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Thoughts Before Opening the First Report Card

It is that progress that matters. But I do care what the teacher thinks. I do care what the teacher sees.

By: Sally Felkai

I am about to open my daughter's first report card ever. I am curious about the mix of feelings I have in this moment. There is a little rise of trepidation, left over I'm sure from my own childhood dread and excitement at seeing my own. There is detachment or something like it as part of me knows that it doesn't matter what is in there.

I can already see so much progress since our late September start to the school year and school career. It is that progress that matters. But I do care what the teacher thinks. I do care what the teacher sees. I hope that my girl is seen for who she is and that the professionals can feel the vastness in there. I can. I have spent many hours by her side growing in awareness and perception of the big person inside that little body. My time with her has opened up some kind of receptor to seeing and feeling more of everyone.

Can everyone else see her? I know some can and some can't. I reunited with a long lost pal when A was about 2 years old. That friend could feel her right away. My Mom and sisters and brothers could too. I have other friends who tried not to show it but saw only a disadvantage and a disability and felt only pity. I say this not to condemn them but with curiosity about who can see and why.

I want so much for her to be seen. I want that for all of us actually. My son too, myself, my partner, my siblings and their kids. I want that for the whole world. I want us all to have room for each other.

So when I open that card in a few minutes I wonder what will be important to me? Will it be the grades that cannot possibly measure who she is? Will it be the comments? If she's done well will I breath a sigh of relief and congratulate myself on a parenting job well done as I've been trained to do, as we all do with our measurement-based judgements? If she's done poorly, will I try to suppress my disappointment using the kind of self-talk I'm using right now as I write this?

Will it be a sort of non-event that reflects only one teacher's perspective at one point in time? Interestingly, I spent the day at work writing up 'report cards' or performance reviews on my own team. I am just coming from the perspective of evaluating people with a measurement scale and comments. It's painful. It's hard. It's useful for the discussion that it fosters. That discussion is necessary. The measurement can be useful if it helps mark progress but it's so easy to get distracted by that and miss the context and content and growth.

I will take this as a first marker to be used to see how far we can go from here. Before I even open it, I know that her teacher and educational assistants are great and I believe they do 'get' her. That is so important and no matter what is in there, I know I am amazed at how far she has come since late Sept and I know we can work together to go furthe

This post is reprinted by permission from Sally's blog, Wide Awake Planet.

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