Occasionally, I get up on my educational soapbox. Before I had my oldest son, I was a teacher for 5.5 years. I taught 6th grade Language Arts/Social Studies, K-6 Instructional Support, 8th grade Science/Social Studies, 3rd grade, and then finally 5th grade. I once wrote a list of suggestions for how to deal with your child’s teacher.
But, I was oh-so-very-close to breaking some of those rules. Because I wasn’t sure what to make of Monkey’s kindergarten teacher.
I had sent in two notes to her…that went unanswered. And I started to get self-righteous. There’s evidence on twitter- I’m totally guilty. Because I said, “Well, when I was a teacher, I always responded to every note the day it was sent in. And if it was something that required a lengthy response, I sent home a note requesting a conference or would call that parent.”
And both of those notes really only required a yes or no answer. What the heck????
Then there were two homework assignments that he DID and DID get sent to school in his homework folder that she didn’t check off on his homework calendar, that she circled in red, like he didn’t do them. Trust me, he did them and they were turned in. What the heck?????
Plus, I wasn’t seeing ANY papers being sent home. Nothing. And I saw a friend’s son’s stack of kindergarten papers- GIGANTIC. My son goes to school full-day and hers only half-day. So, where were the papers?
Then, Monkey tells me that his teacher yells all the time. Now, this one, I was very, very hesitant to believe. Because I used to be accused of this- but often, when kids say “yell,” they really mean that they got in trouble for something or another child did and the teacher was correcting them. Not “yell” as in “volume,” but as in “scold.”
BUT! A friend of mine used to work with Monkey’s kindergarten teacher and she told me that she always heard this teacher screaming. This is totally breaking my guidelines for dealing with your child’s teacher- to gossip about them, ask others what they think, and generally get yourself riled up by talking to others about what is going on instead of going right to the teacher.
And then there was the recess issue. My son kept telling me that he had to walk laps that day. There is a law now that kids have to have 30 minutes of physical activity every day, so taking recess away just isn’t an option- so in its place, a lot of teachers around here have gone to “walking laps” which means that instead of playing whatever game the teacher/TA has planned for the kids that day, they walk laps around the playground.
I don’t doubt that my son has done things that require correction. And I really don’t think that I need to hear every. single. thing. that he does wrong. Major, yes, but not minor. But, if he does something bad enough to have to walk laps, I think I should know about it.
Then, I emailed her with a question. And it went unanswered. I did use the school’s system to do this since I didn’t have her email on hand…so I gave her the benefit of the doubt. And emailed her directly that afternoon when I had my son’s folder in front of me, with her address. That one did get returned.
All of this left me with not the best impression of her.
Hubs had his haircut by a woman whose oldest son had her as a teacher last year and she requested that her youngest have her this year. I thought REALLY? I was thinking that I would be requesting that my other boys NOT have her.
So, last Thursday, I had a conference scheduled with her. She wants one conference with each family every grading period, more if you/she feel it necessary. So, this was our turn.
I went in, completely unsure of what she was going to say and what I would say in return.
Because part of me wanted to go in all mother-bear and ticked off. But, I remember from my teaching days how the best conferences where- and that was when the parent came in with an open-mind, ready to listen, and not jumping to crazy conclusions.
As we talked, I found out that it’s best to email her. That part of EVERY child’s 30 minutes of structured recess is walking laps(not a punishment), that she had his work all there for me in his portfolio and sent some home, and that she adores my son.
She spoke really highly of him and said that she just loves his personality and the very unique way that he thinks(complete with stories that I won’t bore you with). He’s either where he needs to be on his kindergarten objectives or ahead- some he’s already mastered the end-of-year objective.
As she talked, I could really tell that she loves what she does. And that she loves her students, my son included.
She even answered some questions that I had about pre-K and she helped me out with some concerns I have with Bear, too. She said that her students’ families are her families and if something is affecting any member of one of her students’ families, then she wants to do whatever she can to help.
I am so very HAPPY to have been WRONG. And glad that I went in with an open-mind and not with a big mouth….because I would have just been putting my foot right in it.
And maybe, instead of requesting that my other children have any teacher but her, I will be requesting that they all do.