Friday, March 7, 2014

I've Got Your Back

Today I found myself meeting with my T/A students and their parents for the spring student-led conferences.  I hear there are more than a few teachers out there who dislike conference day.  I am not one of them.  The introvert in me prefers the small group discussion of an individual student's success and challenges during the past 6 months.  The conference serves as a reminder to myself that growth has been made even though it doesn't always look like it from my usual perch in front of the larger group.

Today's shining moment came by way of an older brother who was serving as an interpreter for his Spanish-speaking mother.  I listened with my eyes and ears as his mother spoke for a moment or two in a language that I have little knowledge of.  Listening to the words roll off her tongue I did my best to figure out any piece of what her message might be.  After all, it was in October that this same mother told me that her young son's father had recently deserted the family.  She worried that her young 6th grader was keeping too many emotions inside of him.  She wanted to make sure that everyone knew of his struggles as he grappled with his father telling him that he no longer wanted to be a part of his life.  Not surprisingly, by the time the interpreter finished translating the mother's words everyone at the table was in tears.

I've done my best to watch out for her son since that conversation.  He's a shy, polite young man who struggles in math.  Throughout the year I've made sure he had a book in his binder at all times and did what I could to push him into getting involved with the morning announcement team.  He's a kid I'll remember for quite some time.

As Mom's words came to a soft finish I turned my attention to the older brother.

"What she's saying," he started, "is that she's very glad he had you this year.  She's happy you were here to look after him."

The young 6th grader nodded in agreement.

"I'm glad I had you as well," I smiled.  "And just so you know, I'll be checking up on you next year too.  So you haven't quite gotten rid of me yet."


  1. I love conferences too. Ours are next week. One of the highlights of the year.

    Sounds like everyone was lucky in this group.

  2. Conferences are a great time to connect with our students' families. Sure, they are long days and we need to prepare lots of data, but it's worth it to hear such positive feedback from a parent.

  3. I love the "soft finish" line! They are lucky to have you.

  4. Parents have no idea how much those small compliments mean!

  5. This one got me a little teary-eyed, Mary. You make a difference in so many young lives!