Confession: As a teacher, I fear parent-teacher conferences more now than I did as a student. To be fair, I’ve spoken with a lot of parents who feel similarly. Because when a teacher or parent requests a conference, something has usually already gone wrong. I’m not a fan of confrontation in general, and I worry that a conference will become a confrontation — and that I’m ill-equipped to confront.
Though this is starting to change, I’m still of an age where I’m mostly younger than the parents of my students. And regardless of absolute ages, parents of high school students still have more years of parenting experience than I do of teaching experience. I worry that parents will use my relative lack of years as a way to dismiss my voice and my concerns. Moreover, I worry that counselors, case managers, and administrators will respond to that dismissal by siding against me — though the latter has never actually happened.
With every conference, I’m gearing up for a worst-case scenario. Even if one hasn’t happened yet (for the most part), that doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen next.
This is maybe why I spent some time today in asanas to activate manipura, the solar plexus or navel chakra, which purportedly governs our will and assertiveness — qualities I definitely think I need when it comes to all the parent conferences we have lined up this week and next.
I’m not sure what it is about these meetings that make me want to fortify my willpower. Maybe I’m afraid a parent is going to enter the room looking for a way to blame events on various teachers (something I’ve witnessed only rarely). Maybe I’m afraid that a student is going to tell a wildly different story than what I know to be true, and the student’s untruth (or at least very biased truth) will be believed. (It has happened to me before in non-teaching contexts. It’s not so far-fetched in my mind.) And maybe I’m afraid that despite the best and kindest intentions of everyone involved, something in the meeting will reveal my teaching to be complete and utter shit — or at least, something that is incompatibly failing with a given student.
That, I think, would be the worst: recognizing that I’m in the wrong but too afraid of change to change it.
It’s probably no surprise that manipura is correlated both to ideas like “gut feelings” (knowing that a particular act is one’s will, regardless of the ability to explain why) and “guts” (the courage to carry out one’s will). It’s certainly no surprise to me that I routinely require extra cultivation of both.
So I hung out with abdominal work today — particularly a lot of supine core work, which lets me concentrate on how my abs are working instead of how my shoulders or wrists or feet feel. I lay back with it, quite literally, until it was intense hard word — and then I stuck with it just a bit more.
And may the Flying Spaghetti Monster smite me with his ladle of marinara if he did not inspire me to this adulteration of the serenity prayer:
[Insert deity, higher power, positive human attribute, or awesome superhero] grant me
the courage to accept the things I cannot change
the courage to change the things I can, and
the courage to admit the difference.
Because for me, those actions all stem from the same place.