Thursday, October 27, 2011

Stranger/Teachers and Parent Teacher Conferences

This past week, I had River's 3rd Grade fall parent teacher conference. The world of public school has been a little concerning to me. At no other time do I hand my child off to virtual strangers and in a building that I'm granted access in only with permission. And while we have benefited greatly from the expertise of her school teachers, as a parent, it is so difficult to imagine that a stranger gets to spend 8 hours a day with my child. That person is to be considered trustworthy because the school district says so. No wonder so many parents become "helicopter parents" in this structure, just trying to stay connected to their child's life and protect them in an environment that is as unknown for the parent as it is for the child.

That's why I love parent/teacher conferences. It's one of the few times a year that, as a parent, I'm invited into my child's little world of school and given a glimpse at who she is when she isn't with me.The teacher is still a stranger to me, though, I've heard about her everyday for weeks. I'm the expert on my child and she is the expert on education, and, somewhere we are suppose to find common ground to help my child both in and out of the classroom. You got to admit, it's daunting for parents and teachers!

However, this stranger/teacher, the one person that spends lots of time with my child than I do, gave me some real insights into the life of my child. It wasn't the academic success and concerns that were the most insightful to me. It was the spiritual ones. As we talked about work ethic, friendliness, concern for others, respect to authority, and desire to learn, I remembered that many of these traits are those of a child of God. I couldn't help but think about Galatians 5:22, "but the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control". I asked myself some key questions:
1) In this secular environment, are the fruits of His spirit evident in my child?
2) Where is she falling short that I can reinforce at home through study of His Word, prayer for her tender heart, and even my example of showing these fruits in situations that I may be struggling in as well?
3) Does she stand apart from her classmates on worldly issues as in Romans 12:2, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind? If not, what needs to change?

Parents, you will be meeting with your child's teachers throughout the year. Reflect, through prayer,  on what your teacher tells you about your child. Ask God to show you how to parent your child not just for academic success but for a life that is "holy and pleasing to God". If you begin to sense your child is spiritually off-course, take action! Pray without ceasing. Then, make changes! Change your priorities, change what your child is exposed to, or help your child change the bad habits that are beginning to form.

Teachers, remember you are a stranger/teacher to a good number of parents as well! Remember this when you meet with the parent. Remember the parent is nervous about giving their child into your loving and capable hands.Pray for each child and that God will give you a word of blessing that a parent can take hold of and use to shape their child's life, not just academically but spiritually as well. You don't have to share your spiritual life with parents to do this. It is fully possible by just remembering that each of these children are a child of God and you are being given a small role in their life and then speak from the heart.

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