About Me:

Aloha! I'm Wendy Kennar. I'm the mother of a seven-year-old son and a wife living in Los Angeles. I was a public school teacher for twelve years until a chronic medical condition made it necessary to leave my teaching career.

I've always been described as "quiet" - really, I'm just biting my tongue. I've got lots to say, and lots of thoughts to share, I just prefer to write them. That's the purpose of this blog. Each Wednesday, I post a personal essay offering my observations and thoughts.

A few fun facts about me: I've wanted to be a writer since second grade, when my teacher, Mrs. Jones, made me a "book" with a yellow construction paper cover. I have never learned to whistle, have always preferred sunflowers to roses, and have spent my life living within the same zip code.

Through the years, my writing has been published in the Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, United Teacher, GreenPrints, L.A. Parent, DivineCaroline.com, RoleReboot.org, XOJane, and Brain, Child Magazine. Additionally, my personal essays have been included in several anthologies, including: The Barefoot Review, Beyond the Diaper Bag, Lessons From My Parents, Write for Light, Being a Grown-Up: A User's Manual for the Real World, Ka-Pow!, How Writing Can Get You Through Tough Times, Breath and Shadow, The Grey Wolfe Storybook, and Sisters Born, Sisters Found.
I am a regular contributor at MomsLA.com, and you can also find me at Goodreads.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Feel free to comment and share my blog with others!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Conference Time

It’s parent-teacher conference week at school.  Optional parent-teacher conferences.  Meaning, I’m not running around, making phone calls asking parents to show up and discuss their child’s school progress. They either contact me and let me know they want to meet or they don’t.  Some parents think the label “optional” takes the responsibility off them and rests entirely on my shoulders.  Parents assume that if I wanted to meet with them badly enough, I’d contact them and ask them to come in.  I don’t do that during this week.  Instead, I tell my students that I hope all their parents will make appointments to meet with me.  That I want the chance to say, in person, how much I love their child and all the wonderful, fantastic things their child is accomplishing in fourth grade.  And, of course, we will also talk about the less-than-fantastic things these same wonderful children are accomplishing in fourth grade.
Fifteen minutes, and some cases more, for me to talk about a child.  Some of my conferences are easier than others.  For some, it’s a report card full of well-earned, high marks.  Praises and compliments abound.  I compliment their spelling test grades, their mathematic aptitude, their high levels of respect and cooperation.
Some teachers dread parent conferences.  I dread writing report cards.  I don’t like making students fit into little categories, describing their efforts based on a 4, 3, 2, 1 scale.  I spend countless hours in “professional development” being trained on how to teach to the whole child; how to acknowledge that our children are individuals and learn at different rates and in different methods.  Yet, it all comes down to ranking them the same way.  That’s why I enjoy conferences.  I want a parent to know their child always raises a hand to read aloud.  I want a parent to know their child does cooperate, follow directions, and relate well with others.
Call me old-fashioned, call me unrealistic, call me what you will - but I firmly believe that my students’ work habits and social skills grades are just as important as their academic grades.  I don’t care if my students know their multiplication facts if they’re not kind people.  So, when I’m discussing my student’s incomplete homework, I’m also discussing their consistency in always picking up trash found on the floor.  When I let a parent know that a student hesitates to ask questions, I also let the parent know that the student never hesitates to offer to help me pass out papers.
We begin by teaching our children that it’s what’s inside that counts.  They need to try hard, be good people, earnest citizens.  Report cards don’t allow me to have that type of conversation.  Parent conferences do.


  1. Honey,

    You are an amazing teacher and this article is proof.

    You really care about these kids becoming good people and that is special.

    They are lucky to have you as their teacher.



  2. You are a wonderful teacher and any child that is lucky enough to be taught by you will walk away a better all around child from when he or she first walked into your classroom.You are a wonderful teacher and truly care about each child that sits in your classroom.Parents need to become more involved in their child's life and connect more with their school work.You certainly have a way with using words.I love you and I am very proud of you.

  3. Parent-Teacher conferences are very important. Unfortunately, many Parents are so involved with their own lives, they have little or no time for their own children. I regret that my Parents didn't have time for me. Your Mother & I are proud of you.

    Love, Dad

  4. I agree that parent's should be more involved in their child's development, but sometimes it's a matter of transportation or language barriers that they might not show up. It's not that they don't care sometimes they just can't. I was bussed to the valley since 2nd grade and my folks didn't own a car so I knew they couldn't go. Great article!