Saturday, January 17, 2009

Realizations and Affirmations

This week was full of them:

~ It shouldn't have come as a surprise to me, but it turns out one must counter-steer a LOT when sliding through a round-about....MUCH more than you would have to going down a straight road/street if the back end of your truck starts to fishtail. On a straight street, only your truck is trying to move sideways, so you counter-steer to straighten things back up again. On a round-about, not only is your vehicle moving sideways, the road is curving around too- a conspiracy, you might say. A test. A test I (thankfully) passed, surprising myself by how quickly and often I could grab and turn my steering wheel in a very short amount of time!

Has Alaska started incorporating round-abouts into their road repairs and construction? I hope not~ they're really NOT MUCH FUN, especially when they're coated with ice.

~ Handwritten paper report cards *followed by* data entry of those handwritten grades into a computer program is...may I say...redundant.

~ Automated phone calls from your child's high school can be pretty predictable... "Hello, this is ____________ from _____________ High School, calling to remind you of this week's PTO meeting, to be held in the library at six p.m. We hope to see you there." *click* or "This is the ____________ High Principal calling to inform you that our school will be closed today due to inclement weather. " *click*

It was a bit unnerving to hear the following after work one day this week:

"Hello, this is _____________, Principal of ______________ High, calling to inform you about an incident that occurred at school today. The _____________ Police Department was called to the school to take into custody a sixteen year old male student accused of sexually assaulting another student on campus. The victim notified school authorities and the suspect was taken into custody without incident. School officials and the families of those involved are cooperating with the police department's investigation. We encourage you to speak with your child tonight at home about the incident, and welcome you to spend time in our school building. Thank you."


Dear Daughter was fine. She knew that the police had been at her school, but she didn't know why. Dear Husband reviewed DD's personal safety strategies with her and we discussed her daily school schedule. She went to bed, at which time Dear Husband and I turned into our parents. "I remember when..." and "What in the world is happening..." Kids these days. Parents these days. Schools these days. We're at that point in our lives where our worries and concerns can start to outnumber our joys if we're not careful.

~ As a teacher, I cannot advocate for open communication with parents enough. Families who have transferred in for this semester have come from places that don't communicate about school and childrens' learning through anything except a report card. No progress reports, no screening sheet or data provided by the teacher in a student portfolio. Over ninety days into the school year and I'm having to tell parents what the previous teacher should have told them at the midpoint of the first quarter of kindergarten: strengths, needs, areas of focus, goals, interventions, accommodations, funnies even.

"Less is more" works in fashion and design, not in an academic year marked by standards, expectations of mastery, and discussions of "readiness." Yes, students are individuals and my instruction is differentiated to meet their needs, but I have guidelines and a set of curriculum requirements to follow and implement. I am required to assess and show growth. Parents want to know if their child is ready for the first grade socially, emotionally, and academically.

I don't advocate for grading a kindergarten child's transition to school, which can take the entire first quarter: I advocate for determining a baseline, a starting point, to determine a child's prior schema, needs and interests, combining my observations with information and insight provided by parents that in my experience, can only happen if relationships are forged through regular and frequent communication. I don't like an occasional Q & A session. I like an ongoing conversation, a dialogue. All of it gives me direction, all of it powers the energy of my classroom, all of it works in favor for my students.


  1. You wouldn't want to live where I do, it's known as roundabout city - they seem to spring up on a regular basis!

  2. I so agree that parents need some type of assesment. Unfortunatley I am sad to say that our school seems to be drifting to be a little more lax. We used to have four quarters getting updates in each, kindergarteners got two formal updates. They have since gone to a trimester so we are udated only three times a year--thankfully I think they are keeping the kindergarten at two.

    In preschool we keep our parents updated with one phone conference before December and a "formal" sit down conference around February or March. I am amazed when some parents tell me they don't get any updates from preschool. Some don't even understand why we do conferences. I think it's important to let parents know where their child is and what skills are mastered and what skills aren't.

    Thanks for letting me get that off my chest:). Take care.


As always, thank you for your comments, tips, suggestions and questions!