Day 47, Friday, November 14, 2008
Yesterday was conference day, a difficult day for most of the students but an enlightening and reassuring one for teachers and parents. My seven advisees sat with their parents and me in a patient, persevering way, but I’m sure they were feeling restive inside. No child wants to be the center of attention surrounded by earnest adults. However, for me it was a day of clarification. I discovered a little more about each of the students (and their parents), and also learned, in a circuitous way, some new things about teaching. Several parents made advantageous suggestions that will be helpful to me as the year goes on. I was a good listener, I think. I tried hard to pick up any hints that might make me a better teacher. Finally, I think the parents (most of them) left the conferences with some reassurance that their child was, indeed, making steady progress as students. We parents often despair of our children, imagining them failing in this subject and that and perhaps never becoming successful adults, and I was happy to be able to restore confidence in the parents of my young students. They are good boys and girls, I reminded them. All is well.
Today, in one of the 8th grade classes, we sat in our usual circle and looked through the students’ essay binders, reviewing the 7 formal writings they’ve done thus far. I asked them to select one fine sentence from each essay, and then each student read aloud at least one of their special sentences. It was pleasant, for sure, to quietly listen to the kids as they shared their writing. It was like a pause for a look back from a high hill after a hike up a steep trail. It was taking a breath and being glad about how much you’ve accomplished.