I had parent-teacher conferences on Saturday. I have been kind of nervous about them the week before. I’ve been dreading this day since the first day of work back in August, because I’ve heard some horror stories about the kind of parents who send their kids to expensive English schools.

Out of 16 students, I only had four out of the six students’ parents signed up to actually show up. Two out of those four were my best students so those meetings were a breeze. The other two I’ve had problems with such as too-much-daydreaming or not-trying-hard-enough, and those were problems that the parents were already well aware of so not too much blame was put upon me. Although, they would like for me to be meaner to their kids as well as punish them if necessary.

I had a Chinese teacher for translation, and I pretended I didn’t speak or understand Chinese throughout the meetings. It was completely unnecessary but I felt like I would lose a bit of my credibility if I showed that I knew Chinese, and my boss told me that the meetings would go on so much longer because then they would have lots of questions. Sometimes I would slip up and nod along as if I understood, and then I would catch myself and would look to the Chinese teacher for translation.

I feel like the mindset here is very much that the teachers are mainly responsible for the students, although disciplining them and such should be something done at home by the parents. There’s a lot of expectations put on teachers, but there’s really not much I can do especially when I only see your kid three times a week, two hours at at time, along with seven other students.

I had another parent-teacher meeting today where I had told the mother that her son is a very good student but needs work in writing skills and more confidence in speaking. I suggested going to the library and reading more interesting books or just watching TV/movies in English. And then she said that her son does not like to do those things, and if there was anything I could do about it. Could I change her son’s personality and interests? Um, not so much. Then she asked if maybe I could assign more homework. I don’t give my 5th graders much homework because I know their Chinese homework load is overwhelming as it is. So could I work her son to death? Um, I don’t know if I feel inclined to do so.

I feel like it’s the parents’ responsibility to encourage their kids to watch/read more English stuff at home. There’s not much I can do except stimulate their interests at school and help them learn what they can. Or am I wrong?

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