Friday, July 19, 2013

Parent Teacher Conferences

When I was going through Elementary, Middle, and High School, I was the perfect angelic student that all parents dream of (pffft yeah right…) and Parent Teacher Conferences were not something that I dreaded.  Now that I’m on the opposite side of the conference in the role of the teacher, I was overwhelmed when I was first asked to write report cards and conduct Parent Teacher Conferences with my 75 students’ parents.  So two weeks before the event I began to gather my resources and come up with phrases that’d serve me well, such as:

His/her reading has improved.  Ua aloalo i luma lona faitautusi.
He/she is smart but talks all the time.  E poto tele, ae tautala so’o.
He/she needs to work on… E tatau ona galuega i…

This way I could write out the reports for the kids that not only included the grades for my midterm and homework reports, but also attempted at showing the parents what I thought of their children.  For the most part, the children were all exemplary but of course there are always a few that needed a few extra comments on my part regarding either behavior or alarming grades.

One of the report cards

Once the report cards were written out, all that remained was the daunting aspect of approximately 75 parents wanting to discuss their kids with me, in Samoan.  I was confident with my phrases but the thought of unknown questions coming at me in Samoan brought back the fear sweat that I had during my language exam during training.  So when the day came around, I had my stack of report cards on one side and my list of phrases and vocabulary on the other.  The line of parents quickly formed and the first woman sat down.

“Malo le soifua lau susuga” Very polite hello.

“Malo le soifua, o ai lou tamaiti?” Hello in return, who is your child?

And the exchange went on and on and remarkably, I was able to hold my own.  It’s a true marker of how far my Samoan has come that I was usually able to understand although I was not always able to form a response.  That parent looked through her son’s report card, his exam, signed the report card, thanked me, and left.  As simple as that, the first was over and done with and the next woman slid into place behind her.  Meeting with the parents, I was able to finally connect faces with the parents of the children that I teach every day.  Almost 2 hours later, the stream of parents was slowing down until finally my last one came and left.  Not quite all of the parents had made it but my goodness it was a huge chunk.  Afterwards, all of the teachers gathered for a celebratory lunch with food provided by the parents and chatted about the different things that had happened.

The next day, one of the students in Year 5, Ioane, came by with a gift for me.  His parents were particularly thankful for the teachers and sent him to school with a lavalava (wrap-around skirt) for me that read, “We love you Mum”.  I was so touched, I instantly pulled off the one that I was wearing and replaced it with his.  For the rest of the day, Ioane had the brightest smile on his face whenever he looked at me in his lavalava.

I’m so proud of the improvements in all of my students.  They all performed so well on their midterms in my class.  I had many students place first in their groups who had never placed in first before.  I even had one boy in my Year 6 At-Risk class who broke down into tears upon seeing his first place score on my grade wall.  This is the reason I joined the Peace Corps: to see improvements in the learning of the children and to affect their lives in a constant, positive way.  Ou te alofa lo’u tamaiti aoga!  Malo lava outou!!

My wall of exam scores

Faitala, my #1 student in Year 4 At-Risk Group

Orion, my #1 student in Year 6 At-Risk Group


  1. oh my goodness. This is awesome! You are awesome. So cool you are doing something that is making such a huge difference for these children. LOVE LOVE

  2. Fa'amalo lava le galue aua se lumanai manuia a le tupulaga a Samoa.

    Thank you for the awesome work you are doing. Alofa from a NZ Samoan!