I dreamt I stood
In a studio
And watched two sculptors there,
The clay they used
Was a young child’s mind
And they fashioned it with care.
One was a teacher
The tools he/she used
Were books and
Music and art;
One was a parent
With a guiding hand
and a gentle loving heart.
And when at last
Their work was done
They were proud of
What they had wrought
For the things they
Had worked into the child
Could never be
Sold or bought.
And each agreed he/she would have failed
If he/she had worked alone
For behind the parent
Stood the school
And behind the teacher
Stood the home.
-Cleo V. Swarat
For nearly twenty years now, each fall, I have shared this poem with the group of parents I am privileged to work with for that school year. Each fall as I reread this I choke back tears, as I comprehend the meaning of this poem. What grand jobs we have as teachers, and yet what more incredibly daunting roles we lead as parents.
Almost twelve years ago, I became a parent. Like most parents I know and talk to, never would I have guessed how my world would change. Even as an educator, the training and experience, the books and classes, nothing could have prepared me for this role. This little being is placed in our arms and not only are we solely responsible for providing their basic needs for survival, but we have become our children’s first and most important teachers.
As our children’s first and most important teachers we try our best to raise our children into responsible, respectful, fun loving, empathetic, and good citizens, all while providing engaging and worthwhile experiences to help foster a love of learning. When our children enter school we parents, must often reassess our roles in our child’s education.
Other factors begin to influence our child’s learning. There is now a need for us parents to learn how to best support our children at home with what they are learning at school and how to best communicate effectively with our children’s teacher in order to help our children succeed.
My hope as Executive Director of Clark Fork, our school can be much like the studio in the poem, where two sculptors (parents and teachers) work together in order to shape or facilitate the young child’s mind with them of course being a vital active participant in their own learning. I hope we can provide you parents in our community an opportunity to ask questions and receive answers on how to best support your learners at home. Through a true partnership we can help your child be successful.
Our partnership began the first day of school and kicked off when you attended the parent orientation nights. I read the book “I Wish You More” and you all created wishes for your child. Our partnership continues each and every day you bring your child well rested, well nourished, dressed for the weather, lunch packed, and ready for the day. And then again our partnership continues, when you communicate with the teacher about anything going on in your child’s life that the teacher needs to know. You then greet your child with a smile at the end of the day at pick up. On into the evening you give them love and affection, you ask them about their day, making sure there is a little play, maybe a little music, more play, and then dinner and family time, and of course you read to them before bed. You are truly a partner in your child’s learning journey and their lifelong teacher. How daunting… but oh, how incredible that you were chosen to have this role in your child’s life.
This week of goal setting conferences is another way you are showing this strong partnership. You and your child’s teacher will sit down together and think of the strengths of your child, discuss what you may want your child to work on both academically and socially and emotionally, and ways you can support your child at home as well as how the teacher can support your child at school. You will get a peek into the studio your child’s been learning in these first few months and add your important insight and more “wishes” in a way for your child.
As you prepare for this important time I ask you truly think deeply about your child- this little being that was placed in your arms not so long ago. Think deeply about those social and emotional goals which are so crucial to learn at a young age. Think deeply about what is important your child learns in academics right now. What are your child’s strengths? What does your child need to work on or want to work on? What growth do you want to see in your child this year? Ask your child what they want to work on as you prepare for this conference. This is a special time that you and your teacher have together to talk about your special one. Ask questions. Share strategies. And then create together these goals.
We are teaching our children from a young age how important this life skill of creating goals and then working toward them really is. This is a great time of year in general to think of goals for your child and yourself! Let’s be examples. How will you support your child this year? Will you make sure you sit down as a family for dinner each night? Will you read to your child every night- even though it is the same book over and over? Will you create some one on one time for each of you children? It can be a lot but just like we are teaching our children, we can model these goals we are making, work toward them, and how wonderful to have these conversations together.
I know as the Director of Clark Fork, the board and I have very clear goals for the 2018-2019 school year which are around financial stability, teacher retention, and internal programming (which includes a new parent education program created just for you- thank you to all of you who filled out the survey). We will do our best here at school to be the partner you need to help your child succeed by seeking out resources, communicating the latest research with you, and helping to meet the needs of your child.
One exciting new internal programming goal that you and your teacher (and child) will also be engaging in is our new documentation process. We are excited to announce that this year we will be piloting an e-portfolio process to communicate to you about your child’s goals and progress. The platform we will be using is Seesaw. We are hopeful this documentation tool will be giving you even more of a glimpse into the lives of your child’s learning journey at school and document the great growth they will make this year at Clark Fork School. There will be more to come on this incredible resource for parents, teachers, and students but please feel free to ask your child’s teacher about it at conferences. Much thought has gone into how we will document, the importance of having technology guidelines when documenting, and the evidence we will use in this innovative documentation of your child’s learning. We welcome your feedback throughout this pilot year.
This is an exciting time! There is so much to celebrate already with your child’s growth and so much more to come. I wish you an amazing week of goal setting conferences ahead as you truly partner with your child’s teacher and help set goals for your child.
And, when at last our work is done, let’s be proud of what we wrought, for behind the parent, stood the school, and behind the teacher stood the home.