Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Role reversal... (SOLS)

You've been there; I've been there.  The sacred day that is filled to the brim and runs on such a tight schedule, a rambunctious toddler could use it as a trampoline. 

Parent-Teacher Conferences.

With the expectation that teachers meet with 100% of parents, I'd shake my downturned head each time my phone rang that day and doubly so with each voicemail sampling.

"I overslept.  Can we reschedule?" 
 (Eyeroll.  Blankly look at full scheduling sheet, contacting my inner-Houdini.)

"My husband/boyfriend/lover/friend has the car today. 
Can you come pick me up?"
(Eyeroll, coupled with an escaped and audible, "Really?  When?")

"I have a doctor's appointment today. 
Maybe I'll catch you next time."
(Maybe?  You're the parent I needed to talk to most today.)
"We're out of town. 
 We thought it was just a day off school." 
 (Is the mail folder not getting home each night?)

And, the ever popular:
"My car won't start.  'Guess I can't come in like I had planned.  I really wanted to though...I'm really into my child's education.  I value it.  We work together ALL THE TIME at home."  
(Uh-huh.  Today.  Yep.)

Admittedly, after awhile, I quit listening because my jaded 'teacher ears' clouded any pieces of truth present in these messages. 

2.19.2013 -- the date of my first conference on the other side of the table.  For the past week, I've thought about how I'll respond to the 'these-are-the-areas-for-growth' comments sandwiched between pleasantries and compliments.  Will I be the parent who bluntly offers, "Well, he does that at home.  I'm not sure why he won't do that for you at school."  Or, will I be the parent who says, "Thank you for all your hard work with my child at school.  He loves having you for a teacher.  We appreciate your time, effort, and feedback."

Well, for today, I won't know...because today, I'm the parent on the voicemail reel:

"Hello, Mrs. Clark?  Yes, it's Reid's mother.  This morning, my husband's car wouldn't start...and after a jump attempt and both of us working to push the Jeep out of the garage so it could be towed, he had to take my car to work.  I'm sad because I was really looking forward to talking with you today about his progress.  I'm hopeful we can reschedule sometime soon."

So, maybe, over the years I've become unfeeling with each passing message.  Maybe, there was truth in each plea for situational empathy.  Maybe, there was an individual or two who tried their darnest to make all the puzzle pieces fit together to protect the opportunity to meet with a teacher on conference day...because the child's education is of paramount importance.  Maybe, a phone call doesn't dilute the parents' assigned value of the work we do daily with students.  Maybe, just maybe...

I'm sitting here now and imagining myself the teacher.  With the extra 15 minutes, I may have fit in a bathroom break...or allowed some room for the preceding conference to run late...or started the next one early because the rest of the meetings are backtobacktobacktoback.  I may have reshuffled my paperwork stack, or tidied up the space, but one thing is for sure: I would've been thinking -- "These people don't seem like the type to cancel last-minute.  She's in education.  She knows."

And, she's right.  I do know.  But, today I feel too.

Write on,

(P.S. My OLW 2013 is refine... :))