I loved school. I ‘played’ teacher as a child. I wanted to be a teacher since I was…um….born?
That’s not a lie. I wanted to be a teacher or an actress. For those of us who went into teaching – there is much irony because teaching is often acting.
Let’s be honest…
- we pretend to like kids we don’t really like
- we pretend to like parents we don’t really like
- we pretend to like colleagues we don’t really like
- we pretend to like administrators we don’t really like
It’s an act – not all the time, but some of the time.
It’s conference time. Let me tell you about conferencing. I’m a teacher and going to conferences is my greatest ‘act’ yet – not as a teacher, but as a parent. What’s the act? Well…let me tell you.
SInce I’ve had Tucker I have had the dubious distinction of attending nearly 14 school conferences (not counting his IEP meetings).
Since I’ve had Tucker, I have had the dubious distinction of recognizing the struggle that many parents face – a struggle that I never thought I would face.
What is this struggle? Hating conference time – not just the act of the conference, but the time all together.
The conference itself is generally yucky. Just another opportunity to hear about how ‘wrong’ your child is – about how far ‘off’ from ‘normal.’ When you open up Facebook and parents across the nation are exclaiming the ‘wonderfulness that is my child’ all you can think about is the ‘next step.’
Don’t get me wrong – we have had EXCELLENT teachers for Tucker – and each one of them was as lovely as possible – but it doesn’t change the facts. It doesn’t change the charts and graphs that they are bound to show. It doesn’t change the anxiety that comes days before your conference…what will you talk about, what do you need to talk about, what changes need to be made, and how do you talk about these changes without sounding bossy or entitled.
Acting through Tucker’s conferences has helped me become a more loving, understanding, compassionate person. Estelle’s conferences are always lovely. She’s a great student who sometimes loses focus and talk when she shouldn’t Yep, no surprises there. Not everyone gets to have that experience. That’s simply the truth.
This leads me to serious concern about students who struggle. If I was a parent who had a negative school experience I would hate conferences that much more. What if I had a bad school experience? The very LAST thing I would want to do is come to the place that caused me distress to hear about how ‘wrong’ my child is. I don’t know what the answer is…but we can (and should) do better for our children.
Honesty is part of the conferencing process – but could we work harder at cloaking that honesty in positivity? Could we say –
- Your child may struggle with math – but their artistic skills are outstanding. Maybe we could somehow combine math into an artistic form so it makes sense to them?
- Your child may struggle with reading – but the PE Teacher says their ability to work with other children is outstanding. Maybe we could you your child read about leaders in the PE field?
Step 1 – Admit what they aren’t the best at – we need to know.
Step 2 – Admit what they are good at – we need to know.
Step 3 – Develop idea for how step 2 can support step 1.
How about that? Then I wouldn’t feel the need to put on an act. An act for his teachers, an act for myself, and an act for him. I could come home and say….’Tucker, we know you struggle with writing. So, we developed a plan to map out writing like a math/logic problem. I’m working with your teachers and am very excited about this new way of learning.”
Tonight at 4:10 PM I’m going to try this out –
I’ve always been an advocate of working as a team (See Day #38- Teamwork) so instead of just listening – I’m going to be an active participant.
Hope his teachers are ready for my new act.