Last night began a three-day school conference extravaganza. With six kids at five schools, it requires a flow chart to figure out where and when each conference is being held. Each of the kids has more than one teacher, so there are lots of conversations to be had.
I thought I had communicated some of my children’s unique needs fairly well through the school counselors, but last night it became apparent that I should have connected more directly with the teachers.
All of the kids are doing well in school – who knew it would be such a good adjustment? But one of my sweet ones is struggling and barely passing a math class. This child’s other grades are quite good, except for this class.
I sat across from the teacher looking at missed assignments, failed quizzes, and barely passed tests. The teacher was frustrated because the child seemed to be lacking initiative to retake quizzes and get a better grade. We began to talk about homework and I explained that we planned a study hall for the end of the day in order to avoid conflicts over homework at home. Our past experience is that homework has led to huge problems and we’ve chosen to focus on nurture, structure and family at home, without the stress of homework.
She looked a little perplexed and I soon realized the teacher knew absolutely nothing about my child. No information had been communicated, including our request for a 504 plan. She said, “I was a special-ed teacher for 15 years; if I had known any of this I would have approached (your child) differently.” She got on the phone and called the 504 coordinator (who just happened to be her husband), and the three of us had a great conversation about getting some support in place.
As we were wrapping up, she got tears in her eyes and said, ” I am so sorry, I wish I had known this before. I hope I haven’t already damaged my relationship with (your child) so much that I can’t turn it around.” I assured her that we have made many mistakes, but that once we’ve learned what we need to know, we’ve been able to head in a new direction.
As I got up to leave the table, she reached for my hand and with tears in her eyes, she said, “I really am so sorry.”
I can’t expect teachers to do what is necessary for my child to succeed if they don’t know my child’s needs. Lesson learned.
More conferences to come. By the way, I realize I haven’t told you all that Beza jumped from 7th grade to high school this fall. Crazy, I know, but a very good decision. I’ll write about that soon.
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