By day I function as a spasmodic journalism teacher, intent on encouraging my students to change the world with their words. By night I throw on my writer’s cloak and hang out with adventurous characters who teeter on the edge of suspense and comedy.
Somewhere in between, I write my blog.
Lately the latter has been a challenge because I have been literally away from my computer. What time my laptop and I convene. I devote to the craft. I am polishing my novel before I send it to a potential agent.
But still…I miss being able to connect with my buds through my blog.
Tonight I will be busy meeting parents at our school’s annual parent-teacher conference. Even though I’m usually exhausted by the end of the evening, I look forward to meeting my students and their parents because I genuinely want to meet their needs.
But sometimes these conferences don’t always go as planned. Sometimes, try as we might, we teachers don’t always project the image we want to convey.
There’s always a little apprehension, as well as hopeful expectation, that every teacher feels on PTC night. We don’t want to leave a bad impression.
Being a Christian teacher in a public school sometimes complicates matters, especially when there are so many denominations and beliefs. I don’t want parents to think I’m overstepping my bounds. I don’t want them to think I’m pushing my beliefs or brainwashing their children just because I am who I am.
My goal is to teach and to reach. I try to live my faith through my acts of kindness. I don’t want to “turn off” my students because we don’t share the same faith. When God orchestrates my abilities to lead my students toward Him, I am pleased to be his vessel, his tool.
I guess you might say I am a Christian teacher, but my audience is the general market…I mean the children of the public school. I teach from a Christian worldview.
I remember one PTC night a few years ago. I spent hours cleaning my desks. I wore a nice professional outfit. I wanted to look my best. My dance card was full, and I had a long list of parents. I eyed the door nervously as I waited for my first visitor.
I don’t recall the name of my first parent, but she eyed me suspiciously even though I did my best to be as amiable and positive as possible.
The next parent and the next parent did the same. In fact, every parent was a repeat performance.
I was baffled.
I also couldn’t figure out why my co-worker repeatedly stuck his head in my door. He laughed and waved each time he walked by. I was a bit annoyed. I couldn’t concentrate on my conferences because I kept trying to figure out why he was harassing me.
By the end of the evening after all my parents had gone home, I figured out the source of my trouble. Above my head behind my back was a huge painting with words that read “Welcome to Hell.”
That painting was the first image all the parents saw when they walked in my room.
I guess I don’t have to explain how the painting got there. My laughing co-worker took it upon himself to help decorate by using a project one of his British literature students had painted. It was a tribute to Dante’s Inferno. He must have hung it on the wall while I was in the restroom. I don’t know how I missed it.
I can only imagine the perceptions of my visiting parents—all because my crazy co-worker “labeled” my classroom.
I guess that just goes to show that labels and images can change people’s perceptions even if they haven’t actually taken time to get to know the product—or the person.
Tonight I’ll be careful to portray a positive image. I have one goal in mind—to let my students and their parents know I really do care.
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