Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Team Player?

Part of the picture shaping yesterday's existential funk, had nothing to do with matter or molecule or the meaning of being, but was the landscape of more ordinary concern.

Over this one.

Here he is, cute as all get out, getting the very chic Kindergarten Graduate button applied to his little lapel.

Here he is doing what he does best at school: instead of paying attention, he's trying to chat up the cute blond next door!

The Matron has admitted -- more than once -- concern over Merrick's complete disinterest in the all important Word. Books are made for stacking, climbing and conquering in the physical sense.

Imagine the following taking place against a backdrop of weaponry, dog assault, gymnastics, and the all time favorite (and THE 'push Mama's buttons' game) The Pummeling Thrashing Fighting Brothers.

"Merrick! Could I read this new library book to you? Look at the cool firetruck on the cover."

"Merrick! Did you see this cool book I bought you? Wow! I can't stand it, this is so funny."

"Merrick! Do you want to snuggle on the couch and read for awhile? With cookies? Candy?"

"Merrick. I'll give you $5 if you sit here and read a book with me."

This child -- as children will do, Free Will and all that damn it -- is not adhering to the Family Narrative, regarding narrative!

But the Matron is pretending that she's all sanguine and 'it's just a matter of time' and not concerned about her youngest's anti-academic bent. The disinterest in reading extends to the general field of School, except for gym, lunch and recess. Whereas the Matron has never been able to LEAVE school for more than a summer. Sometimes she reads French Feminist Semioticians, just for fun!

Remember the glory days, academics in the room?

Sweet digression. . .

So while the Matron is trying to be sanguine and to see the Life Lesson in being allotted her polar opposite as a child, she got her son's teacher assignment for the next THREE YEARS. In their public Montessori classroom, students are in the same room with the same teacher for three years. It's a lovely mix of ages and creates a great community, providing you get the right teacher for your child.

Here she needs to tread carefully because she's not quite sure who's reading.

So let's say, hypothetically, that your child is assigned to a teacher who you believe is NOT a good fit for your child? Let's also flesh out this Scenario and pretend that your older two children scream in terror of said teacher assignment and also Protest: Bad Match. This is a teacher who is the only one out of the bunch that you felt would NOT work out. Not because he/she is a bad teacher (far from it) but there is that Matronly Mama Maternal Gut Level Radar beeping in the worst way.

Sigh . . . .

Let's also say you have a reputation for serving the greater good in that school and being willing to follow the rules -- not one of the parents who stand up and scream: ME, ME, ME and my child!!! Pretend that your child and family are a welcome addition to a classroom that might need an influx of new blood and parental involvement.

Moving a child out of an assigned Montessori classroom -- in this school's culture -- is no easy task.

What would you do, readers? Make the fuss up front and start the process now? Or give the teacher and his/her classroom, a chance?

The Matron feels the stakes here are high, as her guy needs to turn around his beliefs about the unpalatable nature of school rather than having that view reinforced.


Unknown said...

Speak your mind...gently. Teachers don't like being saddled with kids that rub them the wrong way, so run with that. You'll regret it if you don't.

Anonymous said...

Do it now. Less apparent commotion than once the placement has been made and the child attends class. Mamas really do know best. Believe in yourself.
Chris in NY

Amy said...

I've left it to chance and it has always been to the detriment of my child. Follow your guts. It's easier to deal with causing waves then spending years repairing the damage a bad fit has done. Believe me-been there done that.

Daisy said...

Merrick is so different from your other children, this teacher might actually mesh well with him. What is it that bothers you about the match? I'm uncomfortable with the situation because my reputation has been trashed by parents who've never been in my room, do not know me at all, but badmouth me all over the neighborhood. Make sure your info sources are accurate: better yet, talk first hand with the teacher.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Daisy about checking the sources. But I think you should speak up now.

I also have a son who, like Merrick, has not taken to the three Rs with the same gusto as his older sister (or any gusto for that matter). A poor teacher match for her- she'd bounce back. A poor teacher match for him- could take years to recover. Three years is a long time to keep your fingers crossed.

Ree said...

Address your concerns with the teacher. After all, she's a fellow educator.

I don't think a "I'm concerned because Merrick doesn't seem at all interested in school and what can we do together to excite him?" is unwarranted. If her answer isn't to your liking? Ask to be moved.

Queenly Things said...

Maybe she'll be just what Merrick needs. You could wait and see what he makes of her himself. I think every kid finds a teacher and vise-a-versa. If it looks like it's not good you can come up with something for opting him out.
When our Mikey turned out to be not the best student in the whole wide world we were shocked. As my daughter said, we just assumed he would be given that all the rest if us loved school and were academic high-achievers. Turns out his genius lies elswhere.

Heather said...

I can see advantages to leaving it and advantages to trying to change it. I AM a person to trust my insticts and sometimes I just do not mesh with people and nothing will change that.

In this case though, I think I'd leave it as is. It's good for kids to be exposed to different personalities and ways of doing things. The world will largely not let you change your boss even if you don't really mesh. Granted, this is school, but really life lessons that will serve Merrick well for his life. It's a fantastic thing to learn how to get along with people you don't particularly "get along" with.

Jocelyn said...

Crikey. What a difficult call...I think I'd try to make the move before the school year starts--less traumatic for all involved.

If you can make a goal out of just getting your boy interested in a story and not so much deciphering it himself, then audio books might be the way to go. My just-finished-kindergartener loves Junie B. Jones and occasional Magic Treehouse books and even Gary Paulson, all on CD checked out from the library. I can't always ask if he wants to hear something, lest he decline, so often I just shove it in and start driving.

As far as a very good book for snagging that age, have you seen the MONKEY WITH A TOOLBELT books by MN cartoonist (she of VIOLET DAYS) Chris Monroe?

JFS in IL said...

I would NOW go in and ask for a meeting to discuss your concerns. WRITE THEM DONE and stay on task, calm and cool and professional (lest ye be dismissed as a crackpot parent daring to question the education authorities - been there, done that.) You may well have to CALMLY agree to try the teacher for, say, a month in the fall then meet again if the teacher change is not done now. but at least you will have started the ball rolling.

JFS in Typoland said...

I meant WRITE THEM DOWN - of course I never proofread until AFTER I post stuff. :-(

Minnesota Matron said...

Thanks Jocelyn for the reading tips and everyone else for the advice. I AM going to move ahead and at least lay the groundwork for leaving by expressing my deep concerns. Maybe those concerns alone will be enough to get him out of the classroom. Who knows! The principal is a gifted leader who I trust and respect, so I'm also giving her a lot of credence here. I'm also going to start sending emails so I do have a 'paper trail' of concern. Thanks everyone! I still welcome more if you're out there!

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

One thing I might consider is that you might be surprised about how it would work out. Just to be the devil's advocate here--you have probably ensured he had (what you thought) was the proper environment until now and it has not brought the results you hoped for.

Also, there is the very real possibility he will never be a reader. My youngest daughter is the only person in our family of 6 that just doesn't enjoy reading. She has too much else going on (it goes along with being the youngest child, I believe). She is still a successful student.

kayak woman said...

The one time I specifically requested a particular teacher for one of my daughters (now college grads), she was assigned to the OTHER one, whom all of the neighborhood moms were always complaining about. Procedures (or whatever) at that elementary school were such that there was no way to protest it without making a big to-do, so we just went with the assignment. As it turned out, that teacher turned out to be one of the best teachers my daughter had throughout public school. The teacher I had requested? She ended up taking a “medical” leave that year after she was caught helping students cheat on state standardized tests.

The Other Laura said...

Do it now. I have learned the hard, miserable, tear-stained, way that trusting your gut is always the right thing to do when it comes to your kids.

Anonymous said...

Lots of good advice above. I didn't read all of it -- limited time -- but I read enough to know you have some wise readers. I'll add my voice to the chorus saying to do it now. Talk to the teacher, get your facts straight, be open-minded, and do what you think is best for Merrick.

btw, both my boys went to a public Montessori in Mpls. Great schools!

Cheri @ Blog This Mom!® said...

Two cents: When the gut speaks, listen. Ask and ye shall receive. The sooner the better, all around.

Also? I'm liking the Randy Pausch quotes on my sidebar for this question, too.

I'm a Libra and a lawyer. No real help in that.


Sonya said...

I have been there.

When my eldest daughter was going into grade 1 I didn't know the school scoop and let her be assigned to the "scary" teacher (the parents in the know had already gotten there kids in another class). It was an unmitigated disaster.

I was able to move her to another classroon only with by putting a LOT of pressure on the Principal; she didn't want any other parents to know that you could move classes. Only when my daighter's paediatrician got involved and I promised not to tell any other parents that it was at my request was she moved.

I would have had far less resistance to it prior to the start of the school year.

My daughter hated school from that time until I moved her to a lovely prviate school in Grade 7. She lost a lot of years of learning potential and had a lot of emotional stress.

I say trust your insincts and talk to the school head now.

Best of luck!

another mary said...

I'm catching up on your blog... I'm surprised Merrick didn't get PH! I think you definitely can/should talk about it. I had concerns at the beginning of this year for Nora and as it turns out, where she landed was better than I expected and really probably the best place for her. But, if there is such a thing as clout at the school, I would think you have some and at least deserve some discussion and consideration.