Thursday, October 8, 2015

Reflections from a parent/teacher conference

As a parent the best compliment I get is when someone says something nice about my kids.

And the inherent value of said compliment triples when it is given by someone that spends more one-on-one time with my kids than I do.

To date that has been a select few daycare employees and - of course - their teachers.

I am lucky in that my girls both LOVE school. I know that love may one day fade but for now I'm gonna roll with it and enjoy the fact that they enjoy it.

This year it's real school for both of them. No more kindergarten class with more playtime than book-learning time. No sir. This year my youngest has an actual dayplanner. It just got real.

And my oldest? Well...it's letter grades for the first time. And her planner is the smaller version this year. I guess because her letters aren't seven lines high anymore. Smaller printing = smaller planner.

They have been back in school for a month. We have settled into our routine - kinda. And that means it's time for the first parent teacher conferences of the year.


I approach these meetings with equal parts dread and excitement.

Excitement because I have confidence that my girls are good students with kind and caring dispositions.

Dread because I can't know this 100% for sure. What if they are actually big ol' meanies at school. And they sass back to the teacher. And they never put the home reading books back in the proper lettered bin?

And so it was with all of these thoughts swirling in my head that I went to meet the teachers and find out which was the truth.

First up was my youngest daughter's first grade teacher. She's lovely. One of those teachers that has been doing it for a long time but hasn't forgotten why she wanted to be a teacher in the first place. She still has that joy about her that the kids pick up on.

I sit down on the little plastic chair at the little table and wait for her to start.

"Well...let me start by saying your daughter is a real pleasure to teach and I'm very happy to have her in my class."

[cue the deep exhale and the assumption of a cocky "aw shucks" kind of grin]

She goes on to say that T is a very good student with a kind and caring disposition. She is ahead of the curve in reading and writing and right where she should be in every other subject.  She loves art and has a great imagination.

"Do you have any concerns?" I ask her hesitantly - because I figure there must be something. But no. Her only comment is that she needs to slow down a little, stop rushing through her work and be a little neater. 

Sounds like advice she needs to heed in all areas of her life...not just at school.

With that meeting done it was time to meet with my oldest daughter's grade 4 teacher. Of all the teachers in my little neighbourhood school she is the one that - how can I say this - gives off the least amount of warmth.

The kids all like her because she does cool projects and goes on lots of field trips. But she gives off the air of someone that has been teaching too long and has forgotten it's supposed to be enjoyable.

So this meeting was one I was dreading more than the other. I'm happy to report I had nothing to worry about. That I really shouldn't be so quick to judge.

While she isn't warm and fuzzy...she's good at her job and has pride in what she does. She has my girl pretty well figured out already and it was almost a relief to hear her talk about her strengths and weaknesses in a very matter of fact way.

"Your daughter is a wonderful student. She works hard in class and I enjoy teaching her."

She talked about her love of reading and writing and shared that she is operating at an exceptional level in those areas. And she said in math - always my worry - that she was 'right where she should be'

Phew....

As I left the school I had one phrase repeating in my head that made me swell up a little with parental pride.

"Whatever you are doing at home...it's working."

Both teachers had said that and it had made me feel so vindicated. My biggest worry over the past two years was that our marriage issues would have a negative impact on the girls.

That their grades would suffer and their self-esteem would take a hit. That they would lose their loving and confident natures and become emotionally needy and unsteady.

But so far it hadn't. Our efforts had been worth it.

"Whatever you are doing at home...it's working." 


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