The title of this post is a bit misleading. Before this past week, I had actually met all of my students’ parents. I was convinced there was one dad I had not met, but I was wrong. I met him my first day in Baku, so I will blame my total lapse in memory on jet lag. I am allowed to do that. Luckily, he was not terribly offended that I had gone four months convinced I had never met him. Otherwise, each parent has picked up their child from school, attended a class party, or watched their little ones perform. The men and women who would be sitting down to “talk business” with me were no strangers, but boy did it feel that way! By Monday, I felt as if I was beginning a week of intense interviews and critiques. I thought surely this would be the most dreadfully awful week of teaching I would ever experience. Let me just tell you, I was immensely mistaken.
At our school, our wonderful administrative assistant, Guzel, took the time to call and set up all of our meetings. Come Tuesday, we were simply given the schedule and that was that. All I had to do was make sure I had marks given to all my students and their portfolios in a semi-presentable order. Unfortunately, no assessments were given to my student prior to my arrival, so I had to test and assess for any and everything I felt was covered before I arrived and since. Those little guys really surprised me with how much they know! For what is expected of them according to the school by the end of the year, some of them are really on track for the 5 year old class! I was so impressed and prideful of their wonderful accomplishments! How exciting to know that I would have so many positive remarks to make regarding these fantastic children when their parents arrived!
Now, I will not take the time and rehash the 17 meetings I went through on Thursday and Friday. I believe it is enough to say that I had nothing to worry about. Some of these moms and dads sat at the table with me just as nervous, if not more so, which was entirely comforting. They were afraid of what I would say, and I of their words. We were able to exchange positive marks, create goals for their child, and get to know each other more during our 20 (sometimes 40) minute meeting. At the end of each meeting, we bid our farewells, both having a strong feeling of pride and knowing exactly what needed to be done to continue to help their child grow.
Some of my parents are very busy business men and women, so I rarely see several of them throughout the year. As I sat across from one young man’s parents, I felt an overwhelming sense of gratefulness and support coming from them. Not only were they thankful for what I had done with their little boy over the past four months, I was thankful for all the work and effort they put into his education at home. It was an incredible feeling to know that we both appreciated so much what the other was doing. Obviously, our priorities went hand-in-hand. We wanted this little guy to succeed and reach his fullest potential!
At the end of our meeting, something noteworthy occurred. Many times at school or church, greeting someone feels awkward to me. We will say “Hello” or “Good morning” to each other, then they will ask “How are you?” I will respond with the typical, “I’m good, and you?” Almost always, the response is merely, “Thank you.” This always bothers me. I feel as if it puts a stop to the conversation immediately. I never know what I could say next to keep us talking. Usually, I will just let it end there and carry on with whatever I was doing. Well as I was wrapping up this meeting, I checked to see if they had any questions. They had one for me, but it had nothing to do with their son. They asked, “How are you?” Wow. I had never found myself so surprised by such a simple question. Suddenly, I understood. My first response was, “Thank you!” It was as if I had never been asked the question before. I was overcome by gratitude and comforted by their concern for me. Sometimes I forget that it is a pretty big deal to be living in a new country at only 22. Many of these families recognize that and truly care about how I am doing personally. It felt so nice to hear those words with sincerity and concern. I wonder when was the last time I asked someone with such interest and sincerity, “How are you?”