Would You Like Fries With That? (Teaching the next generation of astronauts and fast food workers)

“Sorry we were late guys, Jimmy had a case of the trotts!”

I didn’t know trotts was a proper word until I looked it up on the Urban Dictionary.  However, it was probably the best opening line in a parent/teacher conference in the history of the uncivilized teaching world.

Tomorrow at the Thanksgiving dinner table, I will be asked, “What are you thankful for”?  My response?  “Never holding another teacher conference!”

In my previous life, I was a middle school teacher.  I taught drama, English (so to speak), geography, physical education, reading and ran our school’s daily news program. I wasn’t really good at any of them. With a great deal of help from other teachers, I managed to stay motivated right up until that last conference before our Thanksgiving Break.  In addition to teaching, we were forced to hold several long days of “student-led” parent/teacher conferences.  That’s where the future careers for our students were often revealed.  Would it be working for NASA?  The White House?!

Here are my top five parent teacher conference memories. (Note, these are all real events and quotes, though the names have been changed to protect the now 20-something students):

Memory #5

Teacher:  “Your son has seventeen missing assignments which is why he is failing this class.”

Parent:  “It’s ok.  He is going to make it in the NBA, so this school stuff doesn’t really matter.”

Where is the student now?   This 5’9” student was last seen working as a Walmart Greeter.  (Not that there is anything wrong with that.)

Memory #4

Teacher:  “Your son is struggling in my science class.”

Parent:  “That’s crazy!  He is going to be an astronaut.  I don’t understand.”

Where is the student now? Last seen working at Wendy’s.

Memory #3

(I must clarify this teacher wasn’t me, and I shutter to think that any adult would put a child in the position to have to answer this ridiculous question.)

Teacher:  “Who’s the Man? … Who’s the Man?” The student looked away in embarrassment as the teachers and his parents were witness to this socially awkward moment.  However, the teacher didn’t relent.

Teacher:  “Thomas, look at me.  Who IS the man?”

Shy Student:  (In a quiet voice and agonizing embarrassment) “ . . . . I’m the man?”

Give me a stinking break!  When I heard news of this, I wanted to show this teacher, after embarrassing his student, who the man was.  His Birkenstocks would have been floating in the Spokane River that day.

Memory #2

Teacher: “Your child struggles with grammar and punctuation.”

Parent: (chuckling) “That’s not really a big deal.  He will be on the cover of a Wheaties Box one day.”  (Eluding that the child will be a future Olympian.)

Where is the student now?  Whereabouts unknown.  Keep your eyes on Sochi, Russia in 2014.   (I heard he’s working a concession stand at the next winter Olympics.)

Memory #1

Marine parent: “Honor and Code.  That’s what I teach my son.”

Teacher:  “I understand, but can’t reading and writing fit in between those lessons?”

I’ll spare you the parent’s response, but I’ll summarize by saying, “He couldn’t handle the truth.”1

Happy Thanksgiving to all you teachers!  You’ve earned it.

One thought on “Would You Like Fries With That? (Teaching the next generation of astronauts and fast food workers)

  1. I actually have no idea how I stumbled across your blog, Gannon. But It gave me quite the laugh. I am a former student of yours and I am so glad that I am kicking life’s butt and not working as a walmart greeter…

    Keep writing. It suits you.

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