Saturday, October 26, 2013

An All Week Celebration

I was lucky this week. I got to celebrate triumphs and struggles all week long with parents during conferences. Struggles are a celebration as well. We get to see where the child is going. What will they do next? What is their next hurdle to jump and triumph to share?

I won't gloss it over too much. Students have struggles. Struggles that have as much to do with school as they do with their whole life. We all focus on these at times. However, I don't always see this focus as a bad thing as long as we have an ending goal in sight. My mom always says, "What we focus on expands." She is right. If we only focus on what is wrong and despair in this weakness it will grow like a weed in a rosebush.

It was my challenge this week to focus on all that was going well but to also share honestly.

I shared. Parents and I walked through all the content areas and learned where their child excels. Some are really good at Social Studies. Some are showing strength in science. Others are reading well above grade level. Students are growing and learning everyday.

During the conferences, if the students were present, I had them share their writing with their parents. It didn't matter what level the writer was, I did not see a single parent sit quietly or disgusted when their child shared their words. They were proud. They had every right to be proud. The evidence of growth from their once four or five year old, now five or six year old was there; right on the page. Everyone was smiling.
This is what I love about being a teacher of writers. The growth and evidence are always right in front of me. Sometimes with math or science it is harder to show a change over time with evidence. A unit test? It just doesn't have the same effect as a piece of writing from a once four year old to a year later.

Another celebration: Apparently there are rumors going around about me among students and their parents.
I had one parent ask, "So this looping thing, when does that end?"

I was a little taken aback. Uh oh, not sure I like the sound of this. I responded, "Well, after this year they will go to second grade and have a new teacher."

I had thought based on their tone maybe they were unhappy with the looping process. Wrong assumption.

"What? Why? I thought you were going to have them until fourth grade!?"

Upon further questions and discussions with parents, some thought I would continue with their child next year or through third grade, the misconceptions were plenty and I was a little bit touched by their responses. These parents are so invested in me and their child's education. We have a bond. One that will be hard to say goodbye to at the end of the year. I feel a tear already.

And finally, I think I shared a bit of this is a previous celebration. Here is a video of my school's middle school boys football team showing the world what it means to be a champion. I had several of these boys in kindergarten. Talk about needing a kleenex, go get one before you click the link.


LInda Baie said...

I know conferences are challenging, and tiring, but it sounds like you had a great time celebrating the students' accomplishments too. Fun to hear about the parents thinking you'd be there another year or two-a real compliment, Betsy!

Carol said...

I am the mom of two football players. Both are at junior colleges now. I immediately (ok immediately after I stopped crying) copied this link and sent it to them.

Leigh Anne said...

OH were not lying when you said go get the kleenex! What a proud moment for players, parents, and teachers! Wow!

Ramona said...

I can't wait for Monday so I can share this with my students. We need more kids like this in middle schools everywhere. I love your mom's saying that you shared with us, "What we focus on expands." Lots of wisdom in a few words.

Michelle Haseltine said...

Oh...I teach middle school and I admire each of these boys! They are role models for so many of us!!! Thank you for sharing! (And I certainly needed the tissues!)

elsie said...

Betsy, what a great celebration! I knew the parents would be wanting you to stay with their kids, they know they have someone special in their kids lives. As for that video, oh my! Those are some caring kids and that's the story we need to spread to the world.

Tammy Klinger said...

Nothing better than hearing parents that want you in their child's life! I had conferences as well this week it's always nice to have that bit of time to talk with parents about something we have in common-their child! I am excited about this week I am hoping to "Chalk Up" with your chalk-a-bration on Thursday!

Terje said...

Looking at conferences as celebrations is a right way to go in my mind. There is always some growth, and goal setting promises more growth in the future.
About looping. In Estonian Kindergartens teachers take kids from 3 year-olds when they start preschool to 7-year olds when they finish kindergarten and are ready for first grade. In elementary school teachers have the same kids from grade 1 to grade 3. It has its benefits and drawbacks. The teachers usually like it because they can really see the kids grow.

debf said...

So many pieces to celebrate! I love the point your mom makes "What we focus on expands", this is so try and why I love this challenge! I have conferences coming up in a few weeks and appreciate you sharing about your experience, makes thinking about the upcoming weeks easier!
I first saw this video on the football team on the world news. I was touched then and now I am even more moved knowing they're former students of yours.