Day 2 – the challenge – conferences!
While listening to a talk last night on the internet I heard the phrase – “the auspicious wonder that lies at the heart of making.” What a great thought!
The talk was about gift giving and the making of gifts. The speaker comes from the creative field and was talking about things that are made but the wonder lies in the space around the making -he thinking, the sharing and the passing of this gift on to others.
This brought me to my teaching. What are the gifts of teaching? I though about the parents and students I had spent the day conferencing with. These were conferences with the students who are not in a special needs program but who are below grade level and are at rick of not passing the spring state tests. They are considered our red and yellow zone kids. ( Green and Blue being at or above grade level) What gifts did we give each other? What was passed between us and held in the space we shared as we reviewed what was working or not working for each student?
As teachers we had spent the weeks before gathering data – test scores, student work, and behavior charts but when it came right down to the moment of the conference all that data dropped away and it was the conversation between teacher, parent and student that really mattered. The gift of sharing what we know about each other, what was working and not working in the classroom, at home and for the student.
There was a moment of creation (a gift of wonder) in each conference when parent/s, student and teacher understood each other a bit better, issues we had been struggling with made more sense to everyone and new roads were opened up for us to use in repairing the problems we were having with learning and behavior.
One parent was very concrete with her “gift” of wanting to share the struggles they had traveled to get to this moment in 4th grade. She brought along a small picture book of her son. These were baby photos – his birth weight was 1 pound 5 ounces. He was a surviver! And so was she. They had traveled a long road to get to this conference and she wanted to share that journey with us. What a gift that was for us as teachers. We saw her pride, her tiredness and her asking us to help her with her “baby.” He struggles with behavior out bursts and the ability to be still just isn’t there. She knows and understands but also needed us to share in the distance they have traveled. The joy she hears in his reading and math work. He is here and thriving.
These conferences which I had entered with concern and a bit of dread turned into a day of auspicious wonder. A day of gift giving between concerned parents and teachers. A gift to students to try again at learning to refocus themselves.
Even in this day of high stacks testing, layers and layers of data the real learning comes at these moments when we take the time to give and receive the gift of time and conversation. Yes to the conferences!