We've reached the twelfth week of school: the week when we sit down with every parent to discuss their child's progress. I'm thinking that this must be stressful for many parents, but can say without reservations that it's intense for teachers.
Over the years I've learned that saying the unvarnished truth (as I know it) is often not the best route to take for forward progress. As a teacher, there is so much that I don't know and don't understand. When I sit down opposite a parent, I just hope that the words I say are the right ones -- positive, honest, kind, helpful and forward thinking. A tall order for a teacher at the end of a long day of teaching.
With some (actually, most) parents, I know that I hit the mark -- what I said resonated and confirmed what they already knew. They were aware that I appreciated and understood their child, even as I went on to discuss areas of improvement. Other parents were defensive and not able to have a dialogue. One set of parents politely asked if they could tape record our conference. I said, "Of course." And that's how it is.
Sometimes I wonder if I'm really wise enough to be a teacher. Sometimes I feel incredibly old as I face these ever younger parents, who seem to think that they have all the answers. Usually I just feel very gentle and forgiving as I face them -- being a parent is such a very difficult job.
As is being a teacher.