I attended my first parent/teacher evening at the school that I think H will be attending.
I had emailed the school the day before to ask if I could attend, and was told absolutely yes! I was invited to check out the four grade 2/3 classrooms, meet the teachers, and stay for the 7:30pm introduction and talk from the principal.
As I pulled up to the school just before 7pm, there was a line of cars all vying for the scarce parking spaces. I managed to find the last one in the row, and noticed the three cars behind me having to pull out onto the road again and try the other entrance.
Parents and children were filing out of their cars and into the school through the front doors. I followed suit.
Once inside I again followed the sea of people to the right and hoped for the best.
Looking for rooms 1, 2, 3, and 5.
Room 1 was at the bottom of the stairs and to my right, I peeked my head in the doorway and saw parents milling around all waiting their turn to talk to the teacher who I presumed was the tall lady at the front of the room talking quietly with a mom and dad duo.
Not wanting to stand around in a classroom filled with children’s names, designated chairs and artwork, I decided to move on and seek out room 2.
Room 2 was a copy of room 1, parents milling around, each looking a little awkward and disjointed standing amongst finger paintings and miniature tables.
On to room 3 – same scenario. I kept walking.
On my way past room 4 to the end of the hallway where room 5 was situated I wondered what I was doing there, amongst all these parents with children who are actually at the school.
I also wondered how I would fill in the next 30 minutes before the Principal’s talk, I did really want to meet her and see what she had to say.
My idea was to breeze past room 5 (which I presumed would be a carbon copy of rooms 1, 2, and 3) and head to the book fair to at least fill in my time looking at books – I do love and adore books. No matter the target ages or genres.
I found the room 5 entrance right at the end of the hallway to my left. I walked through the doorway and into the little entry foyer, and peeked my head around the corner.
The teacher saw me, motioned me to come in and join them, and handed me a one page print out explaining who she was, what they were learning, and her philosophy on teaching.
All of the parents in the room were sitting quietly attentive to her words behind the miniature desks on the little chairs and it was a completely different scenario to the other three – more unstructured – rooms.
Each of the parents gave me a smile and a nod or tilt of the head in welcome, and then turned their attention back to the teacher to see what else she had to say.
I took the handout and took a seat at the back of the room.
She continued talking, she was covering the first point on her list. Math. She explained that this was the new math teaching style, and then showed us what she meant on the blackboard (with chalk – who knew chalk was still used? I thought whiteboards killed the chalkboard star!).
It went something like this:
She explained that this sort of math logic is something that most of us do automatically when we are adding numbers, and because of this it is now being taught this way – as another way to quickly pick up math.
She encouraged all the parents in the room to play these “math games” of breaking numbers down and finding a different way to make the same answer. Even asking a child how many ways can you add to 20 with three numbers, with four numbers, etc…
Every parent in the room was attentive to what she was saying. No one was looking awkward or uncomfortable, other than their large frames in the miniature chairs (!), some were nodding their approval or understanding.
Any questions? She asked… No one had one so she moved on to the next point on her list.
Reading. Away she went talking about how she prefers kids to choose a book that they know they can read, and encourages them to do it. She wants them to find their joy in reading, and be able to pick up a book and get lost in it.
Her words nearly made me gasp with delight… this is a woman after my own heart. That’s exactly what I want too for all kids – and all adults. I feel for those people who don’t enjoy to read, who never gained a passion for reading a story and getting lost in it.
But then again some people feel for me who doesn’t find a thrill in downhill mountain biking, so we all have our thing. I get that too. I just cant imagine a life without stories!
She talked about ways in which parents could work with their children and help guide them to an enjoyment of reading. She talked about ways to encourage our children to read, and to ensure we praise them for any effort. She also mentioned that reading to them is essential to developing a love of stories. “Read books at their level that they can read themselves so they will follow along, and read books beyond their level so that they can just sink in and enjoy the story.”
She also mentioned that proper punctuation and grammar was important to her – and I fell more in love with her.
She moved to the next point on her list, and the next, and the next, there were actually 7 points on her list. Then she talked about the excursions she has planned, the out of school lessons – like swimming and skating and cross country skiing – and again she asked again, “does anyone have questions.”
This group of parents was so “in the zone” with her, that one dad – bless his heart – put his hand up! He had a question.
This was a teacher who loved what she was doing, she was so passionate, so vibrant, and so demonstrative, that she had a room full of parents at attention to the point where someone who had a question raised his hand.
I really hope H gets to be in this class.
It may not have been as colourful as the other three classrooms I’d passed, not plastered in children’s paintings and other assortments, it was much more understated. It still had all of the books and tools and posters on the wall talking about respect and friendship and support of each other, just not like a colour wheel had exploded.
She also had pictures on the wall that said “Sometimes I feel…” and then had pictures of happy, excited, friendly, social, sad, angry, frustrated, guilty, hurt, sick, etc… with animated drawings of what those emotions might look like. I didn’t see these in the other classrooms.
What she had most though was passion and structure.
Two great qualities in a teacher, and two qualities that I know H will need in a teacher. Someone calm, authoritative, structured, but also passionate and compassionate and who really loves teaching.
She had talked a little about herself and had said outright that she loves her job, (absolutely apparent to everyone there) and one of the most rewarding things was finding a way to unlock that curiosity and passion for learning in every child. She talked about finding a way to build their confidence by helping them find easy successes and then allowing them to decide when they’re ready to reach for more.
“It always works,” she told us, “once a child knows they can succeed at one level the excitement of conquering the next level takes hold, they will move forward, they won’t stand still, but they need confidence in themselves, support from those around them, and a love of learning.”
I left before she asked me who my child was – I didn’t want to explain in front of all the other parents. But I was smitten with this teacher. I believe she will be amazing for H and I want to get her into this class.
On my way back down the hall I poked my head in all three of the other classrooms and still there were parents milling around waiting for a moment with the teacher. Not wrong by any means, I would say this was the complete norm in this situation, nothing out of the ordinary.
For my child, if I can make it happen, I want her to experience the extraordinary!
I headed to the gym for the Principal’s assembly talk. She introduced the teaching staff and the PAC chair, talked a little about the direction for the school – and schooling in general in this area, and then we were done.
After her talk I introduced myself and she was delighted I’d come. The school secretary had let her know I would be coming and she welcomed me and invited me to come to the school at any time to meet with her and discuss H’s future with the school. She assured me that they had room and that they would find the best fit for her.
I hope that is true and that she will agree that Mrs. F in Room 5 is that best fit!
My visit to the school finished at the book fair, where I spent a good 30 minutes looking at all of the books and buying one I felt I would like to read to H (a.k.a one I want to read myself! 🙂 ), I didn’t buy early readers for her as I don’t know what she already has and didn’t want to double up.
When I was leaving the school the music/dance/drama teacher was out front and we chatted for a moment. She explained that every child in the school gets 100 minutes a week of singing/dance/drama lessons!
More and more, this felt like a good school to me, and a good fit for H.
It’s funny how things sometimes come together. I’m glad I went to the parent/teacher evening to experience a little of what the school is about. Also glad I got to see those teachers in action and know who I’d like to request for my girl.
All of this because I called my previous roommate (and landlord) and asked him if he knew of anyone in his complex wanting to rent/sell, he told me HE was thinking about renting his place! He said he’d love to talk more but would feel comfortable renting to me. “Might be the perfect solution for us both,” he said… Amen to that!
His complex is right next door to the school. Literally, the fence of the school is also the bordering fence of the townhouse complex! A 60 second walk from doorway to doorway.
He has been thinking of moving out for a while and renting the whole place (previously he just rented out the spare rooms), but will have to figure out where to move (in with his girlfriend, maybe back to Ontario to be with his aging family). He will let me know at the end of the weekend – Thanksgiving weekend in Canada – if he’s ready to make this move.
Keep your fingers and toes crossed for me! It would be the perfect solution!
Life is amazing!
Warm smiles and Love,
Ali Jayne 🙂