Monday, March 21, 2016

Family Conferences: A Time to Work Together to Serve Children Well

It's conference time--time to meet with each family. In some cases, children are running their own conferences, in other cases it's the teacher and parent(s) who are meeting, and still more it's a mix of both approaches. Those are the choices we gave to families.

As I think about the conferences, there's a part of me that wants to be "everybody" for everyone--I want to be able to be the teacher that makes a difference, smooths the rough patches, contributes to growth, and cares deeply for every child. It's true, I do care deeply for every child, and it's also true that there's been a lot of progress and growth for every child, but it's also true that children, like us, are a mix of strengths and challenges--like all of us, they bring to the world a set of unique and very special traits and characteristics.

As I meet with families, we discuss each child's wonderful strengths as there's not one child without those strengths--the characteristics that make them stand out. It's also true that no child is every child--children, like us, have their unique profile. Some have many, many friends, others ace most tests, and still more are wonderfully creative. Most are a bit of this and bit of that--yet, there's really no one who is everyone, no one that has all the characteristics of all children.

So as I meet with parents, I think it's important to recognize the unique strengths. I also think it's important to acknowledge areas that might not come as easy, areas that require greater attention and perseverance if deemed worthy. I also think it's important to discuss how we can work together to support each child well.

In the long run, what I wish for every child that I teach is first that they are surrounded by people who love them and are committed to them as that's the greatest gift anyone can ask for. Next, I wish that every child will think of themselves as worthy of a good life. After that, I want children to develop confidence, interests, skill, and knowledge--the tools to build a good life. Finally, I mostly hope that every child I teach will find happiness--happiness with people they love, positive work they're invested in, a good life, and contribution to their loved ones, community, and perhaps the greater society.

The best we can do for every child is to give them the best of who we are and what we do. As elementary school teachers we lay the foundation of skill, concept, and knowledge in content and learning-to-learn habits and attitudes. We have the potential to strengthen children's dreams as well as their paths to reaching those dreams.

I'm fortunate to work in a community that cares deeply for their children. It is a pleasure to work with families to serve children well. Conference time reminds me of that.