Friday, November 10, 2006

cobweb clarification

I guess the cobwebs make me more cryptic in my writing than I should be at times, or maybe it's my inner editor telling me to be cautious about how much I say (which is probably a good thing). So now in the light of day, a retrospective.

We had fall parent teacher conferences last night, and while Calvin and Starflower are both excelling in classes, I can say I don't care for Calvin's teacher at all. She focuses on the negative, the "needs improvement" areas, which are few, without seeming to notice his strengths. She made it a point to tell us he was getting a B minus in science because he was "missing a few things" in his leaf collection project, one I helped him with and I know he went above and beyond to identify tree species (not required) and discuss them. He just didn't follow all the directions to the letter, in which case this should not be graded as a science project but as an exercise in conformity. She spent time discussing a few late math assignments, which happened a few weeks ago, saying that "if this continues his grades will suffer when he's in fifth grade". Ummm...he gets everything right on them, he tests well above grade level, he hasn't turned an assignment in late in weeks, what's the problem here?

She also told me he's a good reader, but he doesn't read enough. They really emphasize quantity over quality at this school; points are given for how many books are read. He has read abridged versions of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer, and enjoyed them so much he has talked about them for weeks and even acted out a few adventures. Yet he did so-so on the "comprehension" tests. I think perhaps the tests were not an accurate measure of his comprehension; we have had twenty minute discussions on the way to school about the history, culture and geography of those books. I tend to think Calvin thinks outside the box too much on tests, and I mentioned this to his teacher who replied "but he has to learn to do it the RIGHT way."

While Starflower's teacher was pleasant, Calvin's teacher's tone was cold and condescending. I could tell he was nervous around her, not wanting to interact, and that's not a good sign. The kicker was when she sent the kids out of the classroom so she could discuss something privately with us. She then brought up a sensitive issue, one I was totally unprepared to discuss, not a really bad thing, but her way of broaching the subject, with her condescending manner, put me on the defensive. I looked her in the eye with all the strength I could muster and said firmly, "I think this is something best dealt with at HOME." I then broke eye contact for the remainder of her lecture, gathered his papers and walked out.

In fact, I think her coldness and negativity are what brings on this "issue" with him. I'm seriously considering pulling him from her class, although he would still have her for some subjects, which would not be a good situation. Maybe even home or online schooling. He has so much potential, I will not have his spirit broken by a teacher who sees only what needs improvement. I know I suffered under elementary teachers in the seventies who apparently were taught to have all the warmth and approachability of a glacier.

So there you have it, not the entire tangled mess of cobwebs, but one of the key strands.


H. Stallard said...

Even the warm, caring, and approachable teachers will still want them to learn to do things the RIGHT way. I urge you to seriously consider home or online schooling. FYI...I played the teaching game for 36 years.

LauraHinNJ said...

Sounds more like the TEACHER'S way than the RIGHT way to me.

As a teacher I think kids need to learn to follow directions and there is merit in that, as FC pointed out in your last post.

There is also merit in creativity and extending a lesson beyond the requirements. You would expect a teacher to appreciate that.

The problem I think comes along when there's 20 kids all wanting to do things their own way.