Monday, November 03, 2008

Parent Teacher Conferences: Mission Accomplished and New Practices

It's that time of year. The leaves are turning, skies are cloudy and grey and parent teacher conferences ensue. With two kids in elementary school, we've now completed both sets of conferences.

I need to say how much I respect teachers. They do an amazing job of moving kids forward. My husband and I are always ready and willing to help on the journey but they drive the process and do so with great effectiveness.

We're blessed with capable students (at least at this level) but there are a few things we're going to try to move from good to great. First, we're instituting family reading time. My husband and I are avid readers. My son, who is reading well, doesn't turn to a book as his first source of entertainment. My daughter is an emerging reader who could always use the practice. Thus, family reading time is born: 15 - 20 minutes of dedicated reading time, family discussion to follow. We may not do it every night but we will do it the majority of the week. Second, we need to incorporate a greater sense of gratitude and community in our lives. Kindergartners are about themselves. Second graders have a slightly wider sphere. Our kids demonstrate the foundational elements of empathy but we're choosing to push for more. Dinner time conversation (and maybe journal time) will focus on that for which we are grateful and how we can help others. We want to push the edges of that sphere of self outward, a bit at a time.

Feedback is a wonderful thing. As much as we enjoy the praise, it's always good to ask how we can get better. Those magicians of the classroom always have ideas, the one additional thing that can make the difference. I find these conferences energizing. And I want to hug their magnificent teachers.

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