I am not a big believer in “requesting” teachers. I figure that whatever teacher your kid gets, that’s the one you deal with, pimples and all. Every teacher has things you will approve of and maybe not totally agree with, so you take a little good with a little bad.
When Eilis was assigned her current teacher, I was not happy. It wasn’t because I knew this teacher or the other teacher, but I knew that most of the other kids in Eilis’ class had parents who were requesting the other teacher. I spoke with Eilis’ preschool teachers, and they felt the teacher she would be getting was the best one for her, so I defaulted to their judgement and stuck to my belief that there was no reason to request a teacher.
I have not had many problems with Eilis’ teacher, but I haven’t been in love with her either. There’s nothing she’s doing wrong, but I still remember my kindergarten teacher. She was the kind of teacher that gave hugs, lavished praise all over you when you did something right, was cautious in correcting you so that she didn’t hurt your feelings, put smiley faces on your papers and gold stars on a chart in the classroom, and basically was an extension of the kind of love and concern your mom might show you. Eilis’ teacher is about as warm and fuzzy as a popsicle. She’s nice enough to talk to, but she’s not a big smiley face type person. I doubt there is any hugging or lavishing of praise in her class. She does a lot of marking with sharpie marker, but most of it is negative. She seems much better suited to older children than younger ones.
We’ve gone through nearly this entire year of school, had two parent/teacher conferences (the regularly scheduled, everybody has them, fall and spring conferences), and we’ve been under the impression that Eilis is doing okay. Imagine my surprise when on Tuesday, just 3 weeks before school ends, I get a letter in the communication folder – NOT FROM THE TEACHER – but from the county educational services office saying Eilis is weak in reading and math and is eligible for remedial education classes. WHAT? How does a kid go from the conference in February, where she’s doing great, everything is fine, keep doing what you’re doing to needing remedial education?
So I sent a note to the teacher. It was a politely worded inquisition. Why did my child get referred to this program? Why weren’t we notified that she was experiencing academic difficulties (and frankly, I feel pretty damn stupid talking about “academic difficulties” when we’re referring to a child in kindergarten)? How did she end up being referred to this program without us being informed? I ended the note by requesting a parent/teacher conference to find out what the hell the problem was, and this is what I got back:
“Although Eilis can complete the kindergarten skills, her performance in school is inconsistent. I felt the Comp Ed program would strengthen her skills and she would benefit from it. The program is voluntary. You may refuse the services if you do not wish Eilis to participate in it. Thank you for your concern.”
Where are my answers? What does inconsistent mean? In what areas? Why haven’t you mentioned this to us, Mrs. D, so we could work on things at home? Why do you not give examples of what areas she is inconsistent in and let me make an informed decision about whether or not she would benefit from remedial education? And where is the date and time for my conference?
So today, I sent a note in to the principal. I did not get a note back. I requested a conference with her, and specified a date, hoping to at least get a yay or nay on her availability on my requested day and time, but I did not hear back from her. Someone told me at t-ball tonight they don’t think she was in school today, so I’ll cut her some slack. But I want answers.
When you pay to send your child to school, you get more of an attitude that these teachers have to answer to you in terms of the quality of the education your kid is getting. I feel like I did not get my money’s worth from this teacher. Eilis deserved better.