Teacher conferences ruin routine

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Teacher conferences ruin routine

(JASMINE LUNAR/EYE OF THE TIGER)

(JASMINE LUNAR/EYE OF THE TIGER)

(JASMINE LUNAR/EYE OF THE TIGER)

(JASMINE LUNAR/EYE OF THE TIGER)

NICOLE KHUDYAKOV

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I believe that, just like an other student, my Monday morning routine consists of a ritual that is ingrained into my muscles to the point that I could do it while half-asleep — which is an event that occurs surprisingly frequently. I ignore my alarm and later roll sluggishly out of bed, miraculously get to school on time, and eventually find myself squinting up into harsh fluorescent lights while waiting for the familiar tenor of my teacher’s voice.

Unfortunately, the likelihood that that routine will one day be interrupted is growing at an alarming rate – and it’s bound to come sooner than I planned, as RHS teachers seem to be absent more and more frequently.

The reason behind these absences is an invitation to miss a few days of school in order to attend optional learning conferences taking place around California. The key word here is, of course, optional. Despite that, many choose to go, because these conferences serve as exciting events — they provide teachers with opportunities to expand their knowledge about learning techniques and integrate them into the classroom.

(Well, exciting in teacher terms.)

Though, even as a student, I can tell that there is a large number of things teachers would prefer to be doing over being trapped in stuffy rooms for hours on end filled with teenagers. There have been many instances where I’ve felt exactly the same way. So while I can’t quite blame teachers for taking their chance and bypassing ‘running with it’ to hop into the nearest taxi cab out of here, there still remains a number of issues with these conferences.

Of course, one expected result of these absences is the rate of students entering class and coming face to face with a substitute teacher. It’s only expected that, even with teachers rushing to stuff their bags and stock up on sunscreen before each conference, they’d leave their classrooms in the hands of substitutes. It’s also similarly expected that, no matter how many worksheets or group activities are tossed into the hands of the students, a substitute in place of the original always results in less work getting done. It’s a law as old as time itself — and to my knowledge, it’s never been broken.

While the teachers that choose to participate in these conferences may feel them worth the trip, the timing itself tends to be less than stellar for students. How are students expected to ask questions and learn if a teacher leaves a few days before a big test? No amount of prior warnings or worksheets can quite give back the wasted opportunity to ask meaningful and genuine questions to the person with the most experience in the matter.

In reality, the constant disappearance of one teacher or another has long ago been known to be detrimental to learning — there doesn’t need to be an article in the paper to tell you that much.

But when substitutes and packets of work designed to replaced the instructions of a knowledgeable professional continually grace students’ eyes, sometimes, a student has to ask themselves: Who can I rely on?