01 October 2012

Really? Again?!?

Today, I walked into A1's classroom and once again there were 2 groups doing exactly the same worksheet.  A1's group was with a parent struggling to keep up while the second group sailed through the material with a another parent whose first and possibly sole language is English.  I started checking the answers on the worksheet and the kids in A1's (clearly inferior) group had so many incorrect responses written down!  They weren't even systemically incorrect--totally random answers amongst kids who were supposedly engaged in a group activity.  So for that sort of miserable result, they might as well be tasked with independent work at their own desk.  James says that's what it comes down to: there will be times in A1's life when he will have poor instructors and whether he understands the material at hand is dependent upon his own innate skills and determination.  I understand and agree with James' statement, but I'm still extremely bothered by this setup wherein parents with highly discrepant skill sets administer identical programs with vastly different results.  I mean, if there were no option, then I'd understand it--or at least, I would have no choice but to accept it.  The difference here is that there is a better option; it's merely not been extended to my child.  See?  Seething justified, right?

Actually, this isn't the 2nd time I've witnessed this circumstance in our scant 18 days of school.  There was an occasion between the first time and this when I took half the second graders.  The fellow parent who ran the other group not only gave less during the lesson (any time someone doesn't expand beyond the written material in a GATE classroom is LESS to me), she actually gave less of the lesson itself!  There was a a geography portion of the exercise and it called for use of a globe.  I grabbed one of the classroom globes and she did not.  Obviously, I covered more material than her.  It wasn't as if we had run out of time--she just dismissed her kids early while mine kept working on the assignment.  She didn't like that we were outside and it was getting so sunny (once again, we'll talk about those giant Asian-lady visors later).

How is any of this fair?  How does any of it make sense?  It defies logic.

But maybe the "setup" isn't important.  What's important is what I do about it.

Do I go to the teacher to express my concerns?  I'm afraid this will merely result in bad feelings between us because having small parent-led groups has historically been her style and it's unlikely that she would ever change.  Resistance is, in fact, futile.

Do I intercept poor instruction by being there myself?  Um...no. I don't think I can.  My over-involvement in the classroom has been a problem from the start.  Maybe the answer is completely the opposite.  Maybe I should stop going into the classroom altogether so that I can experience the out-of-sight-out-of-mind phenomenon.  I mean, if the situation is impervious to change, then why stress myself out.  As James says, he'll either get or he won't.

This parent, against whom I harbor no ill will whatsoever, graciously volunteers her time and energy at the same time every week.  I'm pretty ready to sign A1 out of school early every time so that I can instruct him myself.

ARGH!  I'm at a loss for proper solutions.

Here are unrelated happy shots of A1 with part of his den with birdhouse they made from scratch (okay, James cut out the wood for them, but that's about it) in 100 degree weather and A2 building a Lego Avengers set.


Michelle said...

As a parent concerned about the quality of her son's education, you're well within your right to inform the teacher of your concerns.

Not everyone is cut out to be a teacher, whether as a credentialed teacher, a homeschooling parent, or a volunteer in a classroom. It's not a criticism of character; it's fact. In this case, a parent's enthusiasm can only compensate so much for poor overall instruction. (Because let's face it, it takes a fair amount of enthusiasm, as well as dedication, to volunteer at all.)

Ivan Chan Studio said...

James has a point, but I would disagree that it applies here. Yes, there will be (many) situations where he will have to fend for himself (especially later in life), and that's part of life. However, you are aware of this situation, he cannot advocate for himself effectively, and you have both the ability to do something as well as the desire (and integrity) to do something.

I think you would be taking the higher ground if you said something rather than remained silent (which is tacit approval). You have the skills to present the situation and your interpretation without incurring defensiveness (and if you did incur it, I trust in your ability to assuage), and then to work on an acceptable solution.

This doesn't make you an overinvolved or high maintenance parent. It makes you part of the (educational) community that holds its members accountable and to certain standards. If your children weren't doing their homework or were misbehaving, wouldn't the teacher have a conference with you to work out a solution, too?

If you do choose not to say anything, I don't think it will affect A1's learning in the bigger picture, but I don't think it will sit well with you.

Michelle said...

Rereading this blog entry and just got totally excited to realize that A2 is playing with the same Lego set I bought (for myself) this past week! /dork :)

Lam said...

Yay for buying Legos for yourself as an adult! My father always said they were "boys' toys" so I longed for them desperately as a child!