Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Parent Teacher Conference

I'm so excited to have started this blog about my daughter's and my experience with Board of Education schools and their teachers.  My first six to eight weeks have been bitter sweet.  Feeling excited daily about my daughters education and curious to what she is experiencing and how she is being assessed by others.  I have to admit I was looking forward to hearing how awesome and sweet she is.  The reality is she is sweet and quiet and that definitely communicated that she is not invested.    Problem with that is I consistently convince my child to listen and to behave for her teachers and I may have misread the demands of a Board of Education classroom.  Simply her teachers found no value in what I thought was important going into school for the first time.  What clearly needs to be happening is a drive to engage between teachers and students.  The teacher-student interaction almost needs to be competitive.   Mrs.Peters is a wonderful seasoned teacher who is full of smiles and full of valued experience and as a parent I intend to team up with her to help my child meet the common core benchmarks.   I thought "this is kindergarten how hard can it be?" but on the contrary its been a mystery for me.  I didn't realize how much of the changes in standards and criteria in grades across the state would impact kindergarten.  Kindergarten has not been excused from the growing demands on education and needless to say preschool prep is not only valuable but mandatory.   

So we had our first parent teachers conference and from the looks of  Our report card I made sure to see Mrs. Peters in the first session while she had all her energy. I came in prepared to tell her she made some mistakes in her evaluation of my daughter's progress. She explained that according to the core standards, she didn't make the marks. I saw folders, diagnostics, test scores and portfolio work which appeared to show progress but in Mrs. Peters perspective not enough.  Problem is if I use the 1 to 4 scale provided by the Board of Education her evaluation would be inconclusive because the evidence of work and test scores and Mrs. Peters opinion does not match.  As a parent I was shocked at how procedure, protocol and policy in this system really does not support the total experience for the student and teacher.  I felt my daughter in many ways had met the mark but Mrs.  Peters wanted to stay relevant in what she needs to happen moving forward.  I completely agree with that unfortunately the lines of communication were not established and she never once reached out to communicate her concerns and she did have ample opportunity since I stop in her classroom every other week to say "hi" and volunteer my time whenever she needs it.  Its unfortunate how the system does not support success for all parties.  In reflection having been in the teachers seat I completely understand we are two different people with different ideas.  

My question is how do we pull together to help my child meet those benchmarks?  How do we utilize this school and teacher to meet the demands of this awkward system where there are far too few breakthroughs?  Well for starters communication is essential in building relationships in support of the common goal.  The common goal is success.  I wanted to throw my hands up but I thought about every parent I met and every teacher I will meet.  A very good friend of mine inboxed me, her name is Mrs. Grier she is an administrator for the Brooklyn Preparatory School in New York.   I want to share what she was thinking

" involvement is vital and crucial to children's success in school. I have learned from our school's visionary and Principal.   that "Involvement [certainly] leads to increase".  As an administrator and early educator involved in  both the classroom and school management process combined at now almost 21 years, I am finding that from year to year you will have what I am now coining, parents and guardians in one of two categories: Fans  vs. Followers. You will have those who will one day praise your institution until you've dropped the ball that one time after a lengthy period of consistency in support of their child's learning and growth  or they will rally with you until the end respecting and cooperating with the educational standards, protocols, procedures, and practices set in place in the spirit of advocacy for their child's whole development. As one in facing this dilemma, I would have to ask them which one are you? A Fan or a Follower.   Is your overbusy-ness and day to day affairs affecting your ability to build resourceful relationships with your child's surrogate parent – the teacher?  Think about it…."
I immediately considered how difficult it is to be thrown into a working relationship with someone I don't know.  How important the relationship is to the future success of my child and how awkward it is to work in a system that has created a spirit of division and mistrust.  Luckily, I have other plans for my daughter school year.  I intend to bridge the gap in communication.  Also, I will work closely with Our school and Our teacher to meet the reading, writing and math goals created by the help of Mrs. Peters.  Since she is an experienced professional in this industry I will trust her expertise to get US to where we need to be.  Finally,  I do consider myself a partner in education and while your reading this think about how you will partner up with your team of teachers to win this school year!  Good luck!