Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Ramblings

Hey All,

I've been in heaven the past few days with the warmer weather. It's been beautiful and I've been taking advantage of having the windows open, cleaning off the deck, hanging out clothes, and just sitting enjoying the warmness while the little munchkin plays. But Mother Nature likes to tease with these brief warm periods. Wednesday night a cold front will be coming in and for several days it will be down in the 30's when we wake and getting into the 40's if we are lucky maybe in the 50's. And wouldn't you know we have a scouting event on Saturday and will be outdoors most of the day. And wouldn't you know daddy has to work so mommy has to go to this. Oh well I'll survive! lol

Remember me telling you how I was starting a pillow quilt? I had to put it up about a month ago when the little ones were going to be here for several days and you know that saying..... out of sight out of mind.... after about a month I pulled it back out to work on it. Now it just doesn't pay me to put something up and not work on it for so long because I started having one problem after another. I had only gotten a couple little pillows made when the sewing machine started acting up and my material didn't want to feed through. Finally got going once again and was whipping along and the bobbin ran out. I was trying to hurry I wanted to get this row on before it was time to go up to the bus stop and wasn't paying attention to what I was doing and after getting the bobbin filled I started putting the row on. About half way through I noticed something wrong the colors weren't connecting right and upon further inspection realized that it was going to be too short. I had forgotten a little pillow! After a few unlady like grumblings I set everything to the side. Sunday night while watching Desperate Housewives I got out the seam ripper and became acquainted with it. I still have some left to do before I can get going on this project once again. Lessons learnt... don't put it up for so long at a time.... fill extra bobbins in advance... don't rush.... COUNT PILLOWS TO MAKE SURE THEY ARE ALL THERE BEFORE ADDING THEM TO THE ROWS!

Now for the story of the school and why I have been so upset. Let me start from the beginning...

At the beginning of the year I was sent a letter saying that my first grader needed special reading and after contacting the special reading teacher and asking a few questions I agreed to it. I wanted to know how they tested, why they felt like he needed it, when he was pulled out of class what he would be missing during that time in regular class? My feeling is that any parent should be asking these questions if they get this kind of letter.

The kindergarten, first, and second grades only get report cards three times a year. Once in November right before Thanksgiving, in March (yesterday), and then the last day of school. In November for the first report card you have a mandatory conference so the teacher can discuss where your child it at and what will be expected the rest of the year. If there are areas that your child needs to work on and how to improve his/her skills. When I went to this meeting we went over everything and was told he is at or above a first grade level in everything. I have this check list of things to be worked on but there isn't anything that he needs to improve on at the time. He is doing great. I asked does this also include reading? Yes, he is at level or above it. He is doing well. So I asked then why is he is special reading? Good question I will talk to the special reading teacher and get back with you. I didn't hear anything! I would ask and get with the holidays we have been busy but just as soon as I can set up a meeting with his special reading teacher I will. This went on and on from November until the middle of February when I finally got a conference with both teachers. I was then told..... we have been struggling for the past few weeks on sending home a retaining letter because he reading is so bad. Since November his skills have come to a stand still and he is only on a level 8 and needs to be on a level 16 by the end of the year. I asked... is he comprehending what he reads? Yes. Okay then what is the problem? He reads choppy and without expression. So you are recommending to fail a child in February for reading choppy and without expression when he can comprehends what he reads. We decided to wait a couple weeks before we make our decision. I tested him last week on his reading and his word list he is only on a level 8 and he ONLY knows 45 words. And his regular teacher said he also has a problem working independently he is always raising his hand for help. Then I asked why didn't you notify me when he started having problems? Oh we discuss his progress everyday. Okay let me ask again why didn't you notify me when you started noticing a problem so we the parents would be aware of it and to also discuss with us on ways to help him instead of waiting? I then heard these words come out of his special reading teachers mouth........ I have never had the feeling you were on board with his special reading. Oh let me tell you I saw red!!!! I then informed her that before this day I had never met her once that I had talked to her on the phone once with questions as any concerned parent should. That she is the one that has neglected to get back to me with my requests for meetings. I then heard this out of her mouth....... you know you need to set a good example by reading! I said I have read to him since he was an infant and now he reads to me. She said no he needs to see you read and that you enjoy it. Now my temper was out of check and I had to be careful with my words or they would not be lady like. I said you have no idea what I do or don't do. You have no idea who I am so how can you take it upon yourself to assume something you don't know anything about. If you would like to go out and look in the front seat of my car you will find a couple of books that I am returning to the library after I leave here. I am also picking up a book that I have requested and had to wait almost 3 months for. If you like you may go to the library and have them pull up how many books I have read since we have lived here the past 7 years. Now that you know that I'm not illiterate and not a moron can we please get back on the topic at hand my son. I want to know how we can help him at home? I then heard....... Well our time is up have a nice day.

I was so mad and ready to rip somebody's heart out at this point. I knew I needed to calm down before I went any further. I went to the library and then came home still fuming with so much anger. When my first grader got off the bus that afternoon he said on our walk home.... mommy do you want to hear something weird? Yes, please tell me something weird and thinking it would be something that one of his friends had done on the playground. I heard... I went to special reading twice today. You did? Did you go after PE? No, I went before PE. Are you sure isn't wasn't after PE? Nope it was before. I was there while he was in PE. What did you do in there this morning? She tested me on my reading and my words. Oh how did you do? She said I did GREAT! My mind was whirling at this point she said she had tested him last week. She lied! BIG MISTAKE! After hubby got home that evening I told him what had happened and what our child had said and he was angry. It's not often that I see his veins pop out on the side of his neck and his face turn beet red. He said make another meeting because I will be there! I told him that it has taken months to get this one and that I had lost all confidence and faith in his teachers so I was going to request one with the principal present. I sat down that evening and wrote a long letter to the principal explaining why we wanted a meeting. It took three hours to write it because I had to go back and change several times because of my colorful expressions. I finally sent it and after a couple days I got a reply back saying that she had notified the teachers and as soon as they could come up with a day for them that was good that she would let me know. NO! NO! NO! If she thought that time needed to pass for us to calm down she was wrong. I then called the school board and requested to see what a retaining letter was and what was meant by it. She asked why I wanted to know and I explained everything to her. The next day I got a phone call from the school saying a meeting had been set for the next week and that we would have a copy of the retaining letter in the mail before then as I had requested.

The meeting was set for 3 in the afternoon so hubby could attend so I had to get my first grader picked up and told him that we had a meeting but he was to work on some stuff I had ready for him. He sat in the lobby working on the papers I had for him to work independently on his own while we were in the meeting. Both teachers and the principal was there and we started off by going over my letter and everything that concerned us about our child's education. Now at this meeting the teachers were much nicer. They started off with how he just wasn't progressing in reading and that they feel that as long as they are communicating with each other that they are doing their jobs. I didn't hold anything back! I said no you are not doing your jobs when you don't communicate with the parents. That at this age we should be getting more than 3 reports a year on how they are doing. And if there is a problem they should be contacting us so we can help that leaving a parent out of the loop of things is wrong. During our hour and a half meeting I bought up everything they had said in our first meeting and a couple of times one or the other would start to say a different version and I would speak up with excuse me this is what you said. Several times the principal looked up at them and was waiting for answers. Finally I said you will hear me out and hear what I have to say. You have lied to me! You have lost all my trust! This is what I know of my child because this is what we do at home. I pulled out all the flashcards and said this baggie is the words he knows there are 182 words in there. And this is the bag were are working on at the present. It was a challenge to get him to go over the same old words everyday and he didn't want to do it so I asked him what would make it more fun for you? This is a must you have to learn these words before the end of the year so how do you want to do it? He said mommy those words are so boring I want to learn and he started naming off all these words and I started writing them down. So I made up flashcards for them all and said you will have so many words that you want to learn and so many from the list for school. We have been doing this for the past couple months and to make sure he knows the word he has to get it right 5 times before it's pulled out of the pile. The principal was impressed. I then asked how can he only know 45 words when he gets 100's on his spelling test? His special reading teacher said... I didn't mean it that way I meant he knew 45 of the 50 words he is required to know for my class. Oh you didn't say that and made it sound as if he was doing really bad and considering there is still a little over 3 months left for him to learn those 5 words I think he is doing pretty good. I also told them that the amount of homework for my first grader was so overwhelming that he no longer wanted to even open a book to just read for fun. The principal said what do you mean? I said he has spelling, math, and flashcards every night. He also has 4 reading assignments every night. His teacher spoke up and said he does not! I said he has one story that has to be read out of the big reading book you sent home and is kept there until it's finished. He has the take home book that you send home on Monday and is to be read and evaluated and then again on Tuesday night. It's sent back to school on Wednesday and another take home book is sent that has to be evaluated on Wednesday and again on Thursday and sent back on Friday. He has a poem that has to be read every night. And he has a book every night from his special reading teacher. There is no break on the weekends he also has required reading on Saturday and Sunday.

At one point in our conference there was a knock on the door and the secretary said she had to leave and what was she to do about the little one out in the lobby? I asked is he still doing his work I had left for him? She said yes. I asked has he asked you for any help? She said no. I said he will be fine just tell him if he has any problems to knock on this door and mommy said to finish up his work. I turned to his teacher and said he is working independently without asking for help and I would appreciate before you leave here that you look over what he is working on.

By the end of the meeting the principal had many good suggestions on how to help our first grader to read with more expression and help him be a more fluent reader. Let me say the teachers never gave one suggestion. I did inform them all that I was to be informed on everything from now on that if they could send me emails about fundraisers every week that they could find time to send me an email on how my child was doing. If they could plaster my child with stickers about fundraisers they could take a minute to write a note and send it home. You see one night during the week if you go to Burger King on that night so much money is donated to the school. On another night during the week it's Pizza Hut night. And once a month it's skating night. That I had been lied to and my I didn't trust them and if I didn't feel as if they were doing their job with my child or communicating with me that they would be seeing me again and again in the Principal's office.

Oh let me also tell you that at the first meeting on February 23 he was at a level 8 in reading. The very next day the books he brought home was at a level 10. And yesterday his regular teacher still has him at a level 10 but the special reading teacher has moved him to a 11/12. He also brought home his report card yesterday and it looks really good but his teacher marked NO in the section for is he at first grade reading. But almost everything within the reading section is marked that he is at level or above it and 2 marked sometimes is at level. Those two things are fluency and decoding words. I really can't wait for the end of the year as I have said I have lost all faith and trust in his teachers. I'm done rambling and ranting about this. But if you have taken the time to read it all Thank You!

Oh but wait the teens bring home report cards today!!!!!! So the big question of the day is who will be grounded????? lol

I better get busy a trip to the grocery store is needed and I've been doing my spring cleaning. I've gotten the oven cleaned out, the frig is done, ceiling fans washed off, and the deck cleaned up. Today's list is to clean out the pots and pans cabinet and wash all cabinet doors, wash the chair rail and baseboards. And this evening the little munchkin and I are going to plant some seeds for in a few weeks they will be ready for the great outdoors.

Take Care :)

7 comments:

Kansas A said...

OH MY GOODNESS!! I read the whole thing and GOOD for YOU! Sometimes teachers remind me of doctors, no one wants to cross them and they are "gods" in people's eyes, but I say you have control over your own "stuff" and the decisions lay in your own hands. Good for your little boy and I'm happy he has a strong Mama :)

Miriam said...

Dear Vickie, I got HOPPING mad right along with you. I am so proud of you for standing up for your baby! Sometimes it seems as though the school system wants to hum right along without the parents' involvement, that way they can blame the supposed lack of parent involvement. When one of my girls was in kindergarten we went through a very similar set of circumstances, eventually hiring private tutors to come into our home. TURNS OUT she didn't have ANYTHING wrong, she was just intimidated by the teacher's brash attitude and "hurry up" messages. Great job sticking up for your son!

scrappy quilter said...

Hugs...Glad you stuck up for your son. There is something at my blog for you.

Frazzled Farm Wife said...

I was fuming just reading this, I can't imagine living through it! You handled the situation very well...better than I would have.

As far as faith in teachers, there have been a few in my childrens lives that were very poor teachers but there are also some very good ones out there too...I hope you get better ones for him next year and that they renew your faith in teachers. As far as the poor ones....why does it seem they keep them around forver??!!

I think you are amazing for helping him at home as much as you have and making sure that he progressed even without the help of a so-called "special reading teacher"!

Stacey Kannenberg said...

Standing ovation to you!!! You handled it perfectly!!! May I repost this at my blog?? Seriously, read the last few posts and you will see WHY I need to repost this!!!!

www.cedarvalleypublishing.com/blog

I would love to send you my book: Let's Get Ready For First Grade! Send me your address at Stacey@cedarvalleypublishing.com!!

Keep on fighting to be involved in education!!
Smiles - Stacey

Farm Chick Paula said...

Arrrgh- I'm with Miriam... this makes me MAD!! Vickie, you're a better woman than me- somebody would have had a black eye from me over something like this. The way you handled this was just wonderful! Kudos to you!

The Southern Mom said...

Oh...bless your heart! Been there, done that! Good for you standing up for your kids...'cause if you don't...who will?

One day...we need to exchange phone numbers and have a heart to heart, mom to mom! (Oh! Hope that didn't sound like a stalker!) :)