Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Few Final Lessons

My husband being away is bad.  I always stay up way too late and my mind wanders...

Only 6 more days until the end of the school year.  Those of you who've been readers for a while know that this year has been... less than perfect.  My daughter has been confused, I've been confused, and I'm fairly sure that the teacher has been confused a lot of the time!  Just today, she was supposed to have 2 tests, neither of which were administered.  Do we know if they have been rescheduled?  Of course not.  This is peanuts compared to some of the craziness this year.  BUT... I read a comment on a blog this evening that made me think about my role with my children.  I truly believe that my children are a direct result of my parenting.  This year, I'd give myself my daughter's current grades:  a few A's, some B's, and a few C's.  Granted, there are several big assignments left to be graded that will raise her grades to A's, B's, and only 1 C, but my grades for the year will not jump at the end of the semester like hers.  

Lesson #1: OUR CHILDREN ARE NOT REPLICAS OF OURSELVES AT THEIR AGES!  I started this school year parenting like I would have needed in 3rd grade.  Big mistake that I took too long to correct!  

Lesson #2: DON'T TRY TO CHANGE DIFFICULT PEOPLE, WORK AROUND THEM! I've always heard that you'll encounter at least one teacher who's awful, burnt out, or just clashes with your personality.  This year I had the... privilege of working with a teacher whose philosophy of education differs vastly from mine.  Did she grate on my nerves?  Oh yeah.  Did she cross several lines that I found inappropriate?  Absolutely.  However, she believed with all her heart in her teaching methods, and it took me until Christmas to give up and consider this year an obstacle in life.  

Lesson #3: THE PRINCIPAL'S JOB IS TO BACK THE TEACHER IN FRONT OF THE PARENTS. When I was teaching high school English, my principal told me that he would always defend me to the parents of my students.  Of course, he warned, he would tell me what he really thought after the parents were gone.  Thank goodness I never needed one of those lectures!  However, in my attempt to remedy some situations where I felt too much personal information was being shared in my child's classroom, I met with the principal and shared my list of concerns.  The response?  Just what I should have expected.  I was brought in for a meeting with the teacher so that she could explain her way out of each and every concern of mine.  Ugh. On the other hand, we had NO more instances of that nature after the meetings, so perhaps I accomplished what I set out to after all.  

Lesson #4: TRUST YOURSELF TO KNOW YOUR CHILD. Bless my daughter's heart, she has yet to grasp the difference between immediate gratification and long term satisfaction. I know this, have known this for years.  This year, I would spend a few weeks checking her assignment notebook obsessively and nagging her about bringing homework home for me to go over with her.  Then I would try to wean her off my guidance.  I knew good and well that she wasn't ready, that were it not for my supervision her grades would have gone to crap due to a complete lack of work.  Her grades would start to fall, and I'd pick back up again.  I'm still researching ways to teach kids about long term rewards.

There is no doubt in my mind that I have learned more this year than my sweet and high spirited daughter.  What I'm learning NOW is that we are heading to a school community that is incredibly excited to welcome my kiddo.  It's so very nice after a year of feeling like my kid is seen as a burden.  


Marie said...

Some great lessons have been learned for sure! Your schools finish up really early. Our kids don't go off on summer break until late July.

Mrs. Haid said...

Since I am a teacher and not a parent and my family is made of teachers, I usually side with the teacher on any matter. I wonder if this will ever change. I heard about teachers who were showing movies all last 2 weeks at our former HS, and now as a teacher who values bell-to-bell teaching, I am annoyed that this policy is allowed. If I were a parent, I'd be really upset. I don't want a school system to waste my kid's time. I've been thinking more about homeschooling - and though my philosophy of education is as such that I value collaborative learning and diverse opinions that cannot be replaced with out a traditional classroom experience - I am starting to wonder if my position about home schooling will change even more when I realize the special needs or differentiation my child requires, but might not be provided.

I think you should look into MoVIP through DESE to see what is out there in terms of alternative learning available in Missouri. You can take some classes - like PE or math - in the traditional setting - and others via this Web based school.

It seems like a great way to marry the two ideas together - public education and experiences and "not wasting time/tailoring lessons to specific needs".