“Progressive schools are characterized bywhat I like to call a ‘working with’ rather thana ‘doing to’ model.” This statement from a 2008 article highlights one of the key principles of Bixby School, a principle that applies as much to our relationships with families as it does to the relationships with and among students. Collaboration between teachers and families is something that can always be improved, and I reflect frequently on how to do so. The upcoming parent/teacher conferences are, in my opinion, a bright spot in our landscape of opportunities for collaboration. Our purpose for these conferences is simple: (i) foster partnership and trust with families, (ii) learn about each child at home, and (iii) engage families to share 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 in communicating about these conferences may have communicated a different purpose. This parent made me aware that a question about a parent’s “goals” for their child communicated an expectation that we may be focused upon rigid or generalized benchmarks or milestones. To the contrary, our “goal” is to be in partnership with you as parents and with each student as a human on this earth whom we have the great pleasure to know. In service of that goal, these conferences are designed to hear from parents – what are you hearing at home? What do you see that might help us to form a more holistic understanding of your child and what do you value and attend to about their experience? All of these are incredibly helpful to us as they inform how we partner with and support each family. I would like to believe that we get to see much of who each child is at school but also know that as humans we exist often in contexts and that understanding those contexts is an important piece of the whole picture. Parenting is an uncertain and sometimes daunting responsibility. As a consequence it is natural to seek external affirmation that we are doing a good job, and that our kids are and will be okay. However, as a school we work to avoid using external markers for who our children are. I have faith in the wisdom of who our children are already, and the wisdom of simply listening and observing as the most valuable information 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