One Sunflower

face to face

on December 6, 2009

On Friday I had the last of my parent/teacher conferences.  It was scheduled at 3:30 in the afternoon meaning that my aide (and translator) were staying late to accomodate this appointment.  I was a little worried it would be a no-show.   But at 3:40 the twins’ mom came hurrying down the hall fresh from her work in the potpourri warehouse.  She was bundled to the teeth, it has been extremely cold lately, and she explained that there is no heat in the room where she works.

We sat comfortably on the futon sofa in my room and after a quick greeting she asked urgently, “Are the boys being well-behaved?”  Her question reminded me that parents are often worried that the reason for our conference is that their child is having problems at school.  Usually I have time to explain the purpose of our meeting which is to share the results of our earliest assessments, to explain the current work happening in the classroom and the unique objectives we are working on with their child.  The conferences are scheduled so there is enough time to have real conversation, answer questions, and share personal perspectives and concerns.

The most rewarding part of these conferences is being able to demonstrate my relationship and appreciation for each child and family.   There is a point in every conference when the parents look at me with a light of new understanding; the information I am sharing coincides with what they already know about their child.  This understanding allows us to form a unique relationship where I am able to communicate my appreciation for their involvement and desire to create a better future for their child.

One third of my conferences included the father of the family.  One dad told me about how proud he was of his son’s curiosity about the world.  He spoke about taking his son on trips out to the field where they counted and compared the produce.  Another dad spoke about his concern that his son not have the same difficulties he had growing up and how he worries about being a good example.  I felt tears prick in my eyes as I shared how impressed I’ve been to see him at every conference and family activity, he is already setting a good example with these efforts.  His humble, “thank you,” spoke volumes to me.  It isn’t just the child that this conference is about.

check out other art by Nathalie Parenteau

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