Another One From the Sick Room: Wonderful Dreaded Parent Teacher Conferences

another sick

These will be happening in my school in just over a month. I actually quite like them. Still, these meetings that sometimes get me riled up, today, have me calming down over a cup of Tension Tamer Tea because there’s NO SCHOOL. (Thanks MLK)…and…I am offering ANOTHER Eleanor Roosevelt Quote. This time it’s not on a Tampon box. More like on a Juicy Juice carton from Subway, “Eat Fresh.”  By the time I am done with my decaf organic tea, and you are done with your cup of coffee, you will think me the CYNIC.  I am going for Lovable, Readable Cynic actually.

There it was:

“It is not fair to ask of others what you are not willing to do yourself.”

I am convinced this is a version of the Golden Rule, a spin-off of the second commandment, “Love Your Neighbor, As Yourself.” not to be confused with the Second Amendment which talks about guns, and bearing arms, and shooting people. These are actually, exact contradictions of each other.  Profound.

I think George Washington said, “A free people ought…to be armed.” (I have two of these ARMS, and they are not semi automatic.)  Occassionally I raise them in a PLC meeting, or at the end of a school day in Charleton Heston form.  “Let my people go!” jk More like “Don’t miss the bus! I’m going to swim team practice.” Yes.  I raise my arms in diving and swimming.  That’s all.  Shoot!  No.  Don’t shoot! Actually I deploy my arms in hugs and good works. 🙂

I have heard my boss say many times, “It is not fair to ask of others what you are not willing to do yourself.”  I like this.  I believe this.  She does too.

Actually she doesn’t just believe it, she lives it. I like this.  She walks the walk and talks the talk like a true teacher, and like Jesus. She is a former, no current teacher turned media specialist, turned Administrator/Special ed. Director. She also wears lots of other hats: Counselor, Child Confidante, Drawing Instructor, Playground Monitor, Crossing Guard, Morning Announcer & Riddler to name a few. I think maybe she has an insider’s connection with Eleanor Roosevelt. Dunno if she is quite “that spiritual” in reaching through the veil. She does however, quietly and gracefully resonate the Golden Rule as she carries out a Reconstruction of education in our building and district.

I’m sure this quote came from Eleanor Roosevelt! Or maybe this came from the original Franklin Covey Planner. Or from a Webinar on “How to be a Highly Effective Administrator,” or from a PLC Convention, or from some secret “Deep Implementation” strand sequestered in a Utah State Office of Education filing cabinet or computer.  Shhh.

Perhaps it originated in a Secret Sage Hotline call recorded by none other than the fashionable T-shirt wearing J. Chappell. Or perhaps she stepped away from the phone to get ice, or to deliver a message.  If you got the automated message, then: “Press 0, if you called to complain or need this in another language. Press #1 if you are a VALUED PARENT, Press #2, if you are with a public school, or if you sell pencils. Press #3, if you are affiliated with a private or charter school and are wanting public educaton to be “the odd duck out.” Press #4, “For Money,” if you are a vendor, or are in collections.  Press #5, if you are with Valley Mental Health, or Law Enforcement, or KSL 5 News and you are wondering if we are well,  safe, or have a story. Press #6, if you are in any other category, including DFS, having a sixth senth about something, or if you are posing as Latin Peggy. Also, If #6, please leave your wise Latin words in a brief voice mail after the beep. If you are still on the line by now, I am sooooooo sorry. Lo siento. Ba-ye.

Okay, that got out of hand. At a closer reading, and tweaking, the Roosevelt quote might appear cloak and dagger, stealthy as a sneak football play on Monday Night football. If I tell a football story in class, I have the best response from my boys, in instant, improved listening and learning. They also like it when I play basketball with them.

“Practice what you preach” and other fine points can best be found on the free throw line, the football field, and in upright teaching as well.  It exists in the business world, and in statistics. In a flow chart or color graph. Sometimes in a cloze passage. Fill in the blanked y blanks. jk. Even on Core Tests.  Ahhh!  However, in it’s most stripped down form, it is nothing more than MOTIVATION, and CAUSE AND EFFECT. A lovely mathematical function:

If you do this thing, then why shouldn’t you expect other people to do the thing too?

Sometimes it works. We churn out the results we are wanting. Doesn’t always work, but it is the best we have. This assumes first of all, that work will occur and does occur, that it is good work, and that the work will subsequently continue in active sharing and doing. See, after realization of the value of it, someone else adopts the thing, tests it out, and models it as well. It is called PRODUCTION. In theory, if you plant good seeds, you yield good fruit. Easy as pie. Right? Okay, I think I have just become lost in philosophy, and need some concrete examples. Don’t have any. There are just too many HUMAN and KID factors in play here. So grasping for straws, I will turn from science to religion. Oh, G**! HELP ME!

I am reminded of a scripture. Not sure where it is found, but it goes something like this, “But first obtain the word, before you share it.” Okay. I have done this, and…… not done this at the same time in my life. What I am saying is I pick and choose the parts I like from the parts I don’t like, and go from there. Both in learning, and in teaching.  Okay.  I’m found out.  This is a bad habit that most of us have and keep like a skin tag. 🙂

In order to feel our schools are better “passing” and teachers are indeed becoming more “highly qualified” we are given collaboration models and guiding questions. All of this to ensure that the Administrator is also doing his/her “best job.” No. Really it is to provide an equal and appropriate and best education to all students as required by law R something, something, something, that I once knew.

#1 What do we want all children to learn? This is the first of four guiding questions that surface in the creation of Professional Learning Teams. Principal principles. From my vast U of Phoenix archives, I pull from a Rhetoric file: Points of content, philosophy and pedagogy. Exciting stuff. Keep my job stuff. Iron out my rolled, and yellowing Cracker Jack Diploma stuff.

*We want students to learn Common Core Content. *How do we do this? We teach it. Yes, IT IS FLAWED. The content and the teaching. Everything and everyone is. Our school has adopted curriculum in Reading Street, and My Math to help guide teachers in delivering content. In many cases teachers have been given too much to teach, and too little time, training, or expertise to know how to effectively deliver it all. And a whole lot of interruption, and behavior to manage. Wow. We try in spite of our favorite golden calves, and limitations. We are asked to teach with “fidelity” and “rigor.” Huh? My point exactly. And then we SMILE.

Again, WHAT DO WE WANT STUDENTS TO BE ABLE TO DO? I know the answer…la la la la la la. However, I think I WILL ask parents this question before and after I show them the examples of Sage Test questions coming down the pipe.

I will also definitely SHOW what their child is doing well, how they are succeeding. TELL where growth needs to better occur. Then I will ASK the parents for help. First, and foremost, I will articulate how much I LOVE their child. This is TRUE. It is the truest thing I can and will tell them, in spite of my own foibles and all of OUR failings, not just teacher ones.  This is the biggest reason why I am a teacher, and why I keep being one: LOVE.

I will avoid mentioning my failings. I will dance around the the student’s failings, and the parent’s failings are pretty well assumed.  I don’t do this, but some teachers do. Sad, these assumptions. I will cheer when we can all smile and applaud the good that is happening in our classroom and at home. Above all, though, the student is and will be the most important. Then, I will silently for many moments, hours, and part of my weekend of blessed recovery, recommit in my heart to do a better job in teaching. This is how my mind works. I am tough on myself.

So yes. I hope this holds some MERRIT, in spite of politics, and talk of pay or no pay, with or without steps and ladders, and OSHA rules to keep us safe from these sometimes icy steps, invisible ladders and too many overloaded extension chords (coaching). I will not get much help in all of this. I will spend hours and weekends preparing for Parent Teacher Conferences. And in the end I will end up holding my own ladder for myself. Where did I set that thing?! Still, I will stand firm on each rung in my belief that I will ALWUZ be the million dollar teacher both in my succeeding and in my falling short.

I might even quote Eleanor Roosevelt at some point in conversing with parents with more RIGOR:

“It is not fair to ask of others what you are not willing to do yourself.”

This might get parents thinking toward change. Changing themselves and changing their students. It will move them toward lip service any way. Some will ACT for a day or two.

In a moment of vulnerability I may even entertain strange thoughts. I can’t help but wonder if any teacher has ever tried to escape a Parent Teacher Conference?  You know strategize an egress when a meeting has become excessively tense and uncomfortable. Make a pact with the Principal perhaps. Or if not to that exteme, excuse herself to go to the bathroom mid sentence. Then stall in there. (Get it?) I wonder if parents would eventually just leave, or if they would go looking. Hey, I have students who do this Houdini escape act every school day. When something get’s too difficult, they run away, evade the problem. Yep. Teachers are smart…..and they know ALL the tricks. I like to remind my students of this thing occasionally.

OR… I could just plea the quote like Miranda in tough cop form:

“It is not fair to ask of others what you are not willing to do yourself.” Why don’t you tell me why you were’nt reading with your child on the night of said Jan.3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th…”

Nahhhh! More like plea the 5th and BE KIND. I think I won’t say this Eleanor Roosevelt  thing. But, maybe my student’s misdirected misbehavior could actually inspire me, or solve a problem. I don’t think I will find out. I want to keep my job and a few public friends. Besides, I’m all about facing FEARS. I will just do what all teachers do. Hold my apple beer until a no show and then pee under pressure to keep to the schedule. Ha ha. This could easily find form in another e-mail from the Sick Room.  Shower etiquette is sounding better and better.


About hrobertson2013

“Each man ( and mermaid) will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land”. Isa 32:2 NIV Warning: The author of this blog is not an ordinary individual. Even Mermaids need a rest from all that's real and grown up. Welcome to the wonder of blog. Come be audience to all that's wet and wild in her stories, poems and thoughts. Instructor by day, super hero by night, and mystical mermaid by summer. Whenever she has the fortune of diving into a pond, reservoir, or mountain waterfall, you'll find her there swimming, and singing songs of life.
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2 Responses to Another One From the Sick Room: Wonderful Dreaded Parent Teacher Conferences

  1. nina luz says:

    “It is not fair to ask of others what you are not willing to do yourself.” Invert the terms, though, and it becomes almost akin to tyranny…

  2. hrobertson2013 says:

    Hm. It’s not fair to ask of yourself what others are not willing to do? Okay, you are right, little light. So I choose between painting myself the martyr or the saint? How do I paint myself the hero while self preserving? I could always quit the teaching job and open a gyro shop. These are delicious, I think. Ha ha, this food stuff originates in 1970s New York City, or traditionally in Turkey? Here’s the thing, whether I dish it out, or I take it in, I am still seen as the turkey in the public eye. All the while expected to “give thanks.” Grobble grobble, gobble gobble. Proud to be an American teacher? Yes and no. I wish the public and politicians knew what teaching is really like. Who knows what heros I’ll quietly churn out over time and never know it. I live and endure for the “Promised Land.” C.S. Lewis spoke of longing. He also lived in the Shadowlands.

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