A Thanksgiving Tale

It’s really easy for me to get wrapped around the axel over lack of parental support in a school where poverty is pervasive. I’ve had 3 teacher assistant team meetings for one child so far this year. The parent never attends and never responds to the meeting invitations. This parent continually writes nasty notes about me, the school, and the classroom. My frustration over no-shows for meetings to remedy this, to conference about the student’s progress, or anything else that might involve a little parental effort is only exceeded by the daily interruptions to our afternoon to change a dismissal routine (and I know routine as applied to this student is an oxymoron). This is only 1 story in this classroom.  The other 21 can be just as interesting.

Or not. Yesterday offered a glimmer of hope that by inviting parents in, we can forge a working relationship to benefit students.

My class has just finished writing our small moment narratives and we put each students’ writing into a book which we “published”. Yesterday, the half-day before Thanksgiving break, students invited a parent or loved one in to read our inaugural book, to be complimented on their contribution. Knowing some parents may not be able to leave work, I had prepared students whose parent might not be able to come that I, too, had been a working mom — and offered to be their parent for the celebration.  Being third graders, this of course led to some hilarious moments as classmates considered themselves “brothers” or “sisters” — if only for an hour.

But, back to the topic – getting frustrated with the status quo can lead to lowered expectations. Yesterday, however, helped me to realize that maybe I am focusing on the wrong things.  I met so many parents – sometimes both parents AND a grandparent – who were able to come, to hear their child read their thoughts and writing. One parent offered to help me pass out the apple juice we were offering, another stood in to read with a friend of her own child. And our school administration – Principal, Assistant Principal, and Literacy Specialist – all graciously read with each and every child in the room.

The energy, the enthusiasm was right there. It could not be missed. Something special transpired yesterday and not just for the students. On this Thanksgiving Day, I am thankful for the administrators who support me.

And I am most thankful for the parents of my students who are willing to share themselves and their child with me.

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