Doling Out the Medicine During Parent-Teacher Interviews

Boy-ReadingThis isn’t as easy to do as you might think.  Telling a child’s parent{s} that their child is a constant disruption and distraction in class for you, the teacher, and the class, is not easy medicine to take or to give.  No one wants to state that a child is disrespectful, rude, doesn’t care about doing their work, and anything else that happens in class with a child.  Seriously, I’d love to be able to tell every parent who walks into my classroom for their interview that their child is a dream and hard-working, too.  I’m not referring to academic ability or intellect.  We are who we are.  When a child is trying her best to learn but the work is very difficult, then it is our responsibility to put a formal educational plan in place for her. When the work is difficult, but in working hard and staying focused, the child can succeed to the best of his personal ability, I’m satisfied with that.

I used to have a hairdresser who told me that when he sent his children to school, if they didn’t get straight “A’s“, they would be grounded and have other consequences. I tried hard to talk him out of that mindset.  Very few children in Ontario receive straight “A’s.”  In fact our provincial standard achievement (meaning the majority of students across the province) is a B.  The latter states that the child is bright, hard-working and doing just fine.  scholarshipAn A is nearly impossible.  This is well beyond the provincial standard and often these children get recommended for what we call the “Challenge Program” by grade 3 Or, the student has the option of enrolling in French Immersion class, whereby beginning in grade 4, all lessons are learned in French for the morning, and English for the afternoon, until grade 5, after which time the entire school day is taught in French.  If your average B child can qualify for that program, then we must be doing something wrong.

My three nieces are straight A students.  Needless to say, they have all completed the French Immersion program and are fluently bilingual.  I remember Janice, the eldest niece, being filled with excitement when she got her first C She couldn’t wait to brag about it.

Good job!”  I gave her the thumbs up.  That’s how bright a child has to be to achieve straight A’s.  Never a C before French Immersion in her life.  She didn’t understand the concept of homework, either.  She would look at her friends in wonder and ask them why they brought schoolwork home.  Janice wasn’t being sarcastic.  She really didn’t get it (probably the only thing she hasn’t understood in her life).

Last year when I was teaching a split 1 / 2 class, I had a very unusual mother attend an intervieBully-Free-Zone-Sign-K-7059w.  Her child, a strong B+ student, wasn’t achieving as well as she should, in her mother’s opinion.  She believed her daughter could achieve A’s if only her work was more difficult.  She wanted me to place her on a more challenging program.  This necessitates formal testing and, if the child is indeed too advanced for her current grade level, she is given an IEP (Individual Education Plan) to accommodate her needs.  Naomi wasn’t an advanced child.  She was bright, worked hard, paid attention, and was a teacher’s dream come true in the classroom, but she wasn’t a child who required a curriculum beyond her current grade.  Her mother was adamant.

She is going to medical school,” she insisted about her 7-year-old child.  “We have big plans for her.”  I explained our grading system and showed Naomi’s mother the curriculum strands that detailed her level of achievement.  Her mother didn’t want to see it.  “She isn’t trying hard enough. A harder curriculum will help her.” This curriculum hasn’t been put in place since it isn’t needed.  Naomi will spend her elementary school years hearing from her mother that she doesn’t work hard enough, and isn’t taking her distant future seriously.

Poor kid.

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