Celebrating with Ruth Ayers and others who take a moment and celebrate something, here. Thank you!
This week I celebrate grace. It is in the tiny places of my day when I slow down and let it in. When I stop long enough to breathe and let things go the way they will.
I had a long and exhausting parent conference week last week. It was successful, and I tried (for the first time) student-led conferences. They were informative on so many levels. However, the week ended on a sour note with a parent who was very unhappy with me. I felt horrible, almost devastated (but not quite.) My relationships with the families I serve are very important to me, and I take a lot of pride in them. When they go south, which is a rarity, I feel lost and disconnected. I spend a lot of time trying to figure out why, and what I could have done differently. I usually vacillate between “It is all their fault and I have done NOTHING wrong,” to “It takes two to tango and you need to step up and take responsibility for your part in the problem.” And then I muddle around in the in-between spaces. For a good part of a day. Or more. This is an energy-sucker.
About those student-led conferences… wow. I don’t think I will ever go back. The first thing I noticed was that I wasn’t so tired each evening, at least not in the way that I usually am after a day of talking and thinking about each student in front of their parents. Because the student had to take the lead, I sat and observed. Beforehand, I created a checklist of some things I wanted them to cover about how our day goes, and then I sat back and let them share. I was present and remembered to breathe. I listened carefully. And I gained a lot of insight.
I now understand that B finds it difficult to speak in sentences because he and his mother chirp at each other, in a short-hand version of speech. This primary relationship reinforces short blurts. No wonder. I watched V have difficulty expressing herself to her mom in many of the same ways she struggles with me. Got it. And I saw the authenticity with which J’s mom listened to her and responded with honesty. Yes, her insightfulness in our classroom is no accident.
I admired the way that so many of my students were very honest about their reading lives. And many of them shared that although they didn’t share a lot in whole group discussions, they would if some of the louder voices could leave some room for the quiet ones. I didn’t realize that, although it sounds obvious. Started working on that this past week. Step up-step back (thanks Janet and Susan!)… softer voices step up, louder ones take a step back. Let’s see how many more we can hear from. It is going to take time, but it was a good start.
The end of this week brought the sour-note-parent and I together again, and it was the polar opposite of our previous encounter. We had a chance to talk and focus on the child and her progress, and it was a beautiful half hour. What changed? I couldn’t tell you. But I think grace was present. It is often about grace, isn’t it?