Posts Tagged ‘reaction’

So, I’ve been thinking about parent-teacher conferences lately. I’ve been doing this for a while so I’ve given my fair share of both good and not-so-good ones.

en union y libertad?
In reflecting on what I do well and not so well, I have been thinking that I give the kind of conference that I want to get as a parent. I feel like I am following the golden rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Often that works, but sometimes it doesn’t. The problem is it assumes both parties would want the same thing. (I’ve written about the dangers of assuming before.) What if I’m giving the type conference I would like to get, but not the type of conference that the parent in front of me wants? Now the golden rule starts to lose its golden glow.

We had a speaker at school several years ago who talked about just this idea. (I cannot remember his name or I would give credit. I will ask around.) He referred to the need for the platinum rule: Do unto others, as they would have you do unto them. I think this really applies to my situation.

I like to think that I fall in the happy middle between an “everything is rosy” and an “all your faults in your face” sort of person when it comes to conferences. I have two young kids myself and I have to say I question the teacher’s knowledge of my kids if it’s all hearts and rainbows. Don’t get me wrong—I have nice kids. They are also human, and I like to hear about them as such. It reassures me that the teacher knows them and, honestly, knows kids. My personal kids are so far very different as learners and we are already noticing how different their conferences are. However, they are still pretty young and there just isn’t a lot of academic pressure happening yet.

In my classroom, I work hard to develop a class climate that allows for us as a group to be relatively open about our minor struggles and the fact that there are things some of us have to work more on depending on who we are. It’s just the luck of the draw. By the time kids are 10, they know enough to know that I would be lying to suggest otherwise. I have found that students really respond well to this message. I often see the relief on their faces when I say out loud that it doesn’t seem fair that you sometimes or a lot of times have to work harder than someone else, but that it might be true. Finally someone is saying what they have been noticing. It’s very validating for many. This means that before we start a writing assignment I remind everyone about run-on sentences and I very obviously make eye contact and smile at the prime offenders. It means that as we are working on math I might call across the room and ask someone if he or she is being neat since we all are aware that this is an issue for this person. I keep it to that level of “issues” but I just find it so much better for everyone than being secretive about it.

All this is to say that I am giving a conference that comes out of that context—me as a parent and teacher. However, when the parents come into the room for the conference, I have to remember that they are foreigners, no matter their place of birth. They haven’t been with us developing this common culture; they haven’t witnessed their child being part of this open learning community. And, they may not want the same things out of a conference that I do.  The vast majority of the time, I think it’s been a pretty good fit, but not always.

Time to upgrade to platinum.

(Photo by Paula Rey used under Creative Commons share-alike license)


So, I’ve been thinking about conferences.

We had our “spring” parent-teacher conferences a few weeks ago. I say “spring” because it was weeks ago and the temperature is still in the 40’s this week, but I digress. One of the pieces of work I shared with parents was the most recent essay each of my students had written. This meant parents saw the planning sheet/graphic organizer that their student filled in, my comments on it, the first draft, my comments on that, and the final draft. All but the planning was completed in school. For most students we focused on the final draft and changes that were made between drafts.  For many students this essay was easily the best work to date.

On the Great Barrier Reef
For one student in particular in not only represented the best thing written this year, but exponential growth. This was not a “good for so-and-so” essay, it was good, period. The student wrote the essay in a reasonable amount of time and made significant edits after reading my comments. I was so proud for this student, and excited to share this with the parents. However, the parents were not that excited. They breezed on by it. I tried again to stress the independence, the change from earlier in the year, the original ideas. No luck.

To be fair, we had many things to discuss, but I couldn’t help feeling they missed a chance to tell their child how impressive this work was. That made me wonder if I had been too impressed. I started to second-guess my response. Was I wearing  my rose-colored glasses again?

I sent the essay to the student’s teacher from last year and the learning coordinator who also is familiar with the student’s work. This time, I got the reaction I wanted, or maybe somehow needed. They were impressed.

Sometimes we all need some validation.

(Creative Commons flickr photo by Paul Holloway)

Reflecting on Reflecting

Posted: August 23, 2010 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

So, I’ve been thinking about my own thinking, reflecting on my reflecting as it were.

I am not a speedy reflector as it turns out. I read other bloggers’ reflections on conferences, articles, news. Sometimes it seems folks have finished reflecting and written about an event that is only moments old. In some ways I’m amazed at how quickly others seem to digest and form thoughts. In another way I often wonder if that first post is more a reaction than a reflection, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Both are valid of course. And, I wonder if it matters by what name we refer to them. Is it just semantics? I kind of think not.

So, I think I will try to call a spade a spade, a reaction a reaction, a reflection a reflection.

What does that mean? Well, it means that this is not going to be the place to find the fastest thinking on what I read, see, teach, think. Or, if it is quick, I’ll tell you it’s my first reaction. I can reflect just fine, but I prefer to throw ideas and new information in my head and let it all roll around a while. I think about it, talk about it a little, sneak up on some new ideas while I’m sleeping or in the shower. My first reaction is usually just a starting point and rarely where I end up. It also means I am going to have to believe what I just wrote, not get discouraged when I have not yet posted about something right away, finish my reflection process, and write when I get to the end.

I have already not written about a couple of unconferences/symposium because it seemed “after the fact” by the time I was ready to post. Maybe I’ll try to write a quick reaction right away, just to get going, and then a more complete reflection later.

What I am wondering is, how long does it take other people to reflect and digest?