Today, my mind was busy ticking away. I had a meeting with a parent about one of my students. The topic was lack of motivation and the ability to self-start when it comes to seat work. It is the norm to lead the conversation with some positives about the student. I did that...
Then we got to the nitty-gritty of the matter. This student of mine can read at a level well above 1st grade and we can have a verbal discussion of any story. When it comes to written comprehension, that is a whole different game!
This student doesn't do ANY work. Always off task, makes the other reading group members wait, blurting out, and just generally being inconsiderate of others.
I worded all this in a very parent friendly manner. We weren't but 15 minutes into the meeting when she broke down into tears and accused me and the student's general education teacher of "beating her down". She said that if she felt this way from just talking to us for a little bit, imagine how her child feels. Then, she commenced to storm out of the room... Uh, yeah, this grown a$$ woman storms out of a P/T conference in tears.
Trust me when I say this kiddo is a very apathetic person. The student's feeling weren't hurt a bit by our conversation! Watching the mom burst out into tears didn't change the way this student behaved in reading block today one bit!
So, I really felt badly for this mom. I sat down and composed a letter to apologize for making her feel the way she did and to give ideas about how we can get her child to do more written comprehension. I gave it to the principal to look over and offer her suggestions.
In this letter, I expressed compassion for her situation and related it to my struggles with Andrew and his academics. In the very last line, I wrote, "I see the potential for greatness-but the motivation isn't there."
The principal talked to the mom and I guess paraphrased what I had written. The mom told the principal that she thought her son was already great the way he was. And that was what bugged me ALL DAY!
This mother, who I've known and talked with regularly throughout the school year, thought I had implied that her child wasn't great! She totally didn't get what I was trying to say.
There is a HUGE difference between great and greatness! Great (adj.) - the characteristics that make you who you are i.e. funny, smart, nice, polite, attractive, positive, etc. Greatness (noun) - when a person takes their great characteristics and uses them to build someone else up, change the world, better themselves.
It doesn't matter how smart you are. If you don't choose to use that intelligence to make a difference, you are not trying to achieve greatness!
I am a funny, charismatic, smart, person. I choose to continue to education myself so that I can educate the minds of our future. I am on the path to achieving greatness... I'm doing something that makes me a better person and helps students realize their potential and believe in themselves.
As a teacher, I have to be honest with parents about the academic level of their children. As a parent, it is your job to know your child. The things a teacher tells you at a P/T conference shouldn't be surprising.
If your child gets a witch of a teacher like me, I hold them accountable for the things they do and I expect them to grow as a person. So, when I tell you that your child has the potential for greatness, I am in NO way saying that your child isn't great! I am saying that you child isn't using those great qualities to the best of their ability. Please, don't storm out of the classroom in tears. Instead, start generating some ideas of ways we can turn this frown upside down!
Sometimes, the parents make it so very hard for the children to learn and grow as a person. You need to let go, people! In one of my prior blogs, I mentioned that it makes my heart all warm and fuzzy to remember the innocent, sweet times my boys were little, but my heart becomes and inferno when I think of the men they will become! I welcome my children growing up. The growing up part is the best part. I rejoice in their independence and love to watch every facet of their personality fuse together to create someone who is destined for greatness...