I am taking a different approach to Parent Night this year. Instead of preparing some talking points to be sure that I do not leave out some critical piece of information, rehearsing in my head what I will say, and printing out handouts so that I have something to give to the parents, I am blogging.
So, I should blog about what to say, right? There is so much discussion of content v. skills, 20th century (or even 19th century) learning v. 21st century learning that I thought about tackling those issues with the parents. The problem is that I am still working my way through that, and I do not think that the ten minutes I am allotted for each class tonight would be able to do anything but open the conversation. I could always rely on reciting the list of curriculum units and watch the eyes glaze over as I speak. After all, many of these parents have had days that are at least as long as mine, if not longer, and I get to be active at least.
I have a bit of an advantage being an alum. People often ask me what has changed about the school and what is the same. Maybe that is what I should talk about. I learned how to craft an analytical argument, express myself, and wrestle with challenging ideas. I have been doing those things ever since. I learned how to jump in and try something new, to take risks, something that is becoming increasingly part and parcel of my job. I learned how to value every human being and feel empathy for others. I believe those things remain part of the learning. What has changed is that I believe the barriers between teachers and students have gotten lower. We are not always on the same side of the fence, but at least we can see over it and talk. Students seek out and value conversations with teachers, and there are casual exchanges in the hallways all the time. This is an improvement and an opportunity. We have the opportunity to know our students better and serve them better as teachers because they let us. I am not sure why it is different; I just know that it is.
In the end, I will likely spend a few minutes sharing the curriculum. I plan to talk about the skills we will be working on most this year also. I might let them in on some cool collaboration and connections I am planning with the outside world, even though they are not set in stone. Then, I think I will tell them how lucky I feel to be teaching in a school that has kept so much of what was important to me, and added more to it. Can I do all of that in ten minutes? Maybe I should just direct them to my blog.