Friday, April 13, 2007

can I indulge in some melancholy?

Yes, I'm feeling that way tonight. It was a beautiful day, springlike, perhaps convincing me that the second coming of spring was going to be the real thing. I saw a bluebird, and lots of kestrels.

But yet, there was this un-right feeling. Perhaps it was from taking Mr. Attitude to kindergarten roundup today, and finding a group of mostly apathetic parents. Who mostly looked under 25. I didn't make any spontaneous friends there. Sigh.

I like a lot of the teachers at the school, that is, until fourth grade. A kindergarten teacher, who had had Starflower in her class, remarked to me: "He's really sure of himself, isn't he!" Yep. That's my Attitude. But all I see is negativity from Calvin's fourth grade teacher. Punish him for his weaknesses, don't acknowledge his strengths. The "weaknesses", by the way, are a few late assignments. It makes me want to take him out of school altogether. I feel like I'm seeing his enthusiasm for school being drained, right before my eyes. Homeschool comes to mind, a lot. I am secretly hoping there are some fifth grade teachers who care. I am going to do everything in my power to make sure Starflower does not end up with this nattering nabob of negativity for a fourth grade teacher. My kids deserve better.


Anonymous said...

I remember 4th grade as being a sort of consciousness turning point for me. No more little kids. I can recall beginning to understand how the world worked and how adults fit in it. All grades, I suppose, are important and formative, but 4th grade stands out (even after the decades have passed).


THE FAMILY: said...

Yes, 4th grade can be a rough year. Its bringing back memories of my daughter's 4th grade was horrible but she did survive!

elise said...

oops! "the family" is really "elise". I messed around with my blog yesterday!

Floridacracker said...

Gosh Mr. Agnew, that was a flashback.

In the course of 12+ years the quality of the educators will certainly fluctuate. We toughed out a poor 8th grade math teacher last year for JR, but were rewarded with a smart rigorous one this year.
You have more power than you know as a parent in the public system. If you want to avoid a certain teacher go meet with the school and explain your desire to have a different teacher. Apply MOM pressure if needed, but they may fold quickly if you give them reasons.
Except for state mandated remdial courses that we can't change, I've never seen a parent refused their reasonable (yours is) request.
Parents rule.
I'm not saying they are always right or that they have an accurate unbiased view of their child's ability, but they do rule.
Exert your power.

arcolaura said...

Oh, that sounds familiar. For us it was fifth grade before things really went downhill, and then it was a steep slope. We got James through fifth grade by taking his side, acknowledging the weaknesses of the teacher, assuring him that we weren't judging him by his grades, and encouraging him to take the teacher-student conflict itself as the major learning experience of the year. We were sure things would be better once he got past that one teacher.

Not much.

And there's no real option of a different teacher here - there is at most one class per grade, and sometimes they even combine classes where the enrollment is small. The only option of a different teacher was me.

I think I've done okay, but it's been a strain. I think it would have been easier for both of us if it was a full commitment to homeschool all the way through, and to do it our own way. It would take more self-examination and conscious choosing to build learning into our whole lifestyle, but once the habits were established, I think it would flow better. As it is, I've been trying to follow the core curriculum so he could go back in whenever it seems right. He has decided he wants to go back next fall.

One change we made recently seems to be helping: instead of scheduling time to work on subject areas and mimicking the school schedule, we looked at all the areas we wanted to cover and figured out what goals had to be met each week. Thus I've been able to give James more choice and responsibility for getting those goals met on his own time and in his own way.

Nothing like the "unschool" approach, I know, but I think it's a darn sight better than the lock-step, micromanaged and yet wildly undisciplined, lowest-common-denominator approach he was dealing with in the classroom. I hear that she's teaching long division all over again because so many of them didn't get it. Meanwhile James is charging ahead through the workbook they were using, and we still haven't found any real challenge for him in it.

I just hope they don't switch the teachers around again. If things stay as they are, he will have an outstanding teacher in the fall, and maybe things will go better for him.

Deb said...

I really appreciate all the input here. I really don't know anything about the 5th grade teachers, so I suppose I should be doing my homework. And, I'm pretty timid when it comes to talking with "the authorities", so maybe I have to work up some of that MOM energy.

Fourth grade was a big deal at my elementary school. Fourth, fifth and sixth grades were on the second floor, so that was a big move, and I think they even had lockers up there! I think classes did get a bit more serious then. I also remember having my first crush then, a boy who sat in the back of the row in my English class, who had a prematurely deep voice and a bit of a Southern drawl. I didn't get the courage to turn around and see what he looked like for a few weeks.

elise said...

I have always "requested" certain teachers for my kids. I usually send a nice letter that lets them know which teacher I would like and then a back-up (we have 8 or 9 teachers in each grade level). I let them know that I think my child will get the best education with this teacher (if I have a specific reason I write that too) and then thank them profusely for their time. I would recommend writing it soon if you are going to. In our school the class lists are usually being written in March and April. Writing a letter has always worked well for me. Sometimes I have just told them which teacher I don't want. I've actually had more trouble figuring out which teacher is right for my kid! Sometimes I've been wrong, terribly wrong:) Good luck in whatever you decide to do!