Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Game On


We met with the principal today, and believe me, he was not my "pal". Broaching the subject of changing classrooms, he acted as though this were as typical as all those cats who like to play fetch.

I made my case, which was met with incredibly inarguable points such as: we can't move your child because it might hurt the teacher's feelings and create hostility between staff if one were preferred over another! It's as though they are not professionals and incapable of dealing with criticism. Not everyone likes pop art; so don't buy a Lichtenstein for your living room. What's the problem?

The main argument against switching classrooms is, if we make an exception for you, we'd have to make an exception for EVERYONE. We can't treat you differently than we treat everyone else. That's not a good precedent to set. How many parents, I wonder, line up outside the office door requesting a change? Right. Judging by how many line up to volunteer, not many, I think. And if there are, they should be given a chance to explain and then be considered on a case by case basis. If there is merit, the request should be considered.

In this district, apparently it is against the laws of nature and man to allow parents to change schools or to change classrooms. Doing so might mean the Earth's magnetic fields switch polarity rendering all compasses pretty, if useless, instruments. Much like meddling parents who want their kids in the right classroom.


That's okay. If the school were to capitulate in the first meeting, who would respect them? Besides me, I mean.

The teacher does not instruct in a clear way. She begins by giving step 2, step 3, step 4.5, then goes back to step 1 with an addendum to add step 4; a reminder to write clearly on step 5; then gives steps 6-18 in similar manner, after which the children wander to their seats in a fog of confusion. I know, because I see it when I am there three mornings a week. I know, too, because I have messy notes from all that erasing when she gives me instructions in that abstract way of hers. I'm no rocket scientist, but I'm no slouch, either. If I have trouble understanding her, yet I am equipped with the ability to clarify, what are the kids to do?

Her classroom is most definitely not a model for admirable behavior. If she's not ignoring too much talking, she's explaining to death why the kids just shouldn't do that. No consequences, they get talked to death. After they awake from their boredom-induced comas, they ignore her to do it again another day.

Tonight I will spend writing argument to each point that was brought up in the meeting. After that, obtain a copy of the school district's policy on classroom changes. We have another meeting with the principal and the teacher tomorrow afternoon. Which is great, this way I get to complain about her shortcomings to her face. Oh well, if that's what it takes to make things right.

I should say that the watch-stealing kid got into trouble for the incident I wrote about last week. Or, the week before? It happened after I left for the day, and more importantly, after the class was disrupted three separate times.

That was round one. Set up the hoops, I'm jumping through. No matter how many ridiculous arguments I might face.


Loralee Choate said...

I so hate to say I told you so.

I also hate to say that I think there is more luck in getting them to serve banana splits and nothing else for lunch for a week than change your child.

You would be staggered at the number of parents who make this request. TONS of them. I was floored.

I'm surprised he didn't bring up things like sex ratios, testing ability balance and statistics up. Ususally, they do a ton of talking and comparison to make up a "Balanced" classroom. They will never, ever tinker with it.

I have watched in two districts where reasons that are far more appalling than those that you listed were met with big, fat, no's. (Not saying you don't have reasons, I think you do!)

I do have to urge some serious caution here. Working as much as I have behind the scenes you need to be take some things into consideration.

Schools have VERY long memories.
Parents who are seen as "Trouble makers" can face a lot of problems.

Again. Freaking appalling, but I have seen it and seen it. Even in the charter school that we are in (Where parents have a lot more say) they are absolutely DIE HARD about not moving kids.

Good news? You will likely (Hopefully) bring a LOT more attention to this teacher's ability. Hopefully the principal will get into her classroom and observe her more and pair her with a solid, good teacher as a mentor.

I hope that this doesn't piss you off, I am not trying to be a defeatist, I am just telling you what my experiences have been.

I totally hope that you win and get a new classroom. I would love to see it once in my life.

Loralee Choate said...

Ok, I am sitting here freaking out that I am being a non-supportive NAYSAYER!!!!

(Because that is what I do: Post my opinion and then freak out about naysaying, etc.)

It isn't helping that my husband is being weenish about our anniversary and I just started my period.

Ok. I am going to stop embarrassing myself here and back away from the keyboard before I put my foot in my mouth again...

Jen said...

OG, you have spent time in that classroom at a school where there are very few parent volunteers, which does give you some power. You are valuable to them. In 7 years with kids in that district I have not experienced any "trouble maker" vibes from RSD when the parent is actually involved in school activities. That label (trouble maker) is reserved for the parents who haven't set foot in a school since day 1 (if at all) and barge in 3 months later demanding changes (usually without an appointment).

That being said... good luck and keep on keepin' on. Let me know if there's anything I can do to help. Hugs!!

IzzyMom said...

Tell them you're going to contact the local news and make a big stink about it. You know what they say...the squeaky wheel gets the grease :)