As a classroom teacher, I was told that parent conferences could be stressful. At times, perhaps, that can be true but I never viewed them negatively. How could that be? I looked forward to meeting the parents or guardians of my students and was excited to share the work that I was doing. I am enthusiastic about “everything Spanish” and could not wait to foster that love in my charges and their families. I want others to share the adrenaline and feel the way that I do. I have many Latino friends and have often said, “Soy hispana de corazón” (“In my heart, I am Hispanic”).
Parents and teachers share common goals. I will never forget the mother of a young girl in my second grade bilingual class who told her daughter in Spanish: “La maestra es la segunda madre” (“The teacher is the second mom”). She had incredible respect for education and for the teachers who worked with her child. I learned that it was important for me to see her as a partner in her child’s learning. I realized how eager parents were for their children to learn in a stimulating environment. At times parents can seem worried, nervous, and quite demanding of a teacher’s time. They want immediate feedback and often their children are not eager to give it to them. When asked how the school day transpired, children may shrug and answer in monosyllables.
It is the teacher’s role to bridge the gaps between home and school. Parents can support the teacher by sharing background information, expressing particular worries or concerns, and being sure that their children have the materials that they need in the classroom as well as a quiet, organized area in which to work at home. Together as allies, parents and teachers can work effectively to support students and give them room to work, thrive, and grow.
It is a joy for me to facilitate learning and to expose students to many new concepts or situations. As a lifelong learner, I feel that I learn as much from my students as they do from me. There is always something new to explore. I view my parents as partners. Together we can accomplish a great deal.
Parents often worry that their children will be lost in the shuffle. My goal is to show parents how this is not true and convince them that I value their opinions and their concerns. Together we can achieve the positive goals that we set. We can create conscientious, diligent, and empathetic learners as well as learn from each other.
By Stephanie Fein, Private Tutor