Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Teacher's Report

On Veteran's Day, we had conferences with both kids' teachers, because the school mandates a conference at the end of the first quarter for all elementary school kids. (I don't know about middle school yet, but since that will be multiple teachers, I'm guessing not.)

Penny's was first. Penny actually has two teachers this year, her homeroom teacher, Mrs. H., and her math/science/social studies teacher, Mrs. F., with whom she spends slightly more than half the day.

Mrs. F. could only talk for a minute, because she had another conference at the same time, but she heard my voice as I was shooing the kids out to the playground and rushed over to tell me that Penny was an "absolute delight" in the classroom.

Before she left, I let her know that she had -- entirely unwittingly -- done the best thing possible as far as gaining Penny's trust: she had screwed up on a particular problem when grading a test, and so she'd gathered them back up, re-graded the problem she'd done incorrectly, adjusted the grades as necessary, and handed them back out. Penny had been floored that a teacher would a) make a mistake, b) admit to the mistake, and c) correct that mistake. It may well turn out to be the most valuable lesson Penny learns this year, and I talked to her about it a little when she told me the story to help it sink in, that being an adult doesn't mean you stop making mistakes; it means you take responsibility for your mistakes and do what you can to fix them. (A lesson that far too many adults have failed to learn, but if I can manage to get my kids to learn it, then I'll count my parenting as a success.) So I told Mrs. F. how flabbergasted and pleased Penny had been, and thanked her for providing us with, as they say, a "teachable moment".

Anyway, the general consensus on Penny was about what we've come to expect: she's a good student, usually quiet and well-behaved in the classroom. She's at the top of her math class (that's my girl!) and doing very well in everything else, even in subjects where her grade is not the best. The problems she has stem from the same places they've always stemmed from -- she'd rather read than do work, so she rushes through her work so she can read, risking sloppy results; she doesn't ask for help when she gets stuck; and she is utterly hopeless at organization, so sometimes things (pieces of paper, homework, notebooks...) get lost.

All of which were problems that I had at her age, as well, so I have confidence (or at least hope) that she'll grow out of them.

All in all, we were pretty well pleased with that conference, and then we went down to talk to Alex's teacher, Mrs. D.


We've known for a couple of years now that Alex was ahead of the curve of most kindergarteners, but it was certainly nice to have that confirmed.

Mrs. D. told us that they'd given all the students a preliminary test that charted reading skills against the kindergarten rubric, comparing them to where students are expected to be at both this point in the year, and where they're expected to be by the end of the year.

Alex... aced the test. As compared to the end of year numbers. Something like 50 questions, and he got two wrong. Two.

Mrs. D. tried him on some other evaluations, and tells us that as near as she can tell, his reading skills are currently about on par with a second-semester 1st grader. Alex is nearly a year and a half ahead in reading. Mrs. D. said that if they grouped students solely on reading ability (...apparently that's not a thing any more?), Alex would be the only one in his group.

And he's likewise ahead of the class in math and science, though they haven't done any testing on those yet.

Mrs. D. wondered if we might possibly consider having him tested for the gifted program?

Yes. Yes, please, as soon as possible, because I cannot bear the idea that Alex might get to second or third grade and turn into one of those kids who loses interest in school and/or becomes a classroom disruption simply because they're bored.

I'm so proud of both of my kids, I could burst.