My husband was out of town, I had a meeting or other event after school Monday - Thursday and we still made it through the week whole and complete :)
It is crazy hard to believe that in just two weeks, our first marking period is over! It's feeling a bit like crunch time for some of the students who realize they don't have much time left to get things turned in so turned in before grades are due.
My afternoon tutoring session tomorrow is packed! I've never had more than 2 kids in at a time and I think I have either 6 or 7 scheduled! That's a good thing because it means we can get these kids up to where they can be passing.
Last week we had conferences on Wednesday and Thursday and thus had Friday afternoon off in exchange for working those late nights.
Never in my 14 years of prior teaching experience have I felt so good and positive coming off of conferences. I know for an absolute fact this virtual teaching and learning situation is not ideal for my learners. Many of them are really struggling to stay on track, get their work done and stay focused. They get to the end of that third class and it feels like "wheeee, the afternoon is mine!" because they are young and forget they still have afternoon work to do. It's been rough on them and on me as I have to nag them often (I am kind about it, but firm because I do care about their success).
Being able to share with families at conferences is always interesting. You see a side of kids you usually don't get the benefit of seeing. This time it was really interesting as we were holding conferences virtually. I had a mom tell me she absolutely loves me because it's clear that I hold high expectations for myself and her son and she appreciates that. Made me feel super good as I have worked hard to build this relationship with this student.
On the second night, I had a mom who just didn't look happy when our call first began. She wasn't mad, to be clear. She looked defeated. At one point, very early in the conference, she said, "I just feel so sad and depressed. I don't know what I'm doing wrong."
And I interrupted and said, "whoa, hold up momma. Let me reassure you that you aren't doing anything wrong. First and foremost, you are attending this conference which tells me that you really care about and love your son. Secondly, please know that this is my job, it is my passion and life's work. This is what I do, I teach students to read and enjoy books. If I can take that burden off of your shoulders, please let me. Because it will NOT be a burden for me. It's your job to love [student name] and it's my job to teach him and I'm happy to take that responsibility."
I helped mom get him all signed up for tutoring (and he's one coming in tomorrow!) and by the end of that 10 minute conversation, it was like I was talking to a whole different person. Mom was smiling and looked like a huge weight had been lifted off of her.
At the risk of sounding egotistical, I know I am a good teacher. I have years of positive evaluations and feedback from families to back that up. However, never before in my life have I come away from conferences feeling like several of these families needed me this year. Several even commented that I'm not like the other teachers their sons have had (I say sons only because all of the parents who mentioned it have sons that I work with). I told one mom that I was an elementary teacher for 13 years and she snapped her fingers and said, "that's it! That's what makes you different. You really care."
To be fair, no one (including me) is implying my colleagues don't care. But I have always worked with kids in trauma and I was one myself. I get it on a level that many people do not. I know this situation really sucks for a lot of the kids and their families. If I can ease that burden even a little by being positive, taking their (virtual) hand and walking across the street with them, by golly I will. And if this helps some of these boys, most of whom have well fallen through the cracks before now, finally realize what success can feel like, then I also will.
I'm so grateful that this shift in position fell into my lap this year because on the daily I am affirmed that this is really the position I am needed in. If I can boost a child's confidence and make them realize that I am there for them and will bend over backward to help them be successful, then it is my pleasure to do that.