Parents' Weekend, that is. Which shouldn't feel like as big a deal as it does. But I slept for 11 1/2 hours last night and am not planning on getting a lot done today. Or tomorrow, because here's the beauty part: We get the Monday off after Parents' Weekend as a holiday! And thank goodness, because I'm kind of a zombie.
Of course, we earn every minute of that day off. Last Thursday, I had to write formal progress reports for all new students and all students in academic difficulty; those get mailed home and arrive mid-week right before Parents' Weekend. Then, over the weekend and on Monday, I wrote informal academic updates for all of the other students and sent those to the students' advisors. Then I spent a couple of hours on Thursday collating all of the various reports and updates on each of my eight advisees and in some cases following up with teachers to get more details.
Then, on Friday, we have a long assembly first thing, and then every class met for half an hour, during which I did my best to (figuratively) sing, dance, and juggle, all while making a connection with each and every parents. In most of the smaller classrooms, parent and student bodies are just crammed in; there are folding chairs everywhere, and everyone just does the best they can. I'm lucky in that regard, because I have a large classroom that has low built-in bookcases running down the two long sides of the room, and these bookcases are topped with a counter that the students sit on while their parents get the seats; the students always love sitting on the counters (it's a special thing), and we all have breathing room. It's a slightly awkward audience moment, because I'm talking to the parents about "your daughters" while also making sure the students themselves are involved and getting a chance to show off for their parents. My personal goal is to have every parent beaming and eating out of my hand by the end of the half-hour, and I accomplished that in three of my four classes; the last class is always the flattest of my classes, and it's an afternoon class so the parents are tired by then, so I'm giving myself a break on this one.
Then, once classes are over, I met with five sets of advisees' parents in a row, and then came back in on Saturday morning to meet with the last three. In these meetings, I gave parents the various updates and progress reports and talked about how things are going with their kid -- the exact topics of our conversation depended on the kid in question. We talked college applications and SATs and social adeptness and diligence in homework and situations at home; the conversations ran the gamut. I always give the advisees themselves the option of attending those meetings, and a couple of the students did want to be in on the meeting, which was great in one instance and awkward in another (a senior who is just the loveliest person in the world but in front of her parents becomes sullen and a typical teenager; fortunately, she didn't join us until halfway through the meeting).
Each of these meetings is about half an hour; this is the weekend when having a large advisee groups really adds significantly to my labor. (I have eight advisees; some teachers have only three or four, and one particularly awkward teacher doesn't have any. It is a compliment to have a large advisee group -- it means that the students like me and the administrators trust me -- but it's one of those compliments that translates into more work ... something FGS does a lot.)
Plus, Saturday is Homecoming, so there were games and festivities all day. This year the faculty ordered special t-shirts that say "FGS Faculty" on the front and have the school mascot on the back; they are actually very nice t-shirts, and I was happy to plunck down my $10 for it, and they allowed us to look school-spirit-y all the time on Saturday even if (as in my case) we were fighting a bad headache and getting increasingly wiped out. I will admit that I slipped away from school by mid-afternoon, during the JV games, and missed the varsity games altogether. We aren't required to go to all of the games, so I wasn't doing anything wrong in leaving, but I was certainly not showing the maximum level of commitment and school spirit.
But now, having slept almost around the clock, I begin to feel as though I have lived to tell the tale. There are only three weeks left in the trimester, and then we have exams right before Thanksgiving. I miraculously have nothing to grade this weekend except one small set of quizzes, but then on Tuesday begins a period in which I will have something to grade all the time until the term ends -- this is just inevitable, and there's nothing to be done about it, but it adds to the piquancy of these next two days before the deluge begins.
(And hey, despite everything else going on, I did manage to write before school on three days last week and wrote another 1200 words! Yay!)