Friday, August 29, 2008

Parent Orientation Fatigue

I went to CB's 7th-grade parent orientation last night. This is the eighteenth parent orientation I've had the honor of attending. I'm getting to the point where I already know what the teacher is going to say before they even open their mouth. They always begin and end with a lot of talk about how at this age, our children are maturing and they are going through all these changes, how difficult it is for them, yada yada yada. I know my child is maturing. We live in the same house. I've noticed. Cut the crap and get to the point. I don't remember having these feelings at LP's 7th-grade orientation. I wonder how this all feels for people who have three, four, five children. Still, the handouts were very informative and the teachers were new to me as LP had been on a different team, and the techniques they used were also new that I don't remember from LP's days. I walked out with a burning sense of inadequacy as a Sunday School teacher. I'm taking fourth grade this year. I'm lucky if the kids will get through my accent when I read from the textbook to them. My wildest dream as a Sunday School teacher is that I manage to answer the kids' tricky questions in such a way that won't make irate parents call the principal and complain. Most of my religious views are quite unorthodox, pardon the pun. This is okay for me as a parisioner, a certain level of diversity is always expected. But I need to give the kids the mainstream. This is going to be hard. I'm not sure I even know what mainstream is. Novel teaching techniques? Please. You're talking to the wrong person. So from that point, I can say I enjoyed the conference.

Another thing that I don't remember hearing from LP's teachers was the point every teacher felt the need to make about next year's accelerated placement. They kept calling those classes "honor". It took all my willpower to keep my mouth shut. I had a powerful urge to stand up and cry bullshit. They are not honor classes. They are accelerated classes. Honor classes will not start till 9th grade. Further, it is not a matter of life and death that your child is recommended for all accelerated classes first thing in January 2009. It is harder, but you can still get into honor classes in 9th if you're in regular classes in 8th. On the last day of school this year, LP was approached with an offer to take honors history. He was never in 8th grade accelerated or 9th grade honors history. These things happen. Also, your child does not have to work himself to death/nervous breakdown to get the recommendation. One teacher said that he won't recommend anyone unless they get an A in each of the first two grading periods in his subjects. And that's only one of his requirements. If he plans on following through with this, he is dead wrong. I will spare you the dismal grades LP had in 7th grade and he was still recommended for accelerated math and science, and rightfully so, because, in spite of all the teenage/Aspie stuff going on with him, he still had the capacity. He is doing great now. Last but not least, and I will start a new paragraph for that one because it is important. I didn't know it with LP.

So. Last but not least, if your child did not get the teacher's recommendation for an accelerated/honors class, and you think he should be there, then in our district, you go to the high school counselor's office and get a small sheet of paper called the Parent Override Form. You write your child's name, grade, subject and sign it. That's it, you just got your child into an honor class. I had to do it with LP when his 8th grade math teacher would not give him a recommendation, and I felt that his 640 SAT score was a dead giveaway that he'd be bored to death in a regular classroom. He went to honors and did great. None of that was mentioned at the orientation yesterday. All the teachers did was scare the parents half to death and convince them their child will live in a cardboard box at age 40 if he doesn't get an A on his report at age 13. One actually said that the next two grading periods will affect their college studies. Bull.

CB's teachers all did a great job yesterday putting the fear of God into parents, and by extension, into kids. But I want the primary motivator for my children's school work to be interest, curiousity, not fear.

Towards the end, the parents were all supposed to gather in the auditorium for a presentation of all what they call exploratory subjects - music, gym, health, typing skills, consumer science. When we got to that point, I suddenly felt I couldn't be at this conference another minute. So I skipped out of it. Only four or five other families followed my example. I felt like I was skipping class, guilty but exhilarated.

LP's orientation is next week and I'm not going. I have parent orientation overload. Another one and I'll explode.

The Goldie has spoken at 11:07 AM

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