Last night was Open House at my eldest’s school. Armed with his middle school schedule, I mimicked his day through 10-minute classes, with 4 minutes between. Each of the teachers gave a presentation, ranging from topics they’ll cover to their teaching philosophies. Going into the evening, I wondered about the teachers’ impressions of my son and tried to reconcile his class descriptions of the teachers with the professionals before me. I was prepared for the usual Intro To My Class type talks, but I came away with so much more. Three teachers made particularly strong impressions.
My son starts his day with a high energy force of nature, Mr. G. Balancing in a wobbly-legged desk while taking in the presentation, I was struck by Mr. G’s enthusiasm and couldn’t help but see why he is so popular. Take a can of pop, shake it up, and let it rip – that’s the kind of energy Mr. G brings to school.
But he was more than energy. In his note to the parents, he touched on differentiated learning; that is, that different students learn differently. And in his talk, he gave examples of noticing students’ engagement, or lack thereof, and of how he head-on challenges them to work harder, to expand their abilities.
From Mr. G I took the lesson that I need to stay focused, and if I find myself losing focus, I need to use my energies to find create a new path toward my goal.
It’s impossible to speak of teacher Mrs. K and not say the word coach. Frankly, this fact made me a little nervous. Sure my kids have had, and do have, other teachers who are coaches, but the fact that coach is almost always used in connection with the name Mrs. K worried me a little. Would she be so much Coach that she’d lack at Teacher?
Once again I was in the presence of an energetic, organized person. Mrs. K’s energy is accompanied with smiles; the Os on her board were filled with smiley faces. Mrs. K shared with us the nuts & bolts, but then she moved into the good stuff: her expectations of the kids, not in her classroom but as people who will go on to live full lives. She stressed the importance – even in science – of being able to read well, write well, and speak well. She stressed well-roundedness and described projects the kids will create, which reach all the way to the White House.
From Mrs. K I took away that she is a teacher and a coach. It is possible to be multi-faceted: for me to integrate all the pieces of who I am.
Since my son had Mrs. S last year, I had an idea of what to expect when I sat down at a table in her classroom. I was ready to be impressed beyond joy by her professionalism, knowledge, kindness, and respect. Sure enough, she delivered. She showed us how well our kids performed her last year, and then she raised the bar.
Mrs. S showed us how she’ll work with the kids do go broader and deeper. Once again I offered prayers of thanks for her.
And then she dropped the bomb. She’s going to help our kids fight perfectionism. I could have hugged her! Not only is she teaching academics and challenge and perseverance, but she’s teaching it within a very conscious framework of a healthy mindset.
From Mrs. S I took everything I love about learning and projects, about preparedness and composure… and grounding them in imperfect humanity.
Last night’s Open House was a walk down memory lane: bumping through the hallways of a bustling school; feeling geeky because no one else was carrying a notebook; and wondering what the teachers would think of me, though this time as a parent. It was a shot in the arm about my son’s education, chockfull of lessons for me. I’m grateful for these fine men and women who teach my son every day, and me along the way.