My Fantasy Speech at the Imaginary Parent Conference I have in my head

Parent conferences are a part of being a teacher. As a teacher, I am stern and strict. I have anxiety, and specific procedures for student movement in the classroom are essential for maintaining my sanity. If I have a panic attack in class, I am not an effective teacher. Great fodder for a surreptitious YouTube video, maybe, but not effective.

Once discipline is established, I feel comfortable and have a great time with my students. As soon as they become accustomed to my sense of humor, we have a lot of laughs. Sometimes, parents object to what they see as my authoritarian practices or misinterpret my tone, and they ask for meetings.

I like to imagine myself as confident and fearless as Colonel Nathan Jessup in A Few Good Men.

Here is a transcript of my fantasy meeting with imaginary parents.

Sir, we live in a world with ignorance and that ignorance needs to be guarded against by teachers with rules. Who’s going to do it? You? You, [angry parent’s openly embarrassed spouse]?

I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for last year’s English teacher and you curse my long list of classroom supplies. You have that luxury. You don’t know what I know. That the first time I call in a substitute, the students are going to take the caps off every glue stick on that cart. Those ballpoint pens? Spitball canons. My requirements, while grotesque (something we’ll study in our American Gothic unit) and incomprehensible to you, save minds.

You can’t handle the truth about public education because deep down in places you don’t talk about on the sidelines of soccer practice, you want me in that classroom. You need me in that classroom.

I use words like rigor, obedience, consequences. I use these words as the backbone of a classroom management program built to maximize class learning, minimize disruptions, and keep myself sane. You use them as accusation.

You may think I sound defensive, but I’m just astonished that I have to take the time to explain myself to a person who sees his children thrive in the environment I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said, “Thank you,” and gave me a Starbucks card.

I run my classroom the way I run my classroom. You want to come at me, roll the dice and take your chances. I eat lunch 100 feet away from 1800 adolescents trained to ignore me. So don’t think you can come in here, flash a sour face, and make me nervous.

Now, say “my taxes pay your salary,” and I will order a Code Red.


About Mrs Odie

Friendly Pedant; Humble Genius
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12 Responses to My Fantasy Speech at the Imaginary Parent Conference I have in my head

  1. Taxes determine how much we make. They do not guarantee the payer any say in how the classroom is run.

  2. Chelsea says:

    Did your parents ever request a conference with a teacher? I know mine didn’t. I fear that we have raised a generation of kids who are completely unable to stand up for themselves because they are constantly being defended by their helicopter parents.

    • Mrs Odie 2 says:

      No, Chelsea. And in fact, my 5th grade teacher in another state was extremely stern. I think I remember seeing her laugh once and staring in shock. My mom complained, but my dad told her, “You’ll just embarrass our kid. She’s fine. She can take care of herself.” He was right. My traumatic memories are all from how my mom handled it, not from how the teacher treated me. She even told me I was a brilliant writer, encouraged me to write a feature for the school paper, and entered my short story in a contest which I won.

  3. Mrs Odie 2 says:

    But she was never nice to me. Never gave me one smile. Nevertheless, I still remember that she told me I was talented and that stuck with me. Her praise meant so much more because she was not one of those huggy-lovey teachers who praise everyone. I felt like it was genuine. Now, I also had a very sweet, huggy-lovey 6th grade teacher before I moved to California who was also a wonderful teacher. Teachers can have different personalities and styles, and one of those styles can be stern and sardonic if that’s who the person is.

  4. Lillian says:

    Awesome post. Both my parents are teachers… my step-father is very authoritarian and I’ve seen it work both for and against him, but mostly for him in the long run. I hope to be a teacher someday after my baby is old enough for me to be away from her for longer than 5 mins!!!

  5. Rosemary S says:

    My grandson is only 10 months old – but, when he reaches high-school, I hope he has at least one teacher just like you!………Keep up the good work!

  6. Caren Jew says:

    Will you be my kids’ teacher?

  7. Melanhead says:

    Having performed in this play not too long ago (and putting Demi Moore to shame, let me tell you), and being well acquainted with this monologue of Jessup’s, I give you a standing ovation, sir. Bravo, bravo!

  8. AP Ms. V says:

    This needs to be published and circulated surreptitiously to every parent out there. You are brilliant, my friend!

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