour and twenty minutes. More casual parents have been known to take two days to meet with teachers, and still miss meeting with three or four of them.

This year, though, I am missing it entirely. Now that I am a veteran scheduler, I will not be able to utilize one of my predominant skills.

Fortunately, I have already remedied the situation.

Even though the conferences are a month away, I have already emailed all of Shane’s teachers. I explained my dilemma and asked if I could still meet with each of them, for just a few minutes, to check on Shane’s progress this year.

Now – without ever leaving home or picking up a pencil – I have my own, personal parent-teacher conferences scheduled with each of Shane’s teachers. Best of all, these personalized conferences fit into my schedule and their schedules, so no one is displaced. And I will get some quality time to concentrate on Shane after all.

And I think we will all be glad when I am not there early on the morning of the first half-day, grabbing for a pencil.

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