Monday, October 27, 2008

In Which Jami Horrifies Two Lovely Young Teachers

I'm in serious overload mode with Girl Scout stuff right now. So I do not have time to craft a pleasant fiction in which I do not behave like a boor to those poor teachers. Background for those of you who missed the first post on this subject. Here we go! Details. Rough draft style.

I think I've frightened my mother off forever by bringing up the specter of Mr. Marshall which frees me up to discuss my crazy educational protectionism without fear of giving my sweet mother an aneurysm as she suppresses the urge to tell me off in front of the entire world.

ANYWAY...I met with V's two teachers last Monday after school. They had a nice neat rubric, with the smiley face, :), the flat line face :|, and the frownie face :(. They were certain that if they explained that the frownie face meant something other than "I'm mad/I don't like you/You have displeased me" that I'd say "OH! Thanks for explaining that. Whew! Glad we got that cleared up." Um, sorry, I'm crazier than that. A smile is a universal symbol for friendly acceptance while the frownie face is the universal symbol for "unable to complete assignment as given?" I think not.

So they kept saying, "Well, that's what we do."

And I kept saying, "Well, you can do it, but not to my kid. You aren't allowed to make her cry. I don't care if it is wimpy and silly that she cries over a frownie face. She's six, my friends."

Finally, I bent a bit. "OK, you can put a frownie face on her homework, but you can't let her see it. You can mail it home to me or stick it in an envelope and I'll get it," which was an unacceptable solution for them. They want the child to understand that they didn't complete the assignment correctly. Okey-dokey. More negotiations ensued until finally we settled on "1" = :( . Whew, glad we got that cleared up.

[OK Crash Test Dummy this next sentence is for you.] Nevermore shall my darling receive massive sorrowing visages marring her pulchritudinous, puerile endeavors toward scholarship.*

Then I told them I hated their reading program. That went over really well. I asked if there were any alternatives. Nope? OK...moving on then.

V's attention-seeking behavior? Ah yes. We locked her in a closet for six years, never paying any attention to her, and now she's a bit clingy. I sympathized with them. She does really seem to be a black hole for love. I told them that if they pay attention to her when she is making mistakes and acting up that she was likely to continue.

Did they want to keep trying what they have been doing or consider other options? My suggestions? They could have her move to a different classroom when she is seeking attention inappropriately, they could carry her in a baby backpack all day, whispering sweet words of encouragement and affection, or they could try something of their chosing that didn't involve frownie faces.

So then we discussed district standards for first grade which are the state second grade standards moved down a grade. That was fun. We discussed the wisdom of high pressure learning in the lower grades which led directly into the V's only attending their school because I need her out of the house during the day. Poor ladies, trying so hard to be nice to the crazy woman who pops this HORROR on them!

I offered reassurance. We totally follow their little homework routine for the hour and a half it takes to get done, roughly the same amount of time we'd spend on an entire day of homeschool. We parted on reasonable terms, but I would have paid hard, cold cash to be a fly on the wall for the conversation that followed our meeting.

In summary [that's also for CTD] they did not harm me, I didn't really stand on the desk and do a Tarzan yell, and security was not required to drag me off.

The end. For now. Until I get my knickers in a twist again.

*Translation: No more huge frownies on my V's beautiful, immature efforts at worksheets.


Annette Lyon said...

The more I hear these kinds of horror stories, the more I think my kids have got the only sane, qualified, and actually educational grade school in the world. Thank heavens.

Melanie J said...

At least you're involved. I taught in a low income school and I could always tell the handful of kids whose parents bothered to find out what was going on. Gold star for you!

The Crash Test Dummy said...

YaY for non-pleasant non-fiction. I like it so much better than pleasant fiction. And YaY for crazy mom's who love Winnie the Pooh, and Tiger too, and who don't allow teachers to scowl at their daughters in writing, even if it is a rubric. (btw, I think I'm going to try that rubric with my students. It would save me a lot of explanations).

And YaY for scary titles. Are you going to enter that in the contest?

You negotiated a #1 = :( Good Job. Because then you're daughter may misunderstand and think she's actually #1. Good strategy. You gotta love rhetoric.

And Thanks for giving me my own sentence. I understood it all until you got to the scholarship part.

That was pretty awesome writing for a rough draft.

Do they make those baby back packs in XXL?

Did you know Susie Q's husband's head is cut off in her profile pic. That's rude. You should say something.

PS Can't wait until you get your knickers in a twist again!!


Papa D said...

It is hard for me, as a former teacher and still an educator at heart, to read this. It really hurts - deeply.

Fwiw, I also would have loved to be a fly on the wall. I probably would have paid for that privilege. (Then, I probably would have found their cupcakes and walked all over on them.)

Heidi Ashworth said...

Yay! success! As I have said before, my husband is an elementary school teacher and if a parent had a problem with something like a frownie face (which he would never do to begin with) he would say, no big deal, I'll do it different for your kid. Or even all the kids. What's the big deal? I think these teachers have egos that are way too involved. Sorry. I don't mean to get your undies in a bunch.

Heidi Ashworth said...

That is, I meant to say, in a twist.

Jami said...

Annette, it's a fine place and they are working hard with a rather economically and linguistically challenged group of kids and parents but still I wish V could be home.

Melanie: I LOVE gold stars!

Ray, I worried about hurting your feelings. Do you mean the post hurt, because of my attitude or theirs or some combination thereof?

Heidi, they do a lot of group decisions in our school. FWIW, I blame NCLB, not the teachers or the school. I think I would like your husband.

Jami said...

CTD: I gave my sister (a teacher) a skunk stamp to use for her incompletes.

I probably won't write a scary story. I'm such a spook wimp. And I'm crazy busy. The prizes are so tempting though.

Yeah, the "1" compromise should keep the tears and tirades o a minimum.

Glad you liked the sentence. Thought I'd pull out the gunny sack for that one! What's your alternate word for scholarship?

On the roughness of my draft, I've been pecking at here and there. Fixing my missed punctuation/missing verbs, etc. Like fragments though. They get to stay. Thought about breaking up that massive sentence about my mom and Mr. Marshall. Decided against it. You know the drill.

No, I don't think baby backpacks do come that big, but you could probably rig some sort of wrap carrier with a few yards of material though.

How do I tell Susie that she's lost her head (and her husband's as well)? I hardly know her. I'd hate to put a wedge between us so early in our blog-ationship.

mindyluwho said...

I can't believe they do that with the faces. And to make them so big...I mean a little one in the corner maybe if they really feel they have to grade that way, but to cover the whole page??? Good for you for not giving in!

Youngblood4ever said...

You rock! That is the way to be a mom. I don't think we need to shelter our kids, but WE are the parents. I sometimes wonder if teachers think we are overbearing parents if we are even remotely involved or interested in our child's education. You did a great job helping your child. Impressive, very impressive.

Heidi Ashworth said...

Yes, Jami, I believe you would. He's very sweet.

Jami said...

Mindylouwho! You came. I'm so happy to see you here. I'd have to agree that I wouldn't have gotten nearly as flipped out about a tiny frownie face. V wouldn't have either.

YB4E, I so don't rock, but thank you. It's always hard to strike that balance between protecting and stifling. It's nice to know I am not alone in the universe for thinking that grading code needed revision.