A Crisis of Conference

I never thought I would be one of those mothers - the ones who doubt, dismiss, disbelieve, when a teacher reports less than desirable behavior in her child, the mothers who assume that her child’s faltering performance at school stems from the school “not doing enough” or a problematic teacher. But then, I had never really been tested.

Sitting in a recent parent teacher conference, learning about my third child’s “learning differences,” I was surprised by my own reaction. Despite a careful, kind and well mannered delivery, the message somehow sounded like, “all of the other 1st graders sit quietly at their desks reading chapter books, while your child swings from the light fixtures, and barely writes his own name.”

Battling mounting anxiety and defensive thoughts like “their expectations are just too high” I managed to listen and ask questions. I could see where and how my child might need some support. In the end, the teachers and I pulled through this “crisis of conference,” had a civilized discussion and put a plan in place to help my flagging student.

Yet, I emerged humbled – not by the fact that one of my children will need tutoring, but more than a little surprised to find myself susceptible to the kind of defensiveness that can undermine an effective parent teacher relationship. I like to think of myself as a cooperative and open-minded person, not someone who would deny the existence of a problem.

In the end, I suppose I am lucky. Lucky, that good manners and good will prevailed, allowing us to proceed forward and do what is best for this child, whom I love so much.

4 comments:

Allison said...

Having just recently been in many conferences of this kind, I am proud of you for handling it with grace. These things are emotional and I, for one, have been bowled over by how emotional this experience has been for me. I'll admit tears and despairing comments, but knowing that everyone is actually trying to find the best solution for my child carries me through.

EHP said...

Thanks, Allison ... That's exactly what I mean! I was so surprised at how emotional and non-rational my initial reaction was. ...Makes you realize how hard all these conferences are for the teachers to deal with, doesn't it?

Kate said...

Wo wouldn't automatically feel her anxiety level shoot up and be put on the defensive? You are a teacher's dream in that you recognized this and put it aside to really hear what the teacher was saying. Better to do this early on in the game than later! And I, too, have one of those boys who swings from the chandeliers. The term I keep hearing over and over is "impulsive." No amount of tutoring can help that!

Allison said...

Too true. I am planning to bring the teachers flowers next week! :)

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