Professor Mom

Chronicles the life of a mom, teacher, and writer trying to stay sane amid the chaos of daily life.



Omaha Mama's picture Omaha Mama

I get it. I really do. And would've been upset by it.
L's mastery of skills may never look like typical mastery, but it is, just the same. He is a smart cookie.
I'm sorry about your disillusion and have nothing to offer in terms of comfort. I just hope that as the materials get more challenging through the years that he will be inspired. He will do great in the upper years, when his intense subject knowledge will be on spotlight.

Aliki McElreath's picture Aliki McElreath

Thank, Omaha--I've heard that high school can be very successful for kids like L. Our fear is that he'll get so disillusioned with school that he won't make it that far! His self-esteem has really been hurt this year and I've seen the other end of it--I've seen what poor self-esteem over school can do to 18 and 19-year olds...

mouse's picture mouse

We've been luckier in our experience--so far. Kindergarten here is not immune from the pressure of No Child, but there's some balance, so still time for some projects. But I have started to see some of the let-down just this past week. There's a real pressure for all the kids to be reading by year-end, so Scooter's teacher has started to really focus on the ones who are struggling, at the expense of the readers, my son in particular. Instead of getting 4-5 opportunities to read with the teacher each week, he's getting more like 1 or 2--he's always the last one and doesn't get a chance when they run out of time.

I get it from the perspective of the teacher looking for the greatest return and trying to get everyone past the lowest bar. I don't envy the teacher the task of trying to balance all of this. But as a parent, I'm seeing my son miss out on one of his favorite activities and I hear the frustration when he tells me he's been reading the same book for two weeks now (not because he's struggling with it, but because he's barely had the chance to touch it).

I'm hopeful that we will see some substantive changes in No Child that allow teachers to return to creative projects and to move away from pushing kids to learn things that they may not be developmentally ready for (some kindergartners' brains are simply not ready for the complex skill of reading, but they're being made to feel dumb already).

Aliki McElreath's picture Aliki McElreath

You really said it well, mouse.

L.'s class has been working through a longer chapter book for WEEKS now and L. really wants to read ahead and finish the thing already but they have to put it away after only one chapter per reading time and it's taking forever. I try not to fault his teacher because she's been struggling to make up for lots of time she missed because of health issues. But as a result I'm sure she has to frantically get them ready for EOG and all chances at creative projects have slipped through the cracks. The other 3rd grade classes are doing a tad more creative work--but just a tad more.

I hope things continue to go well for Scooter--I know you've had successes so far!

kt0775's picture kt0775

Just found your blog today. Moments ago. I will book mark it for sure. I have a 3rd grader in a public school. I'm screaming, why am I not getting any papers home. Why do I feel like I am homeschooling him in the evenings. Why isn't there any communication from the teachers that he has a test coming up.

Since the first report card and since he got a D in social studies, I have since not taken it for granted that they will inform me when I need to be informed. After that report card, I was all over the phone finding out what is going on. I don't want his grade change, I am sure that is what he got. But hello, how can we change it. I am now in contact with the teachers know when tests are coming up through notes to me and emails. I am taking it upon myself to teach my child how to study for a test and not rely on the school. Since then he's been getting A's on his tests.

I love your blog and will read them all. Thank you for you honesty. It's hard to come to terms that my child isn't excelling in school on his own.

Katy in Michigan

Sherry L.'s picture Sherry L.

I understand your frustration, I have three children in school at different levels and have also recently completed research on the NCLBA, I felt that the focus is primarily upon assuring that our children reach average or above average status, not necessarily promoting that they aim higher. That is up to individual teachers. The act provides many solutions for the children who are falling behind however there is very little focus on the above average student. Some students struggle in school because of outside influences or disabilities and this should and is being addressed, however some are just bored and are not motivated by the average process. While the school system has a responsibility to assure that all of our children receive a quality education they are in effect leaving many children behind. Progress has been made in improving teacher quality, curriculum and attending to the disadvantaged children; however we must now start looking toward the entire student body. My hope is that the new administration that now has the task of reauthorizing the NCLBA will broaden the focus to include more programs that will benefit the educational future of all of our children. Hopefully this will include the fact that all children do not learn in the same way. This should open up the door for those more creative activities. I do think that using proven curriculum is not such a bad thing but how it is taught is where there should be more flexibility.

Aliki McElreath's picture Aliki McElreath

Thank you, both of you, for your thoughtful responses. I don't object to using proven curriculum at all--I think you're right, Sherry--it can be very beneficial. But I do think NCLB has failed so many kids for all the reasons you mention. I also hope the new administration will act quickly to reverse some of the damage, so we can move ahead for this next generation.