Rose Neal, the director of Living Wisdom School in Beaverton, reflects here on the parent/teacher conferences that are happening now at the school.
We hold parent/teacher conferences at our school twice a year. This process happens at many schools and it is an effective way to connect with parents, share what is happening in the classroom related to their child and focus on the potential for growth and development of that child. Our teachers are thoughtful in presenting a holistic perspective of each student that focuses on a child’s strengths and tunes into their challenges.
I overheard an interesting conversation between several teachers that illustrates subtleties that are focused on at our school. One teacher asked another about the progress a student was making as we approach the 8th week of school. The second teacher replied that overall it is a positive year for this student, but she doesn’t appear to be “expanding” yet. “After all, isn’t that what it is about?” the teacher added.
This was so intriguing to me. “Expanding” is a word that is hard to define in terms of human consciousness but when you feel it personally or watch another person in that state, it makes perfect sense. When our minds and hearts are open and growth is supported by the stimulation of our intellect, the challenging of our willpower or acting in ways that include others’ happiness in our own, we can expand.
What does this look like in a child? A LWS student? Do you see this child trying something new? Do they have interests that offer fresh ideas in the classroom or in conversation? Are they solution-oriented or problem-oriented? What is their eagerness-to-learn quotient? Are they forming relationships with children outside of their regular circle of friends? Are they open to new experiences? Are they challenging themselves?
We want to know that we are supporting the highest expression of a child’s nature. These questions are meant to guide us is assessing one layer of a student’s progress. They aren’t meant to focus on shortcomings or categorize how they fall on any chart. By tuning into this concept of “expanding” we are encouraging positive growth in the direction of maturity. And “maturity” (defined by J. Donald Walters as “the ability to relate appropriately to other realities than one’s own”) is where we are all are striving to be.