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Parent-teacher nights: Like speed dating, but less fun

 How do you feel about parent-teacher night? If your child recently moved from elementary to middle school, you're in for a change. Gone are the days of the intimate parent-teacher conference, when you met one teacher who knew everything about your child.Middle and high school parent-teacher nights are more like speed dating, as this Associated Press story explains. Parents scramble to meet
What's your strategy for parent-teacher night?
What's your strategy for parent-teacher night?Denis Poroy / AP

 How do you feel about parent-teacher night? If your child recently moved from elementary to middle school, you're in for a change. Gone are the days of the intimate parent-teacher conference, when you met one teacher who knew everything about your child.

Middle and high school parent-teacher nights are more like speed dating, as this Associated Press story explains. Parents scramble to meet with a half-dozen teachers, each of whom may have up to 200 other students.  Writer Beth Harpaz interviewed one parent who describes the ritual as a “horse race” and shares her strategies, such as identifying where her kid is struggling the most and visiting those teachers first, and having a prepared list of questions ready.

One expert says, "Do not go in with an attitude. Be open-minded. The teacher needs to feel that you are part of the solution." Another suggests what to say: “May I follow up with you via email in four weeks to check on his progress?” And, more importantly, what NOT to say: “He says your class is so boring he can’t stand to come to it. How can you expect him to pay attention?" (We are guessing that’s not going to help your kid. At all.)

Some schools suggest you skip teacher meetings if your child is getting As. Then again, Harpaz points out, why not treat yourself to a little good news?

At my daughter’s 6th grade open house, I lingered after the 5-minute presentation to talk to the art teacher my child had been raving about.  I told her how much my daughter was enjoying her class. She waxed on for a few minutes about how great my daughter was and then shared an anecdote about my child telling her a funny joke. 

Considering my shy tween would rather poke needles in her eye than initiate a conversation with an adult, I knew the teacher was talking about a different student. (I honestly don’t blame her for not knowing. She must see more than 200 kids each day.)  My child eventually got an A in her class, so hopefully the teacher now knows who she is.

Do you have any parent-teacher conference nightmare stories? Or any tips on how to survive? Share in the comments!