Let’s talk about this child: Slice of Life March challenge # 11

Let's talk about this child #sol16

I just finished two nights of parent/teacher conferences. For the first time in my career, I barely reached for report card copies. Yes, we talked academic growth and progress. Worries were mentioned. Questions were asked. But it was not really about that.

It was about recognizing the vulnerabilities. About bearing witness to history. About honouring the family. Celebrating the child.

I felt needed. Needed differently than the children need me. But needed all the same.

I noticed what was unspoken. I felt it in the unsure eye contact. The fidgety hands. The brave smiles. The tears.

Tell me something lovely.

Show me that you love my child.

Share a happy story.

Confirm somehow you don’t judge me.

Agree to not mention my mistakes.

Make school feel like a safe place.

And so I shared.

“Let’s talk about this child! This child of yours. This child we share. Here is what I notice. Here is what I treasure. Here is what I celebrate!”

All day I teach these children. I know their courage, their persistence and their frustrations. I know things of their dreams. What they avoid. Their idiosyncrasies.

I don’t really know their parents. They don’t really know me. But we share a child in common. And that is huge.

These gifts I received were unexpected. Trust. Gratitude. Joy. Pride. From adults. These parents. In 15 minute sessions, we swooped up, dove down, glided. I witnessed sorrow and shame. Elation and relief. Quiet, bursting pride.

If we are true teachers, we are huge learners. I did a lot of learning at these conferences. These evenings where we pushed assessments and curriculum to the side and agreed, “Let’s talk about this child.”

Bad Irony: Slice of Life

I am participating in the Slice of Life challenge to write and publish a post every day in March.

Slice of Life is hosted by Two Writing Teachers. I thank them for the community they provide. Read more slices here.


36 thoughts on “Let’s talk about this child: Slice of Life March challenge # 11

  1. Oh thank you for this post! I am going to print this out and put it in my conference folder so I can read it before PTC each year. What an incredible gift you are to those kids and their parents!

  2. The piece of advice I’ve always shared with new teachers is that if they can be sure the parents know they love their child, everything else will fall into place. You are so right, and I worked with a different group of parents, as you know, but the same feelings were there. I’m glad it went well, Carrie, and that you found new ways to teach a child after meeting the parents.

  3. How could these conferences not be meaningful and positive when they start this way:
    “Let’s talk about this child! This child of yours. This child we share. Here is what I notice. Here is what I treasure. Here is what I celebrate!”

  4. Yes! Celebrate! Highlighting strengths and all those tiny moments of glow…that’s what we should remember. Building up so kids are confident to take new risks. No data binder will achieve this…ever.

  5. Child, celebration, treasures, gifts – these are the words that make a conference valuable and meaningful. We have conferences in two weeks. I am looking forward to the learning celebrations.

  6. Conferences should be a celebration: a celebration of all the good that child is! There are plenty of times where parents (and students) are beat up and beat down. Conferences, while the conversations should be real, should be a spot where the good in each child is shown to parents. Thank you for writing this in a way I never could! 🙂

  7. This reminds me of the words I shared in my post today from my child’s principal. He told us as parents – our school is big (2000 students) but don’t worry… we do school one kid at a time! Love your post — and I don’t think you pushed assessment aside – just some assessments!! Thank you for sharing and for being the teacher you are – inspirational.

  8. You get to the heart of what every parent wants to hear about. I always remind myself during conferences that I am talking with parents about someone they treasure. And as a parent, what I really wanted to know about was if my child enjoyed school, did she have friends, and could she get along with others. Sounds like those parents and kids are lucky to have you in their lives.

  9. “If we are true teachers, we are huge learners.” I loved your perspective on parent conferences. I loved that you focused on each child. Those kids are fortunate to have you for a teacher, Those parents are fortunate that you are in their lives.

  10. What a great approach to conferences. Focus on the child and the connection…not the report card!! Thank you for sharing.

  11. This is lovely! I have conferences next week and this was a great read heading into them. Your focus on showing families what you treasure about their child is excellent. Thank you for sharing!

  12. These parents are as blessed as their children to have you in their lives. I’ve said it before, Carrie. Your Slice of Life blogging is the heart of your memoir!

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