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Surviving parent-teacher conference week is a badge of honor, both as a parent and a teacher. As a parent, I get to experience the joy and satisfaction of hearing about my children through the eyes of someone else.
I am pleased to say that my two oldest children are doing very well in school. They enjoy school, they love their teachers and they are happy. Even more satisfying is listening to their teachers and feeling the genuine care that they feel towards my children. It does my heart good to know that when I'm not there, my kids each have another adult with them who looks out for them, encourages and nudges them to be their best selves and who honestly cares about them. They are both in good hands.
My two younger children are also lucky like this. They have a wonderful daycare - a place where they look forward to going each day, a place where they don't want to leave in the evening, a place where they feel at home. They love their sitter and she loves them. She is calm, kind and she knows my children as well as her own. She searches out new foods for my one-year-old who doesn't make feeding time easy. She cares for my four-year-old's food allergies as I do myself...carefully, vigilantly, but with respect. She always makes sure that she has a yummy alternative if there is something she can't eat like everyone else and she has searched her cookbooks for things to make that are safe for my daughter. Needless to say, we love her.
While reflecting on these important people in my own children's lives, I started thinking about my students and their families. As a teacher, I have always enjoyed meeting the parents of my students. I met families this week that are strong and resilient and supportive. They have faced adversity and challenge and haven't given up. Instead, they have pushed on and have repeatedly sought out the best help for their children that they could. I also met parents who don't understand or don't want to understand that their children are struggling, no matter what they see and hear. How will I reach them? I met families who regularly see counselors in order to deal with and manage their daily lives. I heard stories of adoption and stories of health problems. I heard about little problems and big problems. I heard about success stories - babies who weren't supposed to walk or talk but who are active kindergarten students today! I met parents who are well established and stable. I met parents who are so young they are still learning to take care of themselves, let alone their children, and everything in between. How will I reach them?
I've been thinking of all of these families and how I am linked to them. I keep thinking about how lucky my own children are each day to share their days with amazing people and how I hope that my students and their families feel the same way about their kindergarten experience this year.
I have some very difficult children in my classroom this year. I have children that try my very last nerve each and every day. I can't help but think that these are the same children who need my love, caring and kindness more than all the rest. I need to find a way to get through to those kids. I know that if I can win over those children, I can win the game. It's time to huddle up and strategize and do this! Game on!