To me, open house night feels less like a casual meet and greet and more like speed dating.
The similarities are uncanny.
I forego my usual casual blouse in favor of a classy dress that attempts to hide the fact that I'm still under 30 and in charge of a bunch of 12-and-13-year-olds. I check my teeth for stray bits of food. I smooth down my hair to give the illusion that I haven't actually been at this school for thirteen hours already. I choose my words carefully, hoping to convey the right balance of accountability and joy. I smile widely. I gesture wildly. I talk animatedly, hoping to convince parents that my version of seventh grade ELA won't be the soul-sucking experience some of them might have had.
I talk about choice, about passion, about my own personal educational approach. I talk and talk and talk and talk, and even while I'm talking, I know I'm forgetting things, forgetting to mention pieces of our classroom that might complete the picture I'm trying desperately to paint in 10 minutes.
The parents stare back at me. Some nod their heads, some let their eyes glaze over, some furrow their brows. A few questions. And then, they leave. Most will forget me. I will be reduced to an offhand anecdote shared at the dinner table, a persistent weekly email, or a name emblazoned next to a grade on a report card.
But maybe, when their child jumps into the car after school and immediately sticks his nose in a book marked along the top with my last name, or when she shyly proffers up a piece of writing that she's proud of, those same parents might remember that there's more to Ms. K than the slightly crazed teacher in a nice dress who talked way too fast for 10 minutes on a hot August evening. Maybe, just maybe, something that I said will echo through their heads, and they'll smile to themselves, content in the knowledge that seventh grade ELA doesn't suck too badly.
Those moments that I never get to witness, the moments I'll never be able to recount as evidence of my impact on children? The possibility that they exist is enough to make open house speed dating worth it.