I’m channeling my inner diplomat today in preparation for tonight’s parent-teacher conferences. I am always torn between blunt truth and hopeful optimism when dealing with parents. On the one hand I’ve “been there, done that”. I’ve been a parent and been on the other side of the conference scenario many, many times. I’ve had to listen to some things that I didn’t want to hear. I’ve had to deal with some situations that I didn’t think would arise with three remarkably intelligent children. However, I learned that even gifted children can have problems in school that cause their mother sleepless nights and require agonizing decisions.
I’m also a teacher who has had experience with not just three, but hundreds of children. That changes my perspective and allows me to see the serious implications of personality, attitude, motivation, and work habits even at this tender age. I have an advantage that most of my students’ parents do not have- I’ve watched my previous students grow up. I’ve had the opportunity to witness their progress as students and their development into adulthood. I’ve even taught children of former students. I can predict with a high degree of accuracy which of my current students is going to struggle in school for at least the next few years. So I often have to offer advice tempered with tact. Most parents of kindergarten students believe wholeheartedly in the magic wand of maturity. In a few months or a few years their child will suddenly change and become a great student. Progress and change are seldom sudden or magical. They are the result of cooperation, hard work, and perseverance.
So…if you visit with me tonight I will tell you what I have observed and how your child has performed in class. I’ll discuss test results. I’ll report any behavior problems. I won’t lie to you, but I’ll try to be kind. I know that you have a lot of love and ego invested in your child. Been there….