Several years ago, when I was still teaching full-time, I gave a CBC Radio interview about Parent-Teacher Interviews. The purpose of the discussion was to prepare parents for meetings with their children's teachers. I remember encouraging parents to know what they want to discuss ahead of time, bring report cards with them, and get right to the point since time is of the essence in a 15 minute interview slot. I recall saying "Don't be nervous! The teacher is just as nervous about meeting with you."
I wish I had a tape of that interview now. I'm on the other side of the table. And it is a bit nerve-wracking. Both of my kids are amazing. They are kind, smart, funny, courteous — I am proud of them for so many reasons. But both of them have issues with staying on task. They struggle with getting work started right away, and with getting it finished on time. Incentives often work for Connor. If he knows he'll get something out of it, he'll get right to work and do a great job. But if there is any distraction or social stimulation to take his mind away from the task at hand, he completely forgets what he's doing. Janelle, on the other hand, just lives in her own little world. Her kindergarten teacher nicknamed her "Poky Little Puppy". Her grade one teacher in Fredericton affectionately refered to her as "Turtle". Janelle doesn't need an outside influence to distract her. There are plenty of distractions already living in her imagination, ready to lure her mind away from whatever assignment she is supposed to be completing. And despite many conversations with her teacher about it, I am at a loss to find a remedy for her lack of "self-motivation".
In Fredericton, it seemed that all my interactions with my children's teachers were positive. They found them charming and intelligent. Even when Connor was struggling with reading, his teachers were very encouraging, explaining that this was only temporary and one day it would all "click" for him. Janelle's teachers, while they did express frustration with her "pokiness", always said she was delightful and a joy to have in the class. I am hopeful that our meetings with the teachers this morning will be equally positive. But I am nervous. This side of the table is frought with far more emotion than I knew when I was a teacher who was not yet also a parent of a school-aged child. I wish I had my own encouraging radio interview to listen to as I prepare to meet with the teachers today. I think someday this experience will make me a much more sensitive and empathic teacher on Parent-Teacher Interview day. I can't wait until it's over!