31 August 2010

Back-to-School Night

I have two older children in public school and while I can't say I'm always happy with the teachers, I CAN tell you that I at least try to set aside my own attitude aside for a few hours and focus on what my older children need.  THEY are the ones who have decided to go to school, so it's my job to be supportive.  Teachers probably can't stand some of the children and their parents who are going to back-to-school night either, but since they're the PROFESSIONALS, I'm thinking they can behave themselves better than this:

“So you can see I am very qualified. So, do I know more than you do about the curriculum? Yes I do. Do I know more about [student] placement? Yes I do. Do I want your opinion? No I don’t.”

The article goes on to talk about how while perhaps this isn't the BEST way to greet parents (ya think?), that parents shouldn't ask specifically about how their child's allergies will be handled, or talk about the curriculum or... well, anything "specific."  I've been dealing with these folks for a loooong time and I can tell you that the reason parents are sometimes a bit pushy is that THERE IS NO GOOD TIME to ask specifics. 

What I've found, particularly in the younger grades, is that parents aren't even told which class their child would be in until about five days before school. Then it is impossible to get in touch with anyone with any sort of authority for about two weeks. I've seen some VERY pushy parents who literally have strolled to the front of the line and butted in to accost a teacher about this or that grade/method of dealing with the class, but I've come to the conclusion that MOST parents are driven to be pushy by the circumstance of not being able to have their legitimate questions answered in a timely manner.


Try it.  Your question gets routed to this person, or that, or whatever, and the person in charge of that department is sure to leave a message on your answering machine when you're unable to get to the phone.  And at the beginning of the year, let's be honest, YOUR "specific" question might just be the same question several other people have.  Or at the very least, wouldn't it save time in the long run just to stay an extra hour or two on back-to-school night specifically to take personal questions, such as the ones about the allergies or student placement?  The article seems to poo-poo the allergy concern.  It isn't a trivial issue for some children!

In other back-to-school news, what do you think about "reading logs" and this idea that children must read x number or books or spend x amount of time reading?   I'm not sure myself.  Here, I've just directed my homeschoolers to write a paper on "Ancient Egypt," and they're looking over all the books.  I don't think they're intentionally trying to avoid the assignment.  I think they're a little lost/absorbed in the reading, and that's ok.  We can do the assignment later because after all, I did NOT give a time limit on it (if I had, that would be a different matter entirely).

Yet G's middle school, with the best of intentions, set up a "reading time" at the beginning of the day.  I think it's an excellent idea.  It helps children have a set time to read what they want AND helps latecomers get into school without disrupting everyone's class.  I don't think it encourages lateness as there is a detention system set up after a certain number of "unexcused" absences (I have mixed feelings about this, but another post). 

Still, this rather unstructured time doesn't MAKE a good reader.  G is able to read very basic things with much effort.  He would bring picture books (comics, really) for his own reading time but he COULD be GUIDED through something more difficult.  I think much depends upon the student and his ability and educational needs, whether this approach works.

This website is an interesting sort of a take on things.  It seems to be run by "FedUpMom," and she's fed up, but not quite ready to call for an end to public education.  Many ideas on the LA Times article and other tidbits, but the link above directs you to a post on the reading log idea.

3 comments:

  1. The administrator at a school in Montgomery County needs a PR man. Geez, thinking that is one thing. Saying it out loud to a bunch of parents is just mind boggling. It makes me wonder how he or she made it up to a position that high in the district. Really...

    ReplyDelete
  2. If anyone in a public school system said that to me, I would take my kids out that very day. I pay their paychecks, therefore *I* am their boss. They would get my opinions/questions/concerns as I see fit.Not just the educational system has gone downhill.....sadly manners, morals, and tact took a dive years ago.

    ReplyDelete
  3. OMG, YES!!!
    On the unable to discuss which grade/class your kid gets assigned until the first day before/of school (at Aspie teens former school at least)and allergies?!
    *Insert teachers' eye rolling here when allergies/disabilities/learning difficulties are mentioned*
    Then the *snort* of contempt and the sarcastic repeating of *disability/allergy/learning difficulty* which is never fully addressed as you're then required to explain the fully qualified specialists who have not only diagnosed these issues but who have written screeds for the teacher's benefit to use in the classroom but have somehow ended up lining the class's pet parrot's cage.

    ReplyDelete

Non-troll comments always welcome! :)