Featured Post: Working With Your Child’s Teacher

Jennifer Wolfe global education classroom

Are you a parent of school age children? Do you wonder how to approach your child’s teacher to work with them?

Are you a teacher, wishing you could give parents some advice on how to create a positive relationship?

Or perhaps your children have finished school, and you have some words of wisdom to share?

I’m both a parent and a teacher, and I really believe in the proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.”  I’ve seen the magic that can happen when schools and families take a team approach to education-it’s transformative!

It Takes a Village

So when Voiceboks, the online community for parents, asked me to write a featured post, I thought this would be a perfect idea – tips for parents who want to work with schools in a productive way.

Please click over to read my original featured article on Voiceboks – “Creating a Productive Working Relationship With Your Child’s Teacher”.  I’d love to hear strategies you use to make school a “win-win-win” situation for everyone – parents, students and teachers.

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Unlocking Her Personal Code For College

13 1 Lily lake

It’s February….the sun is shining, the flowers are blooming, the birds are chirping, and…the mailbox is overflowing with college recruitment letters?

Her weeks are spent in a juggling act between school, skiing, and a social life.  Training on snow four days a week requires discipline and dedication, not to mention time management.  Student first, athlete next.Wait – how can this be? She’s only a junior! She doesn’t even know what she wants to be when she grows up!

13 2 L and Dilara

I’m proud of her.

It wouldn’t be so bad if they were letters actually recruiting her-offering her money, I mean. These full-color mailers are an advertiser’s best effort to capture everything good about their college-and to make it personal.She’s working towards her future, but the mail is getting ridiculous.

She took the SAT in October, and now we’re inundated with offers from the east coast, the mid west, the northwest, and even some more ‘local’ California schools. All the flyers boast offers of a ‘personal code’ that is sure to provide prospective students with the persuasive elements to convince them that this school is the one.  Even when the prospective student has no clue?She’s our oldest, so this is all new territory for us.  I’m a teacher-I know all about admissions: test scores, application essays, and a-g requirements. Last fall we enrolled her in an SAT prep class-that’s something we never did back when I was in high school. Twice a week she went to an SAT tutor who helped her with test preparation, study skills-you name it.  Kind of like the endless other self-help type of classes designed to get kids ready for life after graduation. Our plan was to have her take the SAT first before ski season, then again afterwards.

I remember feeling that way.  I was more focused on completing high school than enrolling in college; I simply couldn’t see that far into my future.  It took me a few years, a few failures, quite a few part-time jobs, and changing majors multiple times.  How can a seventeen-year-old possibly know what they want to do with their life?

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Sadly, the college stakes are much higher now. Kids need to have a plan. They need to have a strategy. It’s not enough to just muddle your way through high school and expect that there will be a multitude of colleges opening their doors to you.

Right now, all I can do is encourage her.  Make good choices. Study hard. Think about what you like, what you’re curious about, what gets you excited about getting up in the morning.  I’m pretty sure that’s how I chose my college and my ultimate major, English.I wish I knew what to say to her. I wish I knew how to help her see all the options she has in life. I don’t want to be the mom that plans out her kids’ lives by filling out their college applications and holding their hand until….that’s the problem. It never ends.

I can do all that, and keep a box with all the personal codes that may help her unlock her future.  Once she gets off the snow, of course.

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Tolkien, Time, and Why Does It Go So Fast?

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

J.R.R. Tolkien

The Fellowship of the Ring

Observatories always have scared me a little bit.  I’m not sure why, other than my extreme childhood motion sickness that kicked in every time the stars and planets swirled around overhead.  I much prefer the real thing.  Laying on my back on a wooden dock, looking up at the meteor shower, or watching the sunset from my upstairs window, or witnessing the dawn over the ridge of the Sierras creates much more meaning than seeing the entire universe spin before my eyes.

It’s all about time, though.  Stretching my brain big enough to encompass the billions and billions of years our solar system has existed simply exhausts and terrifies me.  I was born in the 60s, a time of revolution. A time of possibility.  A time of purpose.

So today, in the 21st century, how is it that the exact same number of seconds, minutes and hours that every human has possessed, the precise amount of time, does not constantly fill me with possibility,  purpose. or revolution – instead of panic?

Live in the moment. Seize the day. Live every day like it is your last.

I’ve heard them all.  We are all busy, busy people. We all have a new day every 24 hours to use as we see fit.

So why is it that my day, which starts well before dawn, never seems long enough? Is that why I’m always running a e message in my mind?  Slow down, focus, be in the present, there will be time for that later…

I wish it was as simple as Tolkien said.

Nicaragua Lily and Cameron

I wish all I had to decide was what to do with the time that is given us.  I wish that such a simple decision wasn’t so complicated.

I’m great at it in the classroom. I maximize every single second. I don’t believe in wasting one minute of the 55 I get with my students each day.

When the school day ends, and I start my second job at home, I feel the same way.  The afternoons and evenings are jam packed with chores, homework, lessons, and a bit of reading, writing, cooking, and the occasional chess game.

Weekends- November to April are in the snow.

Summers? Travel, camps, gardening, and catching up on the neglected issues from the school year.

I wish every second I have could be frozen, duplicated, or held in my heart. I am acutely, painfully aware that the time with my daughter at home is rushing by. My son is on the cusp of all that is good and terrifying about adolescence.  It’s  not really as simple as Tolkien says.

I tick the hours by; days turn into weeks, then months. Then years.  Suddenly, it’s been nearly 18.

Time is more precious now than ever.

Someday soon, I will have more time than I can imagine.  Endless hours to decide what to do.

Just not who I want to spend it with.

 

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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9_11 started as an ordinary day

9/11: It Started Like Any Ordinary Day

9/11: It started like any ordinary day.  After maternity leave, I’m still getting the hang of getting out of the house on time each morning. I’m up early enough to have some ‘me’ time – 5:30 a.m. – before the pitter patter of my 23 month old boy’s feet signal the start of mommy-time.  Must plan Cameron’s birthday party for next weekend, I think. Coffee made, candles lit, I start up the desktop as part of my morning ritual, eager to check email and read the news.   Having children broke us of our TV news habit when we realized they were transfixed with images of stark reality we were trying so desperately to shelter them from.
A breaking news alert flashes into my inbox – “Plane crashes into building in New York.”  Hmm.  I’ve never been to New York.  Worlds away from my cozy study.  I hope it’s nothing serious.
Pitter patter pitter patter…here comes my boy, blankie and book in hand.  My heart thrills at the sight of his big round head.  “Make sister juice,” he chimes with a smile as big as any Cheshire cat.  I switch off the computer, eager to start the morning snuggle and reading time.  It is just another ordinary day.
The 11 mile commute to school is nothing unusual.  I drive past the harvested tomato fields, crop dusters skim the highway.  Lesson plans fill my mind.  Exit right, then left, then straight down the walnut tree shrouded road towards Douglass Junior High, where my 7th grade English students stand lined up, waiting for me.
“Hey, did you hear about the plane crash?” they shout as I open the door.
“Yes, I did,” I answer, and switch on the lights.  “Let’s get started.”
“But, can’t we watch the TV?  I have an aunt that lives in New York, and I’m worried,” a child pleads.
“TV?  When do we ever watch TV in class?” I respond with a smile.   ‘Let’s get started – it’s grammar day-everyone’s favorite!”
Moments later, an announcement is delivered by a TA telling us the grim news.  Not one plane crash, now it’s two.  What???  The Pentagon?  Three planes?  Buildings collapsed?  People dying?  But it’s just an ordinary day!
Why don’t I have my cell phone?  This ancient classroom has no Internet; the only technology is the old TV mounted in the corner of the classroom.  Where are my babies? Did Lily make it to kindergarten?  What the hell is going on? I want to go home…
Thoughts flash through my head as I try to process what to do.  Thirty sets of eyes stare at me, searching for comfort.  I’m the teacher.  I’m in charge.  I know what to do?  Frantic thoughts of my own children race through my mind.  Are they OK?  What will happen to us?  Are the terrorists on their way?
Then I realize-someone is taking care of my children, just as I’m taking care of someone elses.  I know what to do.  They need me to make sense of it.  That’s what I would want my child’s teacher to do.  Reluctantly, yet desperately, I turn on the TV.  I have to know. I can’t wait all day.
After two hours, no word from my family, I switch it off.  Business as usual – that’s what educators do.  Keep them calm, keep them busy.  I know it’s only going to get worse, and it’s only 10 a.m.
Two more hours and I’m done.  As I jump in my little gold Escort wagon, I’ve never been so relieved to only work part time.  11 miles fly by-not enough time to decide how to explain the unexplainable to my 5 year old.  The radio news drones on and on.  Thousands dead.  The children.  The mommies and daddies who will never commute home again.  The parents who will never see their babies again.  The young people who will never have the joy of holding their child in their arms.  It’s more than I can bear.  The tears stream down my face as I safely reach home.  It’s clearly not just an ordinary day.
‘Mommy, why are you sad?  What happened at school today?” Lily whispers, her big blue eyes boring into mine.  How do I answer?  She’s only five.  Far too young to have to learn about such horrors. I tell her a story about a plane crashing and good guys trying to stop the bad guys. “Did the bad guy go to jail?” she questions.

“No, he died,” I reply, choking back tears at her innocence.

“I’m sorry he died, Mommy.  But I’m glad that we weren’t on that plane.”
“Me too, baby.  Me, too.”  I realize it may never be an ordinary day again.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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