Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Near Tears during Open House!

Last night, yet another Open House. Of course we attended, and yes I meant to say “we.” I didn’t get a babysitter this time because I was told that it was ok to bring your kids. I armed Sugar with her iPod and Spice with crayons and a notebook and we were off.

We went immediately to Sugar’s class because we arrived at exactly the time we were supposed to. This meant that every parking spot was full and we had to walk for miles. Sugar bitched and moaned about the book fair, meeting the gym teacher and a thousand other things. I thought it was most important to figure out if there was a schedule of events and go from there. We went to her classroom, she showed me her desk and we waited to talk to the teacher.

As soon as we got the word that the presentation would be at 7:00, we headed to the gym to meet the teacher. Spice sat on the bleachers and colored while we listened to what the gym teacher had to say. She showed us all the rock climbing wall and talked about how they learn to do that. She spoke to each parent briefly and I was thrilled when she told me how sweet my girl is. I love to hear stuff like that. I’m told that she enjoys being on a team, helping out and doing things on her own. She’s a “joy to have in class.” Gym was always my worst subject, so I was pleased to hear that Sugar does so well. Proof that she does have some of her father in her.

We went back to her class and I spoke to her teacher long enough to ask how Sugar was doing in class. As you might remember from last year, Sugar had a few rough patches with her 4th grade teacher. I’ve been watching her grades, ok stalking the grade book, so I thought everything was ok. Her teacher confirmed that she is doing really well. I asked if she seemed to have problems paying attention and her teacher told me they’ve never had a problem. Come again? Every report card from every teacher mentions her attention span (or lack thereof). I am stunned and amazed and I’m not sure how that happened. Perhaps Sugar is still honeymooning with her teachers and her school and she’ll lapse back into it in a few weeks. Meanwhile I’m walking on clouds.

Then it was time for the presentation. We learned more about the SmartBoard and how it works. I would love one of these for my very own! They talked about the curriculum and what the kids would learn this year, once they get through the shit-ass standardized testing they’re having right now. “Everyday Math” or EveryParent’s Nightmare got quite a bit of attention. Turns out I’m not the only one that thinks it sucks. In fact the teacher mentioned that some kids even learn better the old fashioned way.

They talked about helping with homework and when to draw the line. They said if your kid doesn’t understand the work at home, we didn’t reach your child when we taught the lesson. Write a note and send the incomplete assignment back. They further encouraged us to keep in touch if there are things going on outside the classroom that might make your kid come to school feeling “fragile.” They also told parents to please let them know if there was something going on in school that was bothering them. The teachers are sometimes the last to know.

And then… then the teachers thanked the parents for raising such nice kids. They said that the behavior shown by this group of kids is what they typically see in June, after they’ve matured through the school year. They keep pinching themselves to see if they’re dreaming. They talked of their students’ impatience to learn, their kindness towards their classmates, their excitement to be part of this team. I know they were speaking to everyone in the room, but my heart just filled up and I wanted to cry… big, heaving, nose-running tears. They thanked the parents for being such an active part of their child’s education.

I just can’t get over it. Last year Sugar struggled to conform. She worked hard to please her teacher and do things right the first time. She had several incidents where she was publicly chastised and I worried that there was something wrong with my kid. I worried that she had problems understanding, reasoning and drawing conclusions. Perhaps instead, she was just paired up with the wrong teacher?

I’m thrilled with her placement and glad that I reached out to her 3rd grade teacher for assistance while filling out the placement forms. She told me that Sugar excels when she’s comfortable in her surroundings and encouraged to explore. She needs to feel safe to express her ideas.

Maybe these teachers coddle their students, or maybe they are just incredibly caring and nurturing. Whatever the case, if I could have hand-picked her teachers this year, these are the ones I would have chosen. 

Ice Princess

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