I started this post on a different note, but by the time I came back to it, things had changed, and there were other things on my mind. If I was really good, I would have written two posts by now, but…
I was feeling sad about how we, as teachers, might have failed our kids with regards to spelling. It was on my mind as we’ve been discussing in our literacy meetings. But then I attended my daughter’s parent-teacher conference, and it was so positive, I don’t think I can write about failure.
My daughter is an amazing person–unique, fiery, charismatic, energetic, passionate–but all of that also means difficult. She’s not your student who sits there passively, does what she’s told exactly and does it well. She often can’t hide her excitement nor her frustrations, and from a previous teacher, that’s what I heard. Last year, conferences were about how to calm her, keep her controlled, keep her on the right track. Last year was a year of fighting, of frustration and for my daughter, it was a year where she started to feel like she wasn’t as good as other people.
So, this year, first parent teacher conference, I was prepared. I knew her teacher was a completely different person than last year, but still, I had my agenda–does she need math tutoring, how is her spelling, what can we do at home to boost her skills? How is she with friends? But my agenda fizzled away as her teacher shared what my daughter had written as her strengths, and he added to those. He gave specific examples of times when she did understand math conceptually. He talked about how she was learning to relax and contribute, even if she might be wrong. He talked about how she was getting better at listening to others and letting them take the lead. He dismissed my ideas of her being “bossy.”
His talk wasn’t pollyanna, but genuine. I relaxed as he talked and thought about his classroom environment and how positive the kids must feel. It’s relaxing, allows kids to think for themselves and form new ideas. He seems to know each student’s real strengths and what they need to grow, and he nurtures it. He made me reflect on my own teaching and how to let the kids breathe more because after all, they’re kids.
Keep it positive. Kids are amazing. I’m learning a lot from my daughter’s teacher and my colleague.