Should curriculum nights last two to three hours?

I was surprised to find out that my middle schooler’s curriculum night would last two hours. You have time with each teacher, and you rotate to each class just as your child does. I appreciate that you get to meet and hear from each teacher, and you also get more insight into what it’s like for your tween/teen to navigate the school. (They joked they were giving the parents one extra minute to get to class.) I understand that you are meeting with each teacher but that seems like a really long time.

The elementary school curriculum night usually lasts about 30 minutes for each grade.

Our sometimes fill-in host Keith says her school has three-hour curriculum nights. She has one in high school now and one in middle school, and she says both are scheduled for three hours! So she’ll spend six hours this week in curriculum meetings

She says she doesn’t mind that it last that long because often that is the only time you get to hear from the teachers, and it is valuable information for the entire year.

What do you think: is there a better, more efficient way for teachers to communicate curriculum for middle and high school students? Is it just necessary and worth your time investment? How long is your curriculum night? Do you think most parents go or skip out? Have you ever regretted skipping it?

47 comments Add your comment

Beck

August 24th, 2012
5:46 am

It’s not just a long night for parents. Teachers are staying after a full day of school and will have to be right back at it the next morning. It is really really the only way to accomplish it though once kids start changing classes.

Please don’t try to conference privately. Set up a separate time for that if you need to.

motherjanegoose

August 24th, 2012
6:43 am

Yes we did the rotating class routine at curriculum night in MS and HS. It was interesting to see who was there. Several of my kids friend’s parents were there. I was pleased to see them.

I always appreciated parents who would make time to come to any parent teacher meeting.To me, it spoke volumes about the parents. I know things can unexpectedly come up and typically got a heads up from involved parents beforehand.

YES it is a long day for the teachers. In HS here, they have been there since before 7:00 a.m. We typically finish around 9:00 and they have to be back in the morning. LONG DAY.
We have attended each and every curriculum night…typically both of us but at least one of us. When ours were Seniors in HS, the parent crowd was thin. We even went to the 1/2 study hour period as we had nothing else to do ( it was in the middle of the rotation) . The teacher laughed when we showed up but we had a good chat and she thanked us.

If I had a concern, I would print it on a neon paper ( so it would not get lost in the paper pile) and hand it to the teacher with my e-mail, ,”here is a question I have, when you get a chance can you respond via e-mail…thanks?”

A BIG thanks to all teachers out there…you are appreciated!

motherjanegoose

August 24th, 2012
6:46 am

FYI 1/2 hour study was implemented with my daughter to deal with staggered lunch and so many students ( almost 3000). They did not really use it for a study period but it was the other half of the lunch routine. This is when the moved the start time 30 minutes earlier. Our son did not have the same schedule.

Anothermom

August 24th, 2012
7:58 am

In junior and high school, curriculum or class rotation night is the only chance you get to meet your child’s teachers. After elementary school, there are no more meet the teacher days before school starts. Unlike elementary school, where parents can volunteer to cut and paste, organize class parties and chaperone field trips, parents have no other opportunity to get to know the teacher. In a 10 minute class rotation schedule, the teachers can barely cover the curriculum. The benefit as a parent is that you can put a face with a name and have a first impression. You can usually figure out which teachers your child will love, which ones are coasting to retirement, and which ones you hope your other children don’t get assigned. You also obtain an appreciation for your child’s schedule as you have to find their classrooms all over the building. Wear your running shoes. Except for maybe the senior parents, class rotation nights are a “don’t miss” event at my kids’ schools.

FCM

August 24th, 2012
8:24 am

Including the stupid PTA meeting both last 1.5 hours (ES & MS).

I would have liked more time in the MS with the teachers we got less than 5 min with the teacher, most of the time was in the hall trying to navigate.

TWG….if you did not get to rotate to all the teachers you would have been blogging about how that was not right you wanted to meet them all! LOL

SchoolMarm

August 24th, 2012
8:29 am

Why don’t they post it on-line????? Just like every thing else….my college aged child has access to the entire college on line….so why not this mess?

We quit going to these “functions” when the kid was in middle school. Plus you are FORCED to start off with a PTA meeting, and review the budget….before anything else gets discussed. Talk about hook, line & Sinker…..

jarvis

August 24th, 2012
8:44 am

All this time I thought Keith was a dude.

A

August 24th, 2012
9:10 am

Our Fulton elementary is a half hour for TAG curriculum and then 1 hour in the regular classroom, which I think is fine. After this, we won’t meet the teacher(s) until conferences in October and after that there’s not a lot of face-to-face contact in the upper grades for the rest of the year. I am glad that many teachers have joined the 21st century and are on email. For many of us (and them, I hope), it’s the most efficient way to keep in touch about our students.

Techmom

August 24th, 2012
9:36 am

I actually skipped curriculum night this year for my son who is a senior and felt bad. I had to fill in for the Scoutmaster at the Troop meeting and didn’t realize when I offered it was the same night as curriculum night. Much to the dismay of my son, I realized my scheduling error prior to open house so I went with him to that and I did go meet each of his teachers that he hasn’t had previously.

Our curriculum night is usually about an hour and a half. Each period only lasts for 10 minutes which is not enough time for the classes with new teachers and new material but far too long to listen to the band teacher drone on about the same exact thing we’ve heard for the past 5 years. But it definitely feels rushed.

Our neighbor’s son started at the local high school this year and they did a separate 9th grade curriculum night so they could spend extra time up front with the parents giving them more details about HS.My neighbor said she felt much better after that night as there had been some issues already in the first week and a half of school.

pws

August 24th, 2012
9:48 am

Like MJG, I don’t have to attend these anymore. But when mine were in school, I did go to all of them, and I agree that some of the meeting is a waste of time. By the time my youngest was in high school, I had learned that I could go about 30 minutes late, and miss the PTA spill, and just go to the visting of the classroom part and meet the teachers. As someone else stated, it’s good to put a face with a name, but that’s about all you get from this meeting, as they put more emphasis on the PTA part than anything else. Some of us parents who had been doing this for a while used to stand outside at the end of the PTA session and quote line for line what was going to be said next!

pws

August 24th, 2012
9:50 am

Off subject, but Teresa, you need to still volunteer when you have the opportunity to do things at the middle school. Also, volunteer to be the driver for a group of them when they are going to a party, or other social function. Some of my best memories are driving a van load of middle school girls somewhere, and after about 5 minutes they will forget you are there and you will learn all kinds of things from them if you just keep quiet and listen! lol

motherjanegoose

August 24th, 2012
9:52 am

@ A…I am not big on technology, as many here know. It is very handy buy I am certainly not big on it being the ONLY communication between teachers and parents. I communicate with potential clients all the time via e-mail but there is something to be said about SEEING another person and reading their body language. Maybe it is just me. When I had met my student’s parents, I often said, “The apple does not fall far from the tree!” I know teachers probably said that about me too, since mine talked quite a bit as I do…haha!

Funny story, my daughter was to write a song in elementary school for her music class. I was working on a new song that week and, as I often do, sing it at home to work out the kinks. She submitted my song for her project. Her teacher sent it home, in the folder, with all sorts of praise as it was quite clever for someone her age. We then all talked about plagiarism.

DB

August 24th, 2012
12:32 pm

Our curriculum nights were about two hours — a meeting of about 45 min to an hour beforehand, which allowed the headmaster, the principal, the development manager, the PTA president, the booster club president and the arts alliance president to give spiels. Then we went from class to class, about 10 minutes in each class. We got a copy of the syllabus, the teachers introduced themselves and answered questions, gave us their contact information (including cell phones for many of them), and then we moved to the next one.

Let’s face it — in middle school and high school, the responsibility shifts more completely to the student to manage their work. Exactly what do parents NEED to know?

Wait until you have two in middle school . . . then Michael will be coming along to catch one student’s schedule, and you’ll be doing the other’s! Fun, fun!

SchoolMarm

August 24th, 2012
12:35 pm

MotherJane Goose – do you ever get tired of patting your own back?

motherjanegoose

August 24th, 2012
1:13 pm

Nope…I sometimes get tired of people fussing at me on here and not sharing anything related to the topic. Seems some folks only know how to criticize and not contribute.

The point of the story was that I had met the teacher and since we knew each other, I felt it was important to mention that the song was not my daughter’s but mine. We still chuckle about it.

Have a nice weekend all! TWG thanks for running my idea yesterday…I enjoyed reading the comments.

SchoolMarm

August 24th, 2012
1:31 pm

Never. It’s called Freedom of Speech!!!!

Maybe MJG should be banned. or limited to one paragraph ON TOPIC.

FCM

August 24th, 2012
1:58 pm

“The point of the story was that I had met the teacher and since we knew each other, I felt it was important to mention that the song was not my daughter’s but mine.” MJG you ratted her out to her teacher?
Did the teacher lower her grade?

motherjanegoose

August 24th, 2012
2:18 pm

YES FCM…I did and yes her grade was not one she liked but did deserve. We spent a few days together in TN earlier this month, before she started back to college, and we discussed that situation and laughed together.

SchoolMarm

August 24th, 2012
2:20 pm

She needed the affirmation. She felt it was “IMPORTANT for the teacher to know” SHE wrote the song….not her daughter. If her daughter got credit, how can she pat herself on the back and brag about it?

You can tell who the "new" bloggers are...

August 24th, 2012
2:27 pm

…they are the ones who castigate motherjane, just as I did when I got on here many years ago. But, ladies and germs, give it a rest – she is quite knowledgeable, and yes, her “style” does take getting used to, so she is really OK, just wordy – but we love you mamajane.

And those who cannot deal with it, remember, as many have said often, no one is requiring that you read her musings – so get over yourselves, and carry on…

catlady

August 24th, 2012
3:09 pm

Thank you,”You can tell.” MJG has a wealth of experience in raising children and in teaching other people’s children. You won’t get a more down to earth entry. Some of you may not appreciate her contributions, but just go on and scroll down. You will miss something, but you would likely miss it anyway.

oneofeach4me

August 24th, 2012
3:42 pm

My daughter is entering the 6th grade, and hers lasted an hour and a half. There was a half hour of the principal, PTO, and Arts department heads giving info, then we followed the kids schedule with about 10 minutes in each class. I actually was glad I went, even to the assembly at the beginning because I learned some things I didn’t know about. Now I will say from now on, I will probably skip the assembly at the beginning, as someone else mentioned, and just show up to do the class carousel. I do think it’s important as the parent though to know who the teachers are and what they expect from your kids, and how you can find things like posted homework assignments. Because I will be the first to tell you, my daughter will sure make it seem as though she has nothing to do, when in fact she does. I keep trying to tell her this isn’t elementary school anymore, so they aren’t going to baby her. I think she is JUST figuring this out!! And I still make her responsible for it all, I just go behind and double check her.

my time is too precious

August 24th, 2012
3:45 pm

This is the most useless blog in the AJC. Helicopter parents and others needing to praise themselves or their lunch partners.
I have not seen a whole lot that really helps the kids or their parents. Please tell me what I have been missing?

So,"too precious" time...

August 24th, 2012
3:58 pm

…why are you reading if the blog is wasting your time? Think about it, before you write and embarrass yourself…

FCM

August 24th, 2012
3:58 pm

@ MJG good for you! And good for the teacher! I bet your daughter learned a HUGE lesson from that. I only asked b/c when I rat out my child my friends try telling me I am not being a good parent. I think letting them get by with things (like what your daughter) teaches them something I don’t want them to learn.

FCM

August 24th, 2012
4:01 pm

@ oneofeach4me wait until she finds out you know her grades before she does (thank you Pinnacle!!). It was invaluable to me last year.

Stacey

August 24th, 2012
4:09 pm

I found out my son’s middle school doesn’t having curriculum night which disappoints me because I like meeting his teachers face to face to try to get a “feel” for their personalities. He is in sixth grade this year (1st year of middle school) so everyone and everything is new to us. They had an open house a couple of days before school started but the wrong time was posted on the website causing a lot of parents (including me) to get there as the teachers were leaving. The principal and office staff were there and gave us a tour of the sixth grade hall and common areas of the school (gym, cafeteria, main office) but we didn’t meet a single teacher. Although I was disappointed, my son seemed fine with it and has adjusted very well. They are schedule for 1/2 day in September to allow for conferences but my understanding is they only schedule conference for at-risk students. I was told by the school that parents are welcome to schedule a conference with any teacher, at any time but that it will be close to impossible to schedule to see all of his teachers at the same time, even if it’s on early release day.

oneofeach4me

August 24th, 2012
4:19 pm

@FCM ~ Oh I know! She already was like what are you doing with my agenda? Why are you going to the school website? So when I showed her that I was checking to make sure that the homework she wrote in her agenda is the same homework the teacher posted, she had to pick her mouth up off the floor! lol I am looking froward to Pinnacle too. It will be nice to be able to keep up with them that way if she starts slipping, I can tell before it takes too much effort to get back up there!

Tiffany

August 24th, 2012
5:54 pm

I have three kids and am proud to say that I have never missed a curriculum night. When the kids are older, in middle and high school, it is even more important to know the teachers and stay involved in the school. I think it is the kids who have parents who never show up for these types of meetings that have the most problems. You show your kids that you care about them and their education when you attend as many of their school functions as possible.

The Dixie Diarist

August 24th, 2012
6:51 pm

Of the millions of curriculum nights there’s one that I’ll remember forever and they were all pretty dang memorable. In the 3rd period session for a class where I had six kids, six parents came in, and without prompting, sat in exactly the seat where their child sits. There were twelve desks in The Cozy Room of Learning. I stood there, dumfounded. I finally told them what just happened. I had to. They were as amazed at me. A couple of the parents, however, were visibly unnerved by it. They looked at the desk they were sitting in, and then lifted their hands up off of the desktop, as if it was covered with germs.

all the time

August 24th, 2012
10:10 pm

The thing I hate about curriulum nights is the crowding – often both parents attend so the rooms and halls are crowded, HVAC is turned off and it gets stuffy and the parking is horrible. What I don’t understand is why the entire school has this at the same time? Sorry school staff – couldn’t this be split into two nights – by grade level – to reduce the crowding?

hsn

August 25th, 2012
7:51 am

I like to read this blog, then read what MJG has to say. She seems to be a voice of reason in a world of messed up parents. If you can’t say anything nice, please don’t say anything at all.

TeacherMom

August 25th, 2012
8:07 am

At my son’s elementary school they do split it up in to two nights-k-2 on one and 3-5 on another, but it’s still crowded. (although they do have the AC on!) In order to park on school grounds you need to arrive at least 30 min early. For my role as a high school teacher, I’m glad it’s not split. I teach mixed classes and would have multiple late nights in one week. That’s not good when I get up at 4:30 on work days!

Kat

August 25th, 2012
10:14 am

Don’t think that it is only parents who are checking out the teachers and looking for these ways to “get a feel” for how the new teachers are. As a parent, your attendance, demeanor, interest (or lack thereof) is what the teachers are looking for.

It’s a two-way street!

DB

August 25th, 2012
10:40 am

@SchoolMarm: if you are going to fuss at someone for being off-topic, then include EVERYONE on this blog, because we have all wandered off the reservation at some point. It’s a blog, not a syllabus ;-)

@FCM: I can’t believe that your friends thought you were ratting out your child. Are these the same friends who want more access to their school, etc? One time my son failed to do a book report, even after several gentle reminders. I called ahead to his teacher, told her what had happened, and told her I would back her up on whatever discipline she felt appropriate. He was NOT amused at missing a week of recess to do his report!

I can see the value of things like Pinnacle, but I have a feeling that for many parents, it just extends the umbilacle cord and shifts responsibility away from the child for organizing their own work. Homework is the child’s responsibility. The parent’s job is to make sure the child has the tools and the time to do their own homework, and to enforce consequences if grades do not meet reasonable expectations. I think that if I had been a kid and my mom knew my grades before I did, I’d start developing a slight case of paranoia! And it negates the excitement a child has of sharing a great grade with their parents.

Beck

August 25th, 2012
11:21 am

The Dixie Diarist – I never cease to be amused and amazed by the number of parents who quite unknowingly make a beeline to their student’s desk each year. It’s always about 1/2 and totally unnerving at first.

As for those parents who condemned other parents for their honesty in telling their child’s teacher about academic dishonesty, THAT is what’s going wrong with society.

The Dixie Diarist

August 25th, 2012
12:52 pm

Thanks, Beck. It’s a freaky phenomenon, ain’t it. Anyhow, I find some parents just as fascinating as their kids!

The parents who complain about homework were the parents doing the homework. Sometimes I give out homework just to see the sneaky ways parents who do their kid’s homework would try to make it look like their child did the homework. Other teachers do the same thing and it gives us even more fun things to laugh and cry about.

One time I had a mother say to me about her son … Well, good luck with him, she said, because he’s one straaaaange little guy. He really was one strange little guy, so I wasn’t shocked at all when she muttered those words to me. But, mom, right in front of him?

http://www.adixiediary.com

FCM

August 25th, 2012
3:08 pm

@Stacey – you CAN get all his teachers at one time if you really want too. Go through the guidence counselor, copy the assistant principal if you need too…ask nicely, agree to be flexible when you meet. If that doesn’t work you copy the principal and you make phone calls. If you really feel you need to meet them all it can happen. Remind them that home and school are a team.

@oneofeach…oh yeah! I have a list of homework before I get home. I say ok what are we working on? I have nothing MOM! Good that means we have extra time to go over the Middle East map for the quiz Wednesday!! Yay us! Also, you would think that Pinnacle will help before it is too late, but that depends on the teacher. We had one last year who would post 5 to 6 grades at a time…usually several weeks after a big project was due. So I learned that my child had a 43 in a class with like 4 weeks left of school….she did in fact get that up above passing (all the way to a B!!!!!) but it would have been nice to have known a project was not in (she left her name off) closer to when it could have been turned in with less points taken off than were when I learned about it 3 weeks after it was due. 6th grade was a learning lesson for me as well her….and a big time of adjustment. I wish you luck!

@Kat – I work in accounting. There are certain days I have to work late. Last year MS Open House was that day. I wrote a letter to each of my child’s teachers explaining why I was not in attendance. Did I feel guilty? Heck no, keeping food on the table and roof over our heads means a great deal to my kids. I go to other school events and I think just even knowing their work before I get in the door shows them school is important. If teachers are judging the parents who do not attend, remember there may be ligitmate reasons (including illness of another child) that keeps them from attending. Make sure you at least try to work with any parent that reaches out to you.

@DB…I think as a parent you want to support your child. I also think there are times (like the one you described) where supporting the child in becoming a resposible person is more important then the immediate reward (good grades). When the dog actually did eat my childs homework and there was no time left for her to redo it, I called in late to work and went to the school with the ripped paper in hand (ie good time to back my child). When my child steadfastly refused to do her homework one night I (like you) let the teacher know and she did have to sit out a recess or two to get it done. She now has most of it done before I pick her up in the afternoon. It is one of those fine lines of parenting.

The trick with Pinnacle, for me at least, is to not tell her I know her grade on test or project. However, it is important to know when the overall grade level drops or a potential drop is coming up. To know that hearing “oh all my science is done” but the grade is on tip point so extra science focus is necessary.

As to the homework being the child’s to keep up with, I would in general agree. I have an ADD and ADHD child. Dis-organization is a key characteristic of ADD/ADHD. Unfortunately I did not get the older one diagnosed until about 4th grade so we have had some other “built up” parts to address before tackling organization. She and I worked this summer on a plan. for the first few weeks while we get her into routine, I am triple checking her materials and making sure we have copies in case they get lost. The next 4 weeks will be her triple checking (with me there) that she has everything….this will continue until 2nd term..and we will go into a hands off approach around Christmas. Again Pinnacle will become important so that I know when to I do need to step back in and tweak her game plans. The objective is that by HS she will be organized and making good plans for herself…so she can earn dating and other things that will allow her to make choices without me. I can respect that not all parents agree, and that some children step to the plate of personal responsibilty faster than others. However she ended up in a DEEP hole last yea when I tried a total hands off approach. She got so far overhead she didn’t know how to climb out. I did step in to help her get on the right track, and I am proud that she did climb out (although it took a great toll on us both that term).

@Dixie and Beck….My child wanted to know in each class where I sat. She said I did not get a single seat right! I thought about it, I had gravitated to the seat I was most likely to have sat in when I was in school…close to the front in English, in the back corner near a door for math, etc. My daughter just completed a presentation for her class. It was not assigned, but since we had material on the subject I suggested she do one. Think she knows I tricked her into learning something about a subject she first told me was boring?

The only subject I never have to ask MS child to study is Orchestra. She plays that instrument every moment she gets.

Minus R N's

August 25th, 2012
7:21 pm

Curriculum night is to get an idea of what your child will be learning and the expectations for the students. School is for the kids not the parents….to many helicopter parents

Bernie

August 25th, 2012
9:55 pm

The children of Japan and India spend on average 10 hours a day studying. In the U.S. they are typically the Head of their class, smartest on in the room, the most sought after for the highest paying jobs to be found.

How well can your child say ” Do you want fries and a drink with that Happy Meal, Ma’am?”

Now I ask of you? what do you think?

lexi

August 26th, 2012
9:35 am

Folks with kids in public schools are getting their kids’ education subsidized at a deep discount. Seems unseemly to complain about investing 2-3 hours a term in their education. I suspect that if more parents got to know their childrens’ teachers better there would be far fewer discipline problems in schools, and, correspondingly, more learning.

John

August 26th, 2012
1:58 pm

Mother Jane Goose-Did you not read the introductory column or understand the question for discussion? Or are you just so self-satisfied you thought we’d all be interested in your off-topic blather?

babs

August 26th, 2012
3:40 pm

Re: BK you are the ideal parent.
If families work with the teachers, we can help the children learn the significance of school, of deadlines, of how parents value what school does. Yeah for you. The concept of “ratting out” is exactly the concept that is leading to the decline of the morals of our society.

from a teacher, of course
(and a mother of two fine and now grown children)

Kat

August 26th, 2012
6:52 pm

Sounds like someone (emphasis on one) seems to have misinterpreted my comment. I was simply saying that the teacher(s) are not going through a “job interview” with the parents, more of a “let’s see what this person is like…”

As for the only person who didn’t seem to understand my generality of “two-way street,” I will explain it. If you show no interest, you will get little back many times. This is not a threat (I’m not even a teacher), but a simple idea. Parents and educators work together. Now, if you called the teacher or explained that you couldn’t be there but would like more information, or you foolishly overlapped something else because calendars had not yet been invented, then yes you are excused.

BTW: I also appreciate MJG’s comments. If we always agreed, how boring it would be.

The Dixie Diarist

August 26th, 2012
6:58 pm

For Bernie, knowing what you mean, brother …

On a lot of mornings this summer, because it’s a scary place in the middle of the night, I’ve eaten a few breakfast meals at the Waffle House near where I live. During the summer, teachers can sleep late and eat breakfast with the late lunch crowd.

The Waffle House near where I live is a place that offers to the social observer a bunch of what you call local flavor. The Waffle House is right next to a highway, so it also offers a lot of state, regional, and national flavor. I would say that from time to time the restaurant offers some international flavor, too, and the expressions on the faces of the international flavor families when they walk in prove to me that there are no restaurants like Waffle Houses on the foreign continent on which they live. Japanese families love to point at the picture of what they want on the menu and I believe they’re fascinated that when the plate of food is plunked in front of them it looks just like what they pointed at. When this particular cultural occasion was unfolding, some older local flavor behind me said them people sure do jibber-jabber. His dining companion, who was rooting around in her purse for some tip change, and who already had the post grits-and-bacon parking lot cigarette between her lips, said in her awesome trailer park accent … that their children always beat us on them tests.

http://www.adixiediary.com

Warrior Woman

August 26th, 2012
8:00 pm

@oneofeach4me and FCM – Just be aware that Pinnacle only helps if teachers grade and post grades in a timely fashion!

Atlanta Mom

August 26th, 2012
8:08 pm

Two hours never seemed like enough to me. With time for changing classrooms, and, just like in a classroom during the day, it would take at least 5 minutes for everyone to settle down before the teacher could commence to begin to share whatever he/she had on her mind.
It’s only once a year. And generally that was the only time I saw my children’s teachers. I volunteered through the pta, but by middle school, neither my children, nor their teachers wanted me in the classroom.