I do this prayer for a few reasons.
1. It starts the conference off a the right note. Our focus is on what is best for the student and his/her bigger picture. We can re-focus our priority on the child or teen’s soul and personality over grades and schoolwork (although we will of course get to those in the conference too). We share this moment to show that we are all on the same page and have the same ultimate goals. We invite God into the conversation and the relationship. We put aside any stress or frustration for a little while to center ourselves with what matters most.
2. If the student is present (this prayer works either way, but I prefer a student-led conference), it shows him/her how much we care. It’s ok to pause for a minute to reinforce that we care so much about his/her well-being and there are no sides here. We are all on the same team. It’s really a great feeling as a kid/teen to see that people are praying just for you! They almost always start the conference with a little smile after hearing and participating in this little prayer that is all about them.
3. It begins with positive traits about the student. We acknowledge him/her as a blessing and thank God for the characteristics that make him/her special. We are thankful for this child!
I actually just ad-lib and do this general format, but making it up as I go. Once you do it a few times, you may be able to get comfortable doing the same. You can print the template or the sample as a guide.
I spend a quick 30 seconds between conferences to select the positive traits that I want to say for the next student, then when the parents walk in, right after introductions and taking a seat, I invite them to join me in taking a quick moment to start with a prayer. The reactions have always been positive.
Don't worry if you have students who you get stumped on. This happens with certain kids when choosing positive traits, report card comments, etc. if their personalities do not mesh with the standard "good student" characteristics.
Every student does bring something special to a class and has plenty of positive characteristics that deserve to be praised! I've included a list of traits that you can use for those more challenging kids in your class. It's even more important in those cases to show the student and parents that you see and value those great things about their kid, when it's possible that in past years, teachers have overlooked the positive side. This list should help you to adjust your perspective to find the blessings within each child's personality. (You can use these for report cards or progress reports too!)
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