Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Batter Up!

So, as a mother you gotta stick up for your kiddos, right?

We are now in the 4th week of school and today was oldest daughter's first day in a new classroom. Let me fill you in:

The Thursday before school began was meet the teacher night. The husband and I attended with oldest daughter and with middle daughter and little son in tow. We were informed that the teacher she had been assigned (and the one that we had requested because of her awesome reputation as a teacher) was now the official 1st grade ELD teacher- for all the Spanish-speaking students- so oldest daughter was re-assigned to a different teacher.

OK, so we went into this new teacher's class room. It was bare- NOTHING on the walls. Oh, except for an alphabet strip above the dry-erase board. That is all- an alphabet strip. In my head I was like, "Huh?" But outwardly I was presenting an open-minded front. As we met the teacher we learned that she recently graduated from college, somewhere in the mid west. She just arrived in our state 2 weeks prior to the start of school, the ink still wet on her diploma.

Leaving her classroom I was hoping that there would be more to her than what was presented. I was a little let-down and skeptical of what she could pull together in just the few short days before the actual start of school.

First day of school dawns. We take the required photos of oldest daughter with brand new school uniform, back pack and Hannah Montana shoes, load all the children in the car and set off for a top notch first grade education.

As we entered oldest classroom, I saw what new teacher had pulled together for the actual start of school. Um, nothing. Same ol' alphabet strip and that's pretty much it. I was hoping for more, I'm not gonna lie. The husband and I exchanged nervous glances, took a photo of oldest daughter with new teacher, kissed and hugged her (oldest daughter, not new teacher) and left our offspring in the hands of a green teacher with a naked classroom.

Fast forward 3 weeks: oldest daughter comes home each day (the ones where I remember to pick her up) very down on school. She "hates school." This is something new to our home. She loved school last year! She had an awesome teacher that we all love. Last year the only time she would voice any opposition to school attendance was when I first woke her up in the morning. (she didn't know what she was saying, she was still practically asleep) But this year, it is constant. First thing she says when she wakes up. Second and third thing she says when she wakes up, etc., and last thing she says as she gets out of the car when I drop her off. Then, all is repeated at 3:00 when i pick her up.

Last Tuesday was my first day helping in the classroom. I like to go once a week for a couple hours to help out. I sure was not prepared for this class. I can't even tell you everything I witnessed, you would not believe me. Believe me. So, I will highlight the standout issues. Upon entering the classroom, this is what I witness:
  • children roaming around the class while the majority is sitting at the back carpet for spelling review
  • teacher teaching to 3-4 students while others are under tables and tuned out
  • class returns to desk for math lesson
  • one little girl painting nails
  • one little boy cutting paper
  • one little boy lying on floor
  • one little girl squirting lying boy in the face with her water bottle
  • one little girl eating chips
  • 4-5 little girls and boys trying to get chip girl's attention so they can share the bounty
  • one little girl falling asleep on desk
  • the majority of the little boys and girls disrupted by all that is happening
  • one little boy playing with cars on his desk
  • one little boy facing completely the opposite direction of the lesson
  • chit chat all around the room
  • little girls and boys getting up and leaving the classroom to go potty
  • no attempt to bring the class to order during math lesson
  • no worksheet given to apply concepts taught

The class then adjourned to the carpet at the back of the room for story time. They were to read a short book and answer questions. The book began, the children were rowdy, the children were under tables, the children were talking and bothering their neighbors, etc, etc, etc.

A half hour after the story time began I left to go home. The book was still unfinished. It was a picture book. Should have taken maybe 10 minutes to read. (I was in the class for 2 hours and these three things are all that were accomplished in that time.)

When I picked up oldest daughter from school I asked her how the book ended. She didn't know. They never finished it. I understood her lack of enthusiasm for school.

The next morning I put in a call for the principal. Her voice mail said she would get back to me within 24 hours. 72 hours and 3 calls later, still no word from the principal. Finally I walked into the school requesting to see the principal. After meeting with her and demanding (sounds all "in your face", but not so much) that oldest daughter be given a new teacher, I went home again. I was feeling bad for this new teacher. She needs help, direction, supplies. And I know this teacher will improve as she gets the teacher skills she needs. But I cannot afford to let my daughter be in a situation that is constantly bringing her down while we are waiting for this teacher to come around.

Yesterday I met with the principal to sign papers for a transfer to a new class, met the newly assigned teacher, and explained my reasons for pulling oldest daughter to the little green teacher.

I feel for her. I have arranged with her to go in and help for a 1/2 hour each week.

When the husband and I told oldest daughter that she would be changing classes, she smiled. She is excited. She will thrive in this new teacher's class. I am excited. I am hopeful. I am drained.

It is scary to face people. I don't like confrontation. I want everyone to be happy. I am proud of myself for going to bat for my sweet oldest daughter. I would do it again.

P.S. Sorry this one is so long. Thanks for reading.


Shannon said...

Good for you. I'm impressed, you not only went to bet for your daughter, you've attempted to be a solution to the problem by helping the new teacher. Give yourself a gold star!

uniquelynat said...

i really think you are amazing to do all that. cause i'm the same as you...do not like confrontation and all that. but really that's what it is to be a parent i guess. no one else is going to do that for your daughter so you must. way to go. and i agree... gold star for you!!!

Ruth P said...

We had a similar "going to bat" experience with our oldest. My friend told me that know one will fight for your kid but you. So I did (with help of hubby) and now our oldest is somewhere else, happy, safe, and thriving.

Ginny said...

wow. I hope Quincy loves her new class and I hope you feel more comfortable with her in the new class. I really hope when I'm a teacher in my first year parents don't look at me in the way....but then again, I think I will have more than an alphabet strip on the wall. Way to go to volunteer to go in and help her out. You're real nice.

Jessica said...

I am in schools everyday throughout the state and am not at all surprised about your observations. it is really sad but I see it more often than not--out of control classes with teachers seemingly oblivious. I walked into a 5th grade classroom today and had to wake the teacher up. His class was in his room just chattin' away while he got some z's. No joke. Unbelievable.

Sarah said...

Oh that's so sad!!! I have such mixed feelings because I've been a brand new teacher and it's TOTALLY intimidating - even if you felt like you knew what you were doing. However, poor new teacher needs to have some support from the school/district/someone. And perhaps that will be better noticed as more parents call that to the attention of the principal. Congrats for being the best advocate for your kid. Preschool starts next week - and I already have lots more than an alphabet strip!

big_smartmouth said...

ok, first off, don't feel bad! this is your childs education we're talking about. you need to put her in the best learning situation as possible. you did the right thing. no guilt needed. second, yes, i feel bad for the teacher, but i have friends and family who are teachers who would be shocked at this ladys actions. even when they were green themselves, they would never let things slide like that as a teacher. again, good on ya'. maybe this is the wake up call this poor teacher needs to change her "methods" around!

your #1 fan~


trublubyu said...

jessica- that is crazy. i would be so embarrassed if i was the sleeping teacher. ugh.