Dear Harbor Families,
For years, I was in the teacher’s seat during parent teacher conferences. I spent hours preparing thoughts and materials to be able to thoughtfully represent and clearly articulate each child’s strengths and growth areas. When conference days finally arrived, I would wake up nervous. As I worked through the marathon of conversations, I settled into the routines of sharing student work, describing children’s academic and social/emotional learning, and coordinating with parents how we might better align home and school. And at the end of the day, I would collapse into bed, with a feeling of accomplishment that I had led an essential conversation about the students I cared so much about.
I remember clearly the moment that I sat in the parent seat for the very first time. And though I was excited to learn about what the teacher would say, I found that I was nervous again, but for different reasons! What would we learn about our daughter that we didn’t already know? What areas of growth would the teacher highlight? And even... in what ways did our parenting prepare her for preschool, and how did we fall short? Once we started talking, the discussion was helpful and productive, and I opened up to important insights and understandings about her development that I didn’t necessarily have access to without that essential conversation.
Then, throughout that first year of preschool, Emily went through a lot. She was diagnosed with a serious autoimmune disease that challenged all of us as a family to the core, which meant that she was out of school for a while, and when she returned, she would go for just a few hours at a time as her strength allowed - eventually working her way back to full days. Her three year old body was weak and fatigued, and she was on high doses of medication which caused changes in her body and her mood. It was intense.
Suddenly, our relationship with Emily’s teacher was not the least bit formal. We were in constant communication about her day to day progress throughout those months. Over time, we communicated less regularly but always with a certain familiarity. Her teacher was our partner, in the truest sense of the word.
Fast forward almost six years, and Emily is a healthy and happy third grader at Harbor, and her brother Jude is in Kindergarten. Bill and I have partnered regularly with the teachers (always with my “parent hat” firmly in place), and the parent teacher conversation is something we look forward to as a way to align our home experiences with school and to further understand our children’s learning strengths and needs. For our family, this has included the process of identifying and supporting a dyslexia diagnosis, with ongoing conversations and coordination of support resources - and a true and consistent partnership with the teachers at Harbor throughout the past four years.
So, here’s to further developing ease and purpose in your relationships and conversations with your child’s teachers! After all, we are all in this together - with the common and very important goal of supporting our children’s growth and learning.
I wish you all a productive and meaningful parent teacher conference!
Head of School
The Harbor School