The coming week marks a sad farewell in my life. It's my final set of teachers' meetings after 20 years of dashing from classroom to commons in an attempt to touch base with every educator who was touching the lives of my four children.
A host of sessions pop into my mind. They didn't always go smoothly. One teacher decried my child's classwork while he was sitting next to me (close to tears) until I pointed out that she had missed a line on her grade sheet and was talking about the child directly below him. A teacher in another school district actually told me she didn't like another son from the first day of school, but figured out she was wrong to feel that way. (I'm still at a loss as why I needed to know that.)
As far as low points go, that's about all I can can recall. Just as our students go to school every day, parents should go to school twice a year to touch base with the teachers, explain any problems and work together with the teachers to help their children learn.
Teachers' meetings grew in importance as my children grew in independence. The first session I had with a kindergarten teacher was just as important as the last ones I'm about to have at the high school. Without teachers, I wouldn't know until report card time that a child had developed spring fever and simply wasn't turning in the work - even though the completed tasks were dwelling in his back pack. I wouldn't have known how much his teachers loved the child who wasn't a star student. I wouldn't have heard about how another child stepped in to help a new kid who was having trouble adjusting to school.
We feed them, clothe them, love them and send them off to school. In the beginning, it feels wrong that we can't go to school with them. What isn't so readily obvious until the schooling is just about done is that by forging a relationship with their teachers, we are in school with them every day.
So many good things have come from teachers' meetings. With one child who was slacking I entered a conspiracy with his teachers who all reported via postcard he was failing and if his grades weren't improved, he'd have to repeat classes next year. He woke up before it was too late.
During another meeting a different child was soundly praised, except that he tended to speak out in class before his name was called. What the teacher didn't know was how shy this child had been when he'd first started school. His willingness to speak up when he knew the answer became something to celebrate and learn to moderate instead of being viewed as just an irritating habit.
I have left every round of teachers meetings with one overwhelming impression: I"m not doing such a bad job after all, and I'm not doing this alone. Joining forces with our children's teachers can only help the kids.
As I look at the three children who have become adults, I see a combination of both parents' sense of humor and a unique blend of our physical characteristics. But I also see so much that was given to them by their teachers - sticking to a problem until it's solved, staying on task and putting their feelings into words are just a few of the gifts they received from teachers.
Since parents and teachers raising our children together, it makes sense that we should meet. Whether your student is in elementary, middle or high school, their teachers are waiting to talk. We have 13 years in which our opinions are valued and our help is needed as our children are educated. We should relish the opportunity.
As I prepare for my final round of teachers' meetings, here's a thank you to every teacher with whom I've met. Thanks to your help, we've done good.
"Home Front" by Terry Murry is published every other Sunday. She can be reached at email@example.com.