There’s something really special about watching parents and their children at conferences. The moms and dads and aunties and uncles and grandparents want the best for their babies. Kindergarten conferences are special. The parents haven’t done it before. They might have older siblings, and the parents might not be new entirely to the school thing. But watching the parents of a Kindergartener listen to how their baby is doing and hearing that they are “normal,” is is pretty much the best thing they can hear. Every kiddo does “normal” things, so this is something I make sure to impart to all the parents. “You’re doing a great job. This kid is a peach.”
They want their babies to grow and to behave and to be a friend and to learn. Their hearts are close to breaking worrying that their baby is not a success. Some parents needs to hear it over and over from me, the recognition of their child’s uniqueness, and some parents need validation that life with this kid can be challenging.
Doing two days of conferences and preparing for them is a lot of work, and I get really tired. But they are truly one of my favorite things. I love talking to families and meeting the other siblings and parents I might not have had the chance to talk to. I had a daddy tell his son quite forcefully but so tenderly kind last night, “when this woman talks to you it’s just like me talking to you.” He gave his kiddo a bit of a lecture, and the kiddo said “yes sir.” I have to admit-I loved that. The parents obviously adore their child and want him to be a success, and the kid has my heart wrapped around his finger.
I love children and families and I’m so glad I get to do what I do. Sometimes I wish I could go back in time with the mindful growth I did this spring and summer and give last year’s class some more emotional support. But I see them in 1st grade just rocking it and it makes my heart happy. The district approved 3 first grade classes instead of 2, and that decision alone has made 1st grade manageable for the teachers. This fills me with happy, too. There are a lot of friends in 1st grade that have a lot of needs emotionally, and now they can be more supported.
Having fewer students in class is the single most vital choice a district can make. It’s no joke having a class of 28+ students. I have colleagues that have taught 3rd grade with 38 students. I would never last. I cannot imagine trying to reach each child in an environment like that. Just imagine you are a parent to 38. You would probably even forget their names. It’s chaos and insanity to do that to teachers and children, but it happens all over this country.
Something else that is filling me with joy is my connection to children in the building through my pet bearded dragon, Dino. I have an agreement with several other teachers that they can send their student down (if they earn it, or if they need the emotional break) to my classroom to hang out with Dino. Dino is so chill, and it is really sweet to see kids melt with him.