My kids’ “Student Showcase” is the elementary equivalent of the ball dropping in New York City on New Year’s Eve. This night of fun at the school, like the crystal-clan, luminous ball, is the symbol of a year now in the rear view and a future that is filled with resolutions to start anew.
As I walked through the courtyard of the school tonight, at every turn my Good-Bad Dad senses were torn between proudly looking at kid-crafted artwork to feeling sad that my presence at the school was just as ghostly this year as the school year before.
This conflicted feeling leaves my “New School Resolutions” for next year absolutely clear to me.
I am resolving to participate more. I should not be a stranger to my kids’ teachers. The first few minutes of quarterly conferences should not be spent having to re-introduce ourselves.
Note that participating more does not mean wedging my way into the classroom all the time. I should be a more active extension of the classroom at home – collaborating with my kids’ homework, not simply checking it after the fact for completeness. I might even resolve to read their planners before blindly signing it each night to check the box.
Participating should have my kids’ artwork looking familiar.
I should be able to wrestle thirty minutes out of each month to have lunch with my little scholars.
Next year, I resolve to suggest solutions more frequently and complain about outcomes less often.
Tonight I was confronted head-on with the fact that although I’ve voiced disagreement about a number of issues at our kids’ school, I have not been part of a group that forges forward with an idea to help. This needs to change.
My last resolution is to offer real support to my kids’ teachers. The key word here is “real.”
I caught myself tonight twice telling teachers, “If you need anything, please do not hesitate to reach out.” Those comments were politely met with a grin and chuckle.
Those teachers really should have looked at me and said, “That would have been a nice gesture with more than 5 days left in the year.”
Offering such fake support is an admission of parental guilt.
The support I’m aiming for is not about going to conferences or sending the $10 Starbucks gift card at Christmas. I’m resolving to make sure that each of my kids’ teachers know that I have their back. This will be the case even if my little angel-of-a-daughter’s halo becomes rightfully tarnished.
Real support means equal accountability on all sides of success at school – teacher to my kids, from my children to their teacher, and from the school to home.
If I stand behind my kids’ teachers, tough issues are communicated faster, decisive actions are taken quicker and my kids’ successes become more visible in and out of the classroom.
Just as New Year’s Eve marks a time of renewed hope for most people, the last days of the school year provide a launching point for me to be a better supporter of my kids’ education.
My kids’ “Student Showcase” should not be my time to catch up on what exactly my kids have been up to during the year.
Instead, I resolve to using this night as a celebration of the completed, final draft of my kids’ school year memoirs.
I will be cherishing the fact that their books will be filled with stories that I helped proofread along the way.