Today’s post is by Cynthia Schultz, a a former teacher with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and concentrations in English and Special Education. She was educated and taught in Minnesota, one of the few states where she feels education still matters. A single mom by choice, with a daughter she adopted from Kazakhstan in 2003, Cynthia’s 8-year-old daughter attends one of the top public elementary schools in the city. Cynthia says, “I have great respect for the principal and the teachers but refuse to believe they’re omniscient.”
I Got the Principal To Move My Daughter to a Second-Grade Class with a More Flexible Teacher
by Cynthia Schultz
For the first time all year, my daughter got off the bus smiling on Wednesday. Not the manic “I got my way” or “I’m so special” smile but the smile of an 8 year old who had a good day.
A happy smile may seem small but it was the culmination of 9 weeks of pain, frustration, tears, accusations, meetings and more meetings, doubts, fears, promises (broken and kept), and meltdowns (not all of them my daughter’s).
From the first, I felt that my daughter’s classroom assignment was wrong for her. The teacher was very controlling, causing my daughter to rebel. She came home with 40 – 50 math problems per night, 20 spelling words
(plus 5 bonus words) for the spelling test on Thursday (apparently so the teacher could make sure the tests got into their Friday folders), an AR book for reading each night, and homework from
the special ed teacher who seemed to have her own agenda. Curriculum Night revealed that any unfinished homework would be done in “study hall” when the others were at recess and children would only be allowed to check out books from the library that the teacher deemed “appropriate”. When I questioned anything, I was told “that’s how it is.”
By about the third week, I asked the principal about changing my daughter’s classroom assignment. Things were not pleasant at home. I was frustrated and overworked. My daughter was frustrated and
overworked. I couldn’t get the teacher to give on anything. The principal required a meeting. That wasn’t pleasant either.
What I found out was interesting. Apparently, it’s the parents’ decision to make, not the principal, teacher, or anyone else’s but the principal didn’t want me to know that.
I did play their game, I let them have two extra chances. After the second one, I was ignored. Guess they thought I’d given up. Then, one day, my daughter refused to go to school. The only way I could get her to go was to take her to school (she usually rides the bus) and promise to talk to the principal.
Three hours later, the principal knew I wasn’t giving up.
One week later, my daughter walked into a different classroom.
That afternoon, she got off the bus with the smile.
I saw the difference immediately. When she forgot her homework folder at school, the teacher called me and said, “Let’s just blow off the homework today.” The next day she had 5 math problems and 10 spelling words.
Friday I met with the new teacher. She’s kind, creative, flexible and seems to really love what she does. The kids have “Reader Theater” every week where they put on a little “play”. Nothing fancy, just
something fun to read every day then perform on Friday.
There are couches and a loft for independent reading time.
When I told her we may have days when we don’t get homework done, her response was, “That’s okay. We learn skills so we can use them in the real world.” Reading billboards and menus fulfills reading requirements and pricing things in the store and counting out money fulfills math requirements.
There was not one thing we didn’t agree on. Not one.
The most revealing thing, though, came as my daughter was telling me about her first day. She was very excited about the loft, the couches, the Reader Theater, the friends she was already making, the
running around the track (she loves to run) for a break in the morning. Then, with amazement she said, “And Ms. J. didn’t yell at us once today!” I didn’t know about the yelling but who yells at second
It’s only been three days and I’m trying to remain objective but I think, now that she’s in a nurturing environment, my daughter is going to blossom this year.
I can’t wait to see it.