I spent my entire evening at a meeting at the kids' elementary school. This has been happening a lot lately, and it's kind of making me crazy. I don't much like meetings where not much gets accomplished, but "not much" is still more than "nothing," which is why I went in the first place. As a parent, I have to be an advocate for my kids and their teachers, so I go to the meetings and I listen and occasionally even speak up.
What the meeting was about, specifically, really isn't that important. In fact, in some ways it was rehash of the same conversations we have over and over at the district level, the state level, and the national level about just how we can adequately address the overwhelming academic and social needs of our students.
I learned far more in the hour-long informal chat I had with other parents after the meeting than during it, because it's in those spontaneous conversations where you figure out what's actually going on in the tangled web of local politics and district policy and layers of red tape that at the end of the day have very little to do with the actual teaching and learning going on in the classrooms.
I always leave these meetings alternately energized and drained. I can speak up. I can be an advocate. I can make a difference. I can also see the things that really won't change until we trust the professionals in the classrooms and trust our kids' desire to learn and acknowledge that educating children is an incredibly complicated, imperfect process that can not be quantified by test scores and sophisticated jargon.
I always leave these meetings feeling both that I'm glad I'm not a teacher, and kind of wishing that I were.