I didn’t expect to be so nervous, after all, Thea is 4 years old, how much bad stuff could a teacher possibly tell me? And yet, I have seem some 4 year olds tear apart a classroom, hit other children, destroy and conquer at their whim. Surely not my own kid, right?
As I sat down next to her teacher in the tiny little 4K chair, I wasn’t sure what to do now. She had welcomed us, Thea was proudly showing off her classroom to her younger siblings, and so I waited for the information to start. “She is a such a sweet girl…” were the first words we heard, and my heart that had been residing in my throat up until then started to slow down and slide down. Everything would be ok.
I have been doing parent-techer conferences for 6 years now and the past 3 years have been student-led. I thought I knew what it meant to be the parent walking into my room. I thought I knew how to put them at ease. And yet, it wasn’t until the other night that I truly got it. I want to hear that my child tries. I want to hear that my kid is ok and if they aren’t then how are we going to help them. I want to hear the concerns. I want an honest discussion led from wanting to help, not wanting to punish. I want the truth and I want to know what I can do.
As teachers, we have the power to devastate a parent. Sure, there are truths that sometimes are hard to say, but it is in how we say that that the difference lies. I am not there to ruin a child’s night, but I am there to be truthful in what they need to conquer to be successful students, or even kids, sometimes. I am there to say what I see but in such a way that it is seen as fixable, not determined. As workable and not as too late to do anything about.
As we left, Brandon turned to me and said, “She has empathy, that means a lot to me.” Never mind the letters she doesn’t recognize or the fact that she always counts 11, 12, 13, 16… – but our kid is empathetic. She will be ok after all, her teacher told me so, even if there are things to work on.
5 thoughts on “Just Tell Me the Truth But Tell it Kindly”
I just LOVE reading your blog! So many times I’ve needed tissues. You are such an emotional, powerful writer.
Anyway as a Teacher Mom of a JK student I totally get what you are saying. I’ve been teaching for 10 years so I’ve done a few parent teacher interviews but now that I have a school age child I have a totally different perspective and I like to feel like I’m a lot more understanding. I have a complete picture of my students/parents now. Not just the school side of it. I use to think “why can’t they just read at night with their kid” well.. the hours between 5:30-7:30 don’t last very long and you have to squeeze in swimming lessons, dinner, down time, bath, bed routine and yeah sometimes getting that homework or book is really tough.
My daughter has her observation visit next week and I am nervous. She had a really difficult start to school and it’s just now in the last week where there hasn’t been any tears!
Enjoyed this post! Each year I sit on both sides of the ARD table- at times as a parent and others as a teacher- so I see both sides to it. Even as a teacher, walking in to a meeting with numerous people there to discuss your child’s progress can be daunting and intimidating. Celebrate the good, work on the needed, and cherish the journey- she’ll be grown before you know it.