Saturday, November 6, 2010

Another round of Parent-Teacher Conferences

Ah, nothing like a parent-teacher conference to shatter my illusion of well-being and complacency! Thursday evening I was already tired from a long week at work but had to rush home to shower and change and get to my evening conference with Logan's teacher. I wanted to be relaxing in my chair, but instead sat in a tiny 2nd grader chair processing words like "intervention" and "occupational therapy" and "hearing problems." Logan's issues with reading have apparently gone well beyond what I previously thought. I still believe his issues mostly stem from lack of interest and plain stubbornness. However, I also see that if we don't do something soon the reading issue will become major. The teacher went on and on about budget cuts and how Logan's not critical enough to be placed in the existing intervention programs. That basically means he CAN read Hop on Pop, but once he attempts anything past beginner level he struggles. The thing about Logan is he doesn't even ATTEMPT to read words he doesn't immediately recognize. It doesn't occur to him to sound them out. He just skips them and the story makes no sense and therefore he can't comprehend what he just "read."

As far as Logan's hearing issues, he's been to the district audiologist several times and we've been told his hearing is at the low end of normal range due to fluid buildup. He doesn't have nerve damage, he needs tubes. Then I go to the pediatrician and they either put him on amoxicillin (which does nothing) or flat-out refuse to see him (that's happened twice.) I'm on my third pediatrician and none will recommend him to an ear, nose and throat specialist! I don't know what to do! I guess I'll go back one more time and insist and demand and cry until I get the appointment. Maybe I'll try our family doctor. He's never had issues sending Gene or me to a specialist.

Meanwhile, I posted a question about Sylvan Learning Center regarding tutoring. I assumed it would be expensive but one person who replied had her 2nd grade son tested and estimated it would cost between $13,000-$15,000! That's approximately TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS more than I had guessed!!! And that was NOT one on one help, it was a small group that included snack breaks. Um, no. I have a friend at the zoo who works as a school counselor and has done tutoring and I will beg her for help on Sunday. She's much younger than Logan's teacher and hopefully knows some young teachers willing to tutor for a lot less than $15,000.

Kaylin, on the other hand... My disorganized child has pulled herself together in her first grading period of middle school! I was shocked at her change! She had 11 letter grades on her report card and 10 were As with one B in Effort. She was very disappointed with the B, but sheesh! I'm not! In middle school you just line up at the different teachers' classrooms and wait your turn for conferences. It sucks. It was nice to be able to talk to all the different teachers, though. The mystery of the Effort B was never solved. Each teacher claimed "they" had given her an Effort A so it must have been the Social Studies teacher. (Her English teacher actually said that, lol.) Anyway, I spent more than 2 hours at Kaylin's school, most of it waiting in line.

I had assumed her Effort grade came from her Accelerated Reading (AR) points being low. She always hated AR in primary school and always had low points despite reading constantly at home. I sat down with the English teacher and glanced at the printout, thinking Kaylin had 2.9 AR points. Nope. It was 29! Far more than required for her A. Probably more than she had in 3rd and 4th grades combined! It was just class after class of compliments about her work, her attitude and her (gasp!) organization. This is ALL Kaylin's effort! I've told her over and over that I refuse to nag her endlessly about her school work. She can choose to take responsibility for herself or she can deal with the consequences. Ultimately she'll be an adult and nobody will care about her grades in 5th grade. They will care about hard work and personal drive. Being born with natural intelligence is a gift to be treasured, but without the drive to push yourself to do what you love the gift will be squandered and you will be passed like crazy by the C students you previously found yourself superior to...

As for the B in Effort, I feel simultaneously furious and happy for the tough life lesson. Obviously, these stupid teachers don't realize Kaylin should get an A+++++++ in Effort! The kid has made an incredible change in attitude! Of course, the teachers don't know any of that, they see her amazing ISAT test scores and assume her As came easy. This is a good lesson about life NOT being fair and sometimes never getting a satisfying answer to why things happen the way they do. Does a 10-year-old need that lesson? Sigh.

The sad news from Kaylin's school was that Art is going to be replaced with more Writing. The students as a whole are struggling with writing so the Social Studies teacher who previously held one art class a week will now have a writing class instead. Puke. Stupid test scores! Ack, test scores are a whole other post! My other sad news was I got caught up in excitement talking with the science teacher about the upcoming animal unit and accidentally revealed I'm a zookeeper resulting in the unwanted invitation to COME SPEAK TO THE CLASS!!!!!! Shudder.

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