Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Back to School Angst

I've hemmed a bit about trying to hash this out in writing because of friend of mine tried to hash something similar out on her blog, and got called out. (which was insane, her blog is anonymous, she didn't name her child, her school, the teacher or even the district, and she still got called out)

But here goes

I am always a mess at when the "back to school" time frame rolls around.  My kids now see a teacher for more hours a week than they see me.  Will their teacher like them?  Will they work well together?  Will they "get" my kid?

Take my 5th grader.  He fits the "gifted" profile well - very smart, very fast, a little immature, questions adults and authority, sensitive.  I remember those kids from school.  I know mothers of those kids today.  Add to that - I made plenty of mistakes along the way.  Was hard when maybe I should have been soft, was soft when I should have been hard, and plenty of times I checked out because he was too hard to deal with.  Add to that allergies and medical issues.  You've got yourself a nice little pot of soup now, and yet he isn't a bad kid, and by today's standards he isn't that hard in the classroom.  He doesn't yell, he doesn't fight, he doesn't need to be on medication, he isn't going to be on the news for doing something really crazy- he just fidgets, and laughs when he shouldn't and acts kind of like a 10 yr old boy.  He recently read Tom Sawyer, I think he related a lot.

So- his teacher assignment this year came and it was a teacher I've heard a lot about.  Rigid. Nit-picky. Sarcastic.  Those are the words the moms used.  Mean is what the older kids said.

I told him, "go in with an open mind.  don't judge her before you know her."

First day of school someone brings in cupcakes for a birthday.  Mrs. 5th grade teacher tells my son, "I know you have allergies and I don't think you should have a cupcake."  My son replies, "I'm allergic to shrimp."  She didn't let him have a cupcake.  She could have called the school nurse to ask what his allergies are.  We fill out reams of paper every year with all this info on it.  It has to be on file somewhere.

3rd day of school.  They fill out a "reading log" every night.  Date, title of the book, time the student began reading, time the student ended, number of pages read, did they finish the book, did they like it, parent initials.  My son is a reader.  He walks around with books in his hand.  He doesn't know how long he was reading, he was reading all afternoon - so he guesses.  He said on Wednesday that he had read 50 pages in 45 minutes.  On Thursday he claimed to have read 300 pages in 60 minutes.  Possibly an exaggeration, I'll give you that, but she called him out on it by saying "I don't believe you read that book in an hour." I don't know what else they said and then according to my son she said "I don't believe you could read that book in an afternoon."
She has known the kid 3 days.  She doesn't know what he can read nor how fast and to say "I don't believe..." is calling him a liar.  It seems to me that is unprofessional.

So I talked to my husband about it.  He said that he deals with problems with record keeping all the time and it drives him nuts because one item that is out of line makes him question every item and he has to double check and it is a waste of his time.  My husband feels my son needs to learn to record better.  Okay - I will try to work with that but I still think her response was nit-picky and unprofessional.  Besides, I reason, he gets pulled out for language arts enrichment and math enrichment anyway so he really only has to deal with this teacher for a few hours.

Last night I learned that this teacher is the language arts enrichment teacher.  Hold on!  Like I said before, it is not uncommon for bright children to be overly sensitive and immature.  And the school is giving a group of them to a woman that is described as "rigid and sarcastic" and who I think is unprofessional.

So - I called the vice principal and asked to make an appointment for a phone call.  I don't know what I'm going to ask for.  I can't ask for him to have a different teacher because she is the only enrichment teacher in 5th grade.  But I can at least tell the vice principal why I think it is a bad choice on their part, and why I call this woman unprofessional.

My husband says we all have teachers we don't like, bosses that we don't enjoy working for, but we have to buck up and make the best of it.  This is true.  But I think it is one thing for a mature adult to deal with and something entirely different for an immature kid to take on.  It is going to be a hard year.  And some how I have to prove to my son that while I expect him to work hard at school, I'm on his side.

Today is the 7th day of school.

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