Dear Parents…


This week, I will have 19 parent-teacher conferences. After nine years as a first-grade teacher, you might think conference week is a breeze for me. This is definitely not the case. Preparing for conferences and organizing my thoughts can be a challenging task. I always struggle with the desire to ‘make it perfect’ so that the you leave with a true depiction of your child as student in my classroom. I want to have time to explain the difference between ‘CVC words’ and ‘sight words’ without making it seem like an overwhelming mess of educational vomit. I want to talk about more than just academics, because, after-all, it is first-grade. Human interaction is an important part of life. I want to share the stories of all the cute things your child does. I want to tell you that your child is so determined, hardworking, and thinks deeply. I know these traits will take him far in life. I also need to tell you that your child sometimes rushes through his work or doesn’t eat his lunch when you pack a turkey sandwich. (I also don’t want to sound rude, because I commend you for finding the time to make your child’s lunch in the first place.) The list goes on and on….and on.

But then, after talking to my sister about her upcoming conference for my niece, I realized this is a big deal for parents, too. While I might not be able to quiet my busy mind tonight as I try to fall asleep and mentally prepare, I thought it might be helpful to share a few tips for parents.

  1. Ask Questions

You won’t look like you’re stepping into a business-meeting if you bring a notebook and a pen. Write down anything you want to discuss. Bring your child’s report card as a reference. Just like I tell your children, It is okay to ask questions. Personally, I don’t think it’s rude to inquire about report card scores or even what your child reports to you at home. Most teachers are happy to explain and talk about truly anything.

2. It’s okay to show emotions

Sometimes children struggle- at home or at school. Sometimes they struggle in both places. They can struggle behaviorally, emotionally, or with academic content. Sometimes it’s indicative of something major that will impact your child’s life in school for years to come. Sometimes, it’s just a bump-in-the-road. Sometimes children say things like, “My work is too hard. I don’t like to read.” or “I don’t have any friends on the playground.” I’m not a parent, but I can imagine how painful and difficult those things are to hear. It’s okay to tell me that you’re worried. Chances are, I might be worried, too. I care about every aspect of your child.

3. I can’t see everything

Boy, I wish I could. Sometimes I miss something- like an unkind word muttered from one student to another. I encourage your children to talk to me when something is bothering them. I hope you will do the same.

4. Interrupt me

Well, maybe not literally, but you know what I mean. Sometimes I get on such a roll.  Please feel free to jump-in whenever necessary.

5. This is not ‘it’

We can meet again. (And again and again.) We can meet as many times as we need to. It is never a bother to have a phone conversation or meet in person. Yes, I do have 18 other students, but they all matter. We will be together for another 100+ days, and I know we can find time.

***Here is my favorite website created by a teacher. I have been following her for over ten years. (Insane, right?!) She has tons of incredible resources for teachers (and parents).

Mrs. Meachum’s Classroom Snapshots





Full Disclosure! (Full Body Skin Check)

“Oh, but my skin doesn’t burn.”

“I hear you, but, what are the chances of actually getting skin cancer? It’s not like it can kill you.”

“Getting skin cancer is just like having a mole taken off, right? That doesn’t seem dangerous.”

TwentyFivePlusFive Modern Derm 2.jpg

The excuses are endless. I’ve heard them all from friends whenever I mention sunscreen. My father is Portuguese, so I get the argument about “not burning.” I could lay in the sun for hours and never burn. That’s not the point. The point is, anyone with skin is at risk for sun damage and more importantly, skin cancer. (Duh)

My mother recently completed a treatment for a melanoma on her arm. It wasn’t ‘just a mole’, and if left untreated, it could be quite dangerous. We thank our lucky stars that she is under the care of an incredible specialist at Yale.

Last week, I had the opportunity to visit Dr. Rhonda Klein at Modern Dermatology in Westport for my annual skin check.

1.Why get a full-body skin check?

Why not? If you’re a woman, you get your girl-parts checked regularly at the gyno. This process is far more pleasant. Plus, most insurances cover an annual skin-check as preventative care.

2. When should I get a full-body skin check?

Dr. Klein recommends every one to two years for patients in their 20’s and 30’s, potentially more frequently depending on risk factors.

3. What should I wear?

During my visit, I chose to keep my undergarments on. I didn’t wear any lotions, perfumes, or make-up. Melanoma can hide under your fingernails. Interesting fact, Bob Marley died from an untreated melanoma under his toenail. Outrageous, right? That being said,  it is optimal to go with no color on your nails.

4. What can I expect?

Your dermatologist will most likely use a tool, a dermatoscope, to look at your skin. This tool can see past the surface of your skin, which helps the dermatologist see if anything is abnormal. In addition to looking over every inch of my body, Dr. Klein carefully inspected my scalp and even the bottoms of my feet. While she checked, her assistant used an Ipad to take close-ups of my freckles and moles.  In some instances, the doctor might decide to biopsy a mole or freckle that looks concerning. In the past, I’ve had this done. It feels similar to someone scraping your skin. It wasn’t bad at all. Thankfully, Dr. Klein didn’t see anything during my visit.

5. How do I choose a dermatologist?

Finding a dermatologist you trust is key. Dr. Klein’s resume speaks for itself –highly qualified is an understatement. More importantly, she made the process comfortable. I left the visit and couldn’t stop thinking about how much time she spent inspecting my body with her dermatoscope.  She took pictures of half a dozen moles and freckles on my body. Change in the appearance is a key sign that something isn’t right. Next year, when I am checked again, she will be able to compare pictures. (Talk about feeling like I am in good hands.) I also felt comfortable to ask her questions, and I had a ton. If you’re local, check out Modern Dermatology. If you aren’t local, check out Modern Dermatology’s Blog and find yourself a dermatologist you trust.

TwentyFivePlusFive Modern Derm 7TwentyFivePlusFive Modern Derm 8TwentyFivePlusFive Modern Derm 11

TwentyFivePlusFive Modern Derm 12
I learned that I should be wearing a stronger SPF on my face daily (even in the winter)
TwentyFivePlusFive Modern Derm 5.jpg
I even got to put my face into the Visia. My skin was is in pretty good shape, but it was eye-opening to see the sun damage I already have. All the more reason to be better about using a daily, stronger SPF.

Thank you, Dr. Klein and Modern Dermatology!