Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)
I dislike parent teacher conferences.
Oh, I don’t dislike the idea. I really want to keep up with each family. But, the idea of spending hour after hour in fifteen minute meetings with parent after parent, just unnerves me. I have my agenda. They have theirs. Sometimes things are a bit tense.
I have had a few parent teacher conferences that left me feeling completely unglued. Whether it was parents accusing me of things that were totally untrue and not part of my character or parents telling me things that I wished they had told me weeks before, I was caught off guard. I felt like I was sitting on a precarious stool and someone came and kicked it out from underneath me.
One of the ways I deal with a “bad” conference now is to try to lean on God more than I lean on my own understanding. I still go through the guessing game. I still ask things like
- Why didn’t they come to me weeks ago? Was I too busy? Did I say something that made me unapproachable?
- Why does she think I’m not treating her daughter fairly? Am I, really?
- What could I have done differently to prevent this?
- What can I do now? Is that the best practice for this situation?
- How do other teachers handle something like this?
I think it’s only fair to the families, the students, and the school, to analyze the situation and deal with it. I’m not the kind of person that blows people off or dismisses their concerns. I want to be the best teacher I can be – every single year, every single day.
But, this is where I have to be a little careful, too. It’s not all about me and my understanding. I can’t just lean on my own thoughts and analysis. I go to other educators and ask questions. I use discretion, of course, not wanting to hurt reputations. I talk to my colleagues at my current school, some teacher friends, and do some internet searches. (Using discretion online is vital!)
I also lean on God. Yes, He’s given me my mind, reason, teaching abilities, and so on. Yes, He’s given me valued colleagues and a wealth of information online. But, most importantly, God has given me Himself. He comes to me through His Word and the Sacraments. If I’m not reading His Word, I might miss His messages. God also gives me Himself through His Son, Jesus. When Jesus died on the cross, he took all my sins with Him. I can ask for forgiveness from students or parents and know that Jesus has already granted it to me.
I know I’m not the perfect teacher. Even my best falls short sometimes. God works through me anyway.
Heavenly Father, thank you for giving me a gift for teaching. Help me to see ways to reach the students in my care. Help me to see what the parents need for their children. Help me communicate well and always be patient as You are always patient with me. Amen.