I learned a valuable lesson when my children were young. I do not remember the speaker who said it, nor do I remember much of anything else he said. I do know that two words changed me as a parent.
Notice your child when he enters a room. Acknowledge him with a hello, a question, a compliment. Non-threatening. Kind. Seems rather simple, doesn’t it? I remember thinking: “Sure, I can do that. no big deal.”
Oh, but it is — a very big deal. It’s a big deal to the child who grows in confidence, knowing we are intently aware of him as a person — an individual who matters when he walks in the room.
While i’ve been thinking and writing about conferring with students, I’ve done a lot of thinking about what it means to notice, really notice, the students in my charge. Do I take the time to speak to every student individually? What about my body language — am I open and approachable? How about eye contact — am I making it?
Last week I collected my students’ writer’s notebooks. Marked with a sticky note for me to read and scrawled on the back of one student’s writing territories was an entry that gave me pause and broke my heart. It said something like: “I remember asking my grandma about why my mother left. All she would say was that my mom said she could always have other children.”
Just that morning I’d been short with this student for not completing yet another assignment. I bit out a plea to get the work done without once considering why she’d not done it. I made it about the assignment instead of about my learner. Sadly, I do this often and have to continually remind myself of what matters.
Noticing the girl with the dark brooding eyes matters.
And once again I vow to be better than I’ve been.
[student writing used with permission]
©Amy Rasmussen, 2011 – 2015
Tagged: AP English, Conferring, student conferences, teacher reflection
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