Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Second grade revisited; Teacher conference frets

Second grade for me was when I really decided that I hated school. Not coincidentally, this was the time when play time ended, and real, actual school work began. I hated second grade. In fact, I still feel claustrophobic when I think of sitting at my dining room table and writing number after number on a sheet of paper. We had these long strips, and each strip was to have numbers written, something like 50 to a strip, up to 1000. 1000, people! If I even think about it now, I start to hyperventilate. I hated second grade, and most grades of elementary school thereafter. I remember sitting there, just being bored all the damn time. And never writing down my homework assignments. And seriously, just not giving a shit.

And now we cut to 26 years later where my own child is in second grade. He’s doing wonderfully, although he hates that he has to read specific books rather than something he would choose (Star Wars) on a nightly basis, and struggles with writing down his homework. Generally though, he likes school. I have a problem with his homework. So much of it is of the “complete with your parents” variety and it’s making me crazy. I swear, I am having flashbacks. The thought of doing second grade homework makes me twitch. It’s all in my head, I know. But it is a big struggle for me to not let my anxiety out when sitting at a table completing work with Bud. It’s hard, man.

Related to school, I have 2 problems with our teacher conferences that I am not sure how to address. I asked what Bud needed to do to increase his effort marks from 3’s to 4’s. The teacher advised that most everyone gets 3’s because they do a lot of group work. It’s not one specific thing that Bud is doing or not doing. This kind of blows my mind. Not that we’ve given him any sort of hard time about his report card, but we have just sort of assumed it was because of his lax approach to everything in the world. He’s the kind of kid who does most things well without trying. So we assumed that Lucy’s 4’s were because she does things very well, but often has to put in a lot of effort to get the results she wants. Now that theory is all shot to hell. And I know it’s not a 1st grade compared to 2nd grade thing, because Bud has had the same teacher for both years.

The second problem was with Lucy’s conference. I love her teacher, I love that Lucy loves school, and I love that Lucy does very well in school. Here is what her teacher said to us “I meet with each student daily to talk about their progress in their reading and writing. The exception is Lucy, who I meet with maybe once or twice a week. She is so far ahead that she doesn’t need it. And she doesn’t mind that I spend the time with the other students. She enjoys working independently.” Now I know Lucy, and I know that this is true. If you tell her to work with her sister to get her room cleaned, she will insist on doing it herself because she can do it better alone. Here is my problem: there will come a point when she is no longer so ahead of the curve. What if you’re so confident in her abilities that you miss it? I mean, this is probably not something that I have to worry about in 1st grade but situations like this bring out the worrier in me. I love my independent over-achiever. I do not want her to slip through any cracks.


Misty said...

Bud: 3s vs 4s seems subjective and it probably just depends on the teacher actually assigning the number.

Lu: You are right in that she will not always be ahead of the curve. But maybe you can count on Lucy never letter herself slip through any cracks. It doesn't sound like she is the kind of girl to handle difficulties quietly. I bet she would talk to you about it. You guys have a good relationship.

Anonymous said...

I also think that while Lu is a rock star, it does not mean she should have to sacrifice one-on-one time with the teacher, however brief, just because she is doing well. Is there nothing the teacher can do (or have Lu do) "extra" that they could discuss in that brief time?

StephLove said...

I can see why that would bother you. Every child needs to be met and challenged at his/her own level and this means they all need individual attention.

Shalini said...

Totally agree with why you'd be bothered. I used to not mind that the "problem" kids got more attention, but eventually there WAS a problem and that was...not good. You're a good mom to notice this so early.

Laura Diniwilk said...

You had to write out numbers on strips of paper? What the eff? Busywork is THE WORST.

The 3s vs. 4s thing would bother me. Grades should be entirely within the student's control...if there's a lot of group work, the effort marks should only reflect non-group work. But I'm sure it's much easier to just slap a 3 on everyone and call it a day.