5 Oct
Posted in: parenting
By    Comments Off on Taking a Chance with School Involvement

Taking a Chance with School Involvement

Siblings showing their school backpacks

We’ve had children at the same elementary school for eight years. I’m comfortable with the staff. I have a good understanding of how things work, how I can be involved as a parent, and the best avenue to take when issues arise.

We’re in year two of middle school. I was more nervous for that first day of middle school last year than our son. I was clueless on what to expect from parking to volunteering to knowing teachers. I wanted to be involved, but didn’t know how to make that happen. Our school holds monthly parent lunches in the library. The administration and staff showcase students and their work along with giving more in-depth looks at classes in the three grade levels. These lunches helped me to feel like I was part of the process, and I appreciate them.

Fast forward to back-to-school night at middle school this year. The principal invited parents who were interested to help with reading conferences with students. I checked with our son for permission, because he’s a teen and that place is HIS place, and said I was interested in helping.

Here’s the thing: I love the act of learning. I never missed class in college. I read a lot and on a wide range of subjects. I like to learn new things. I also love children. I like seeing in their eyes when something clicks and begins to make sense. I like the process of watching them grow and add to their knowledge little by little.

Middle school students are not children. The idea of having a teenager living in my house calling me mom scared me as we moved closer to that magical 13th birthday. I said yes to volunteering in a middle school classroom filled with tweens and teens. That choice was a huge leap out of my comfort zone.

Three weeks ago when I went in for my first time to volunteer, I had to give myself a pep talk. I stood in the office waiting to sign in and thought I was going to vomit. I can’t remember when the last time I was that ridiculously nervous. The thought that saved me: my son would potentially die of embarrassment if his mother vomited in the office. There is no way that would stay secret in the gossip mill of middle school. I had to keep my hot-mess self under control for his sake.

Guess what? It was FINE…completely fine. It was super enjoyable. I had fun in a room where I was most definitely out-numbered by tweens/teens. They weren’t even a little bit scary. They were respectful, and for the most part, eager to talk with an adult about what they were reading. The last two weeks I’ve scheduled middle school volunteering on my calendar because I don’t want to miss being involved.

I haven’t been in my son’s class, that dying-of-embarrassment notion has kept me away, but I think he may eventually invite me to come to his class. It takes a little over an hour of my time once a week to help during two class periods, and I can do more if I would like. The bonus for me, aside from doing away with my silly trepidation toward teens, is seeing a brief glimpse into my son’s day.

I had no clue what modern middle school classes were like. I envisioned my experience decades ago. That’s not what I’ve found. The teachers I’ve been exposed to in middle school have a great respect for what these teens can accomplish. I wanted to hug the teacher after my first day in her class and tell her how good she is at what she does. More dying of embarrassment: your mom hugging teachers will also make it’s way back to you and you shouldn’t have to deal with her emotional nonsense unleashed outside the safety of your house.

If you’re interested in being involved, take that first step to inquire at school. You may find you’re grateful to be outside your box.


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