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Wednesday, March 7, 2012


When I was three my big cousin Chris and I would play school. Often.  A lot.  Our favorite thing to do.  However, she was always the teacher.  I WANTED to be the teacher so bad.....  sooooo bad!  But as she explained she was actually in school and knew what she was talking about.  I mean, for goodness sake, she was in kindergarten, so how dare I think I knew what to do.

Or maybe it was my first grade teacher Mrs. Devine.  That sweet sweet woman who saw something in me. When she figured out I was getting off the bus myself, letting myself in, staying alone for hours each afternoon/evening she figured a way to help me.  She asked me for help.  Clearly she needed help correcting papers.  Clearly one of the best teachers ever couldn't keep up with that herself;-)  She sent a note home and next thing you knew three days a week I was her assistant.

Best days ever!

Even though sometimes I would circle wrong answers in the manual rather than the student's paper and I was so embarrasses, thinking I was doomed to never be able to be a teacher, she just shrugged and said, "Don't worry about it," with a soft smile and then sat at her desk.  She put me at ease.  I've never been more at ease as when I've been in a classroom in my life.  Don't get me wrong, in my pre-student teaching I was a nervous wreck, but in a good way.  In a way as if, I was to understand you.  I want to help you.  I want to teach you sort of way.

I spent alllllllllllll those years wishing and dreaming of becoming a teacher.

I still have nightmares that I missed a class and I couldn't actually graduate with my degree to get my teaching license.  That's how valuable it is to me.

Last Thursday, Friday, and Monday (after teaching all day) we had conferences.
Conferences are a very stressful time for teachers.  Not because of how much we need to assess or how much we need to prepare, but it's the unknown from the parents that is so stressful.

I could do an individual blog just about parent communication.  But that would either get me fired or an pulitzer prize.

I take conferences very seriously.   That's why I usually call parents in several times a year because two just isn't enough.  Granted parent communication is definitely 'my thing'.

After being taken completely and totally taken advantage of and verbally abused for 65 straight minutes I changed some things up.  I was unusually laid back.  Ultimately, it's YOUR kid.  So deal, people, deal.

However, all my communication, heart ache, frustration, hard work, long talks....finally paid off.

I had appreciative parents!!!!  It wasn't perfect.  I can't document the actual achievements, but they're there and it's an amazing feeling.

I have one student who's new to the school and started off strong and has been slacking for about six weeks and has had some back talk and mean talk to friends.  I knew it was going to be a tough conference since I've been informing this mom each week in his Weekly Progress Report about his behavior.  Each student receives this each week.

I didn't expect 'real' dad to show up with divorcing mom since I already had some pretty tough stuff to say. I carried on with my conversation with the work samples I had.  I decided not to go into not being nice friend since it was already tense.  Then mom brought it up.  Then I had little choice.  It is what it is.  This is what he said.  I gave them an example and the mom said, "I cannot believe he said that!"  I didn't say a thing and I looked at him and he looked at her and said, "I said it mom."

Long story short (no that short though) he cried, the dad bawled, the mom was choked up and I ended up on the opposite side of the table rubbing the sobbing students back reassuring him that tomorrow would be a better day. (Which it was)

They finally walked out on a note I couldn't identify as anything but sad then the dad walked back in.  Not good.  Not good is what I was telling myself.  I could not let myself get yelled at again.

But he walked up to me and said direct quote - I hope I never forget it -Shit, "If I would have had a teacher be that brutally honest with me I know I would have been a better student."

What an amazing response.

I wish I could thank Mrs. Devine.  I hope she hears my prayers.

*Note to parents who are going to meet a teacher for a conference for your child.  Treat them with respect and be open to their requests and opinions.  

Once a parent brought me a hot apple cider to the conference and I could have cried at her generosity.   That was seven years ago.  Tell your child if they're making a difference in your child's life.

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