Last week my eighth grade class had its parents' night (Elternabend). Needless to say, I was quite nervous. I knew that my German speaking and listening skills were sub-par for communicating with the parents. And I also knew that my class hadn't been going perfectly. The students' behavior had been a challenge, and as a result, not every student was learning as much as he or she could have. As parents and the other teachers arrived in the room, it was helpful to hear from another teacher that she also gets nervous for these nights, partially because she is younger than the parents (though not as much as I).
I explained some things about my classroom and as expected, the parents had some questions. It's not always easy to hear criticism. One said that her child was not understanding the homework prompts. Another said her child wasn't understanding the new grammar we were learning. Answering these parents in German was a challenge. It was difficult for me to be as subtle and diplomatic as I wished to be. I actually didn't know whose mothers they were, but if the students weren't understanding, it's definitely important to make adjustments. I hope I got that across in a polite and reassuring manner. I remember learning in an education class at St. Olaf about ensuring the parents were on your team and I now understand why that is important.
Anyway, I am learning a lot here about teaching and how to interact with students. I have especially appreciated the opportunities to speak with students outside of class or school. It's hard to believe I've already been here for over two months!