Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Pro D A+

I just returned from the first of 4 Parent-Teacher conferences I have over the next two days.

And, as always, I am so impressed with the level of knowledge these teachers have not just about my child's academic progress but about WHO they are.  I (mostly) love hearing insights about their behaviour in the classroom, how happy and social and engaged they are as learners.  It's a joy and a relief to hear teachers say what lovely people they are.  

"We" are still a miserable failure in the homework on time / handed in /  done well department but I digress....this isn't about us...it's about them......which is sort of about us......

Let me explain.

At the last Teacher Professional Development Day at my kids school (also the school at which my husband is a Teacher) there was an elaborate plan hatched.

The teachers were handed a schedule as if they were a student.  They got a few minutes to study it and figure out where they had to be and when.

Then an announcement over the intercom came that switched the class order.......with just a minute or two until the first bell.

They rushed to get to their "class" where a teacher acting as a teacher gave a lesson.  Some "students" chose to be disruptive, others compliant and the teacher was to create some stress or other
 while teaching.

This was repeated in a couple of classes in the morning.

In the afternoon the teachers sat down to dialogue about this simulated student experience so they could better understand their students and their students experience of stress in the school, in the classroom.

There were discussions about the stress caused by the physical school layout and the time pressure of moving around. About the the stress when "rules" are not enforced fairly.  About different expectations from different teachers.  About the stress of being talked at, having information dumped on you without discussion and time to process it.

Tonight the teacher I met reflected how she noticed there were two "curricula" going on....the social one the students are dealing with (the person I have a crush on, the kid who makes rude remarks about me, the person annoying you biting their nails, the one on the phone under the desk) and then the curriculum the teacher is trying to teach in spite of and through all that other "stuff".  She reflected that this had caused her to think through how to connect with her students differently.

All this to say how deeply touched I was as a parent that the teachers in my kids school cared enough to even try and understand students and their stress, and even more they put themselves through some of that stress......and they really  DID feel the stress....it's still the chatter in the school.

And now as a staff team (of 60) they seek ways to help kids find balance,  encourage them to enjoy what school has to offer as well as getting the academics done.... committed to helping kids be successful in their school.  They had some education on how teenagers manifest their stress and they are watchful to spot those and support those kids as needed.

The strike earlier this year was utterly demoralizing and disheartening and most teachers are still stressed, still feeling like they are catching up, adapting their curriculum,  many are still in financial distress and working / learning conditions are no better and sometimes worse in schools (like the heat being turned off at 2:30pm to save money so teachers who work til 5pm are sitting in their coats by 4pm to stay warm as are the students they are working with....... over crowding, under funding, little help for ESL or Special needs...... same old same old rubbish)......SO very sad for them and for our kids.

It's a hot mess in SO many ways and yet.....and yet......the professionalism and commitment continue....because kids matter.

So to the people who teach my children which includes my husband....

THANK YOU.  THANK YOU.  THANK YOU.

And I promise to try and do better about staying on those kids about homework!

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