The Day the Parents Conferred

It's a mixed bag. It always has been and always will be. Parent-teacher conferences never cease to amaze me with the variety of conversational depth and spice.

I plan the sign-up and get the student work ready. I scratch out an agenda and get the classroom cozy. And then real life happens, and things rarely go as I planned.

Younger sibblings mess up the room, parents cry, I grab the wrong notebook, somebody shows up late. Sometimes some parents surprise you with lunch, or tell you how much their daughter loves your class, or retell a conversation about how excited their son was about a book we read. A mixed bag.

Some discussions don't end well. Parents don't have all the answers, and I certainly don't have all the answers.

Although I have some expertise in elementary education, I am far from an expert on a particular child. I see them for a few hours a day in one particular context. I don't know a child's ins and outs like a parent does. Shame on me for even assuming. I truly wish I could help more.

I usually end the day feeling exhasuted and a little disappointed. Disappointed mostly in myself. I get hung up on all of the things I could and should be doing. Sometimes I end up frustrated about my perceived lack of dedication to my job. I so often dwell on weaknesses and struggles, instead of the strengths and triumphs. Our educational culture can be deadly like that.

Those are the times I have to take a step back and get a hold of myself. I'd pretty much do anything for my students. But, I can't do everything.

It's so cliché, but I'm not Superman. No teacher is. I'm not going to catch everyone. I'm not going to inspire everyone. I'm not going to get every student to 100% all the time. I have to stop holding myself to these inscrutably high standards. It's toxic. And arrogant.

Lord, help me to understand that I can't do it all. I can only give what I can to each student every day. That has to be enough. It just has to.

“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And that which I can do, by the grace of God, I will do.”
—Dwight L. Moody