“Progressive schools are characterized bywhat I like to call a ‘working with’ rather thana ‘doing to’ model.” This statement from a2008 article highlights one of the keyprinciples of Bixby School, a principle thatapplies as much to our relationships withfamilies as it does to the relationships withand among students. Collaboration betweenteachers and families is something that canalways be improved, and I reflect frequentlyon how to do so. The upcomingparent/teacher conferences are, in myopinion, a bright spot in our landscape ofopportunities for collaboration. Our purposefor these conferences is simple: (i) fosterpartnership and trust with families, (ii) learn about each child at home, and (iii) engage families toshare information about their student life outside of Bixby.
An exchange with a parent earlier this week made me aware of how the language I was using incommunicating about these conferences may have communicated a different purpose. Thisparent made me aware that a question about a parent’s “goals” for their child communicated anexpectation that we may be focused upon rigid or generalized benchmarks or milestones. To thecontrary, our “goal” is to be in partnership with you as parents and with each student as a humanon this earth whom we have the great pleasure to know. In service of that goal, theseconferences are designed to hear from parents – what are you hearing at home? what do you seethat might help us to form a more holistic understanding of your child and what do you value andattend to about their experience? All of these are incredibly helpful to us as they inform how wepartner with and support each family. I would like to believe that we get to see much of who eachchild is at school but also know that as humans we exist often in contexts and that understandingthose contexts is an important piece of the whole picture. Parenting is an uncertain andsometimes daunting responsibility. As a consequence it is natural to seek external affirmationthat we are doing a good job, and that our kids are and will be okay. However, as a school wework to avoid using external markers for who our children are. I have faith in the wisdom of whoour children are already, and the wisdom of simply listening and observing as the most valuableinformation and guidance for our role in their lives.
Thank you for entrusting us to be partners with you in your child’s journey.
“None of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love,and together we can do something wonderful.” – Mother Teresa
Head of School