Power of Parent Teacher Conferences

Every year single year I question how we do conferences in school. As an educator I often think that the system is an outdated system that needs a reboot.

And then I have my conferences as a parent for my own children and I change my mind.

This year I realized how important conferences can be. As any parent knows, our children are all completely different. Each one is unique in their own ways. And more importantly, they are different in different settings( home vs. school).

My son(my oldest) is one that is an amazing kid, yet is a bit of a struggle. He is an introvert like I used to be and just has a different beat to life. He takes everything in stride and simply does not get too worked up about things. More to the point he is a boy heading into that phase of life where we have really build up a lot of patience.

One thing we have been working with him is his confidence in himself and to come out of his shell a bit(on his own terms). He has so much he can offer the world if he would just believe in himself and get out there.

This post is not meant to be a gloat post about my children. Rather this sets the tone for the moment.

During conference we had to go through the typical parts of all conferences. The folder of work, self assessments, behavior, you know the typical system where you often feel like you are putting your time in. However, this one was different.

His teacher had the courage to be open and honest about his recent behavior. He has been rather talkative and has needed some reminders about paying attention.

Now at first I was like, “What?”

However, here is the kicker. She had to put herself out there by bringing it up. She had to be honest. She had to let a parent know about their child and how they were not behaving. This is tough. It is one thing to bring this to light and another to bring it to light in a proper manner. Even more difficult is that my wife and I are both teachers so that makes it even tougher. I have seen moments where the issues are brought up in such a negative light that parents have no choice but to be defensive. This was not the case. She handled it with a level of professionalism that allowed us to take the conversation to another level.

We took this opportunity to break down what is happening. As we had open real discussion it was brought up that Aiden is growing into his own, building his confidence, developing friends, and starting to sample waters about who he is and what he wants to be known as.

This does not dismiss the notion that he will respect his teacher and understand when and where to open up a bit. Class instruction time is not the time or place and this was addressed. However, we took it as a teachable moment. We could have come home and laid down the hammer and what would have that done? Closed him back up. Scare him back into his shell? Teach him that branching out leads to consequence?

That does not work.

We talked. We talked about the good and what was being observed. We discussed that doing these things are good and normal. However, there is a time. We cannot disrespect the people who are here to help us and in his case given him a wonderful year of learning. He realized that it was disrespectful to his teacher and he felt bad about that.

It turned out to be a positive learning experience for all of us.

In the end, thank you to all teachers who keep it real. Those who are not afraid to bring the truth. Those teachers who see what is happening by developing relationships with their students and understanding what is at stake. Understanding how to address situations and events beyond the surface level to understand what is really going on with each student in the classroom.

Teaching is not easy. BUT…..teaching is a life changer for students and I am fortunate that my children have teachers that push them in their development to become better people.

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