Thursday, December 20, 2007

Team Occidental Tourist Takes the Lead

If influence were measured by level of amount of ire raised in others, then it seems I am an influential woman. My husband and I met with the principal and the teacher yesterday afternoon and, wow. I am still reeling from it.

Our position was: We agree with your goal to match each student with teachers and other students that are a good match for them (the words of the principal in a past newsletter). We are here because a mistake was made in classroom placement, and it needs to be fixed. To do so would maximize academic success for our daughter. The classrooms are balanced now, and so moving one child will not significantly harm one teacher's workload/classroom. A change would significantly enhance our daughter's classroom experience. The end.

Their position was: we are sad, you hurt our feelings, the teacher is very upset, we're concerned because you haven't asked your daughter (six years old) what she wants, we can't run a school by having every parent come and request room changes mid-year, we can't set that precedence, here is anecdotal evidence that suggests kids do well even if classrooms are bad, whine, cry, sniff.

Sorry, but the level of emotion on their side was VERY HIGH. It was truly awe-inspiring to watch adults - professionals! - behave in such a way. Where's the coping skills? Where's the priority for the child's education? Where's the rationality? Criticism is a tool which can bring forth positive changes. Unless you only want to surround yourself with sycophants and hear wonderful things. In which case, one would not learn and grow.

I had to discuss why we wanted her moved, which meant talking about teaching style, classroom environment, and behavior. Over and over, I said it wasn't personal. I said it wasn't that she is a bad teacher. I said that it was about proper classroom placement. A mistake was made, simply.

This was not met with glee. In fact, it was entirely personal to them. It's too bad they took it that way. Really, no one had to be upset. Sadness over such a great kid (hee hee!) leaving one's room, but there should not be hard feelings.

At one point, I pointed out that school district policy allows parents the right to request teacher placement for the next school year. Numerous times before I brought this up, he said we would NOT be allowed to request a teacher each year.

I'm glad at least I know the school policy!

The teacher was upset, but her arguments were rational. She said that she would consider whether or not there was more harm than good by staying, versus the harm from a transition. Exactly! That's how I was thinking of it. I regret she felt bad about it, but I did nothing to directly make her feel badly. It's unfortunate that a mistake was made with classroom placement, but now it will be much better for OC.

Which is the entire point of it all!

We don't want to do any more mid-year switches, which the principal was afraid. The goal would be to have it sorted out correctly up front. That is what I plan to do by visiting each higher grade teacher's classroom and continue to volunteer and be a presence in the school so that I'm familiar with them and can constructively assist the placement process.

Go, us.


Nicole said...

You're awesome. Seriously. I wish every kid in the world had an adult advocate, to fight for them like you are doing. You have a very lucky kid.

- Nicole

dkgoodman said...

Off topic: I love the quote you have by Howard Thurman advising people to come alive. :)

Little Things said...

Glad you got this sorted out - I've been rooting for you!

True North said...


Are you interested in some graphic design work? If so, please drop me a line.

nicole at true north parenting dot com

Tiggerlane said...

Sheesh. I have done VERY well at restraining myself. Very well. I know in my small town, that the squeaky wheel gets her child ostracized, so I'm saving my battle for an issue that is life-threatening.

I despise the school system and the attitdues we have to deal with at times. Luckily, my kid is fairly resilient.

But, to give you an example that is horrifying - a student at our school was sodomized by other students on a bus after a sports trip. What happened to the offenders? NOTHING. The parents are still involved in a lawsuit, a year later...and the kid had to change schools.

So, in this hick town, I'm saving my big guns for later.