Thursday, February 26, 2009

Second grade update

After spending a week freaking out about our meeting with Nick's teacher, I calmed down enough to put things in perspective. (Plus I was on vacation in Florida which helped.) It's been almost a month and we continue to remind him to do his best work, to slow down and take his time completing school work, and to always, always check his work.

Is it making an impact? Probably not. But I look at each paper he brings home and his grades seem to be improving. He's missing one or two questions and his homework seems to be going well. (I say "seems" because Nicklas and the Polack usually work on it before I get home from work. And the Polack would tell me if there are any issues.)

So last night I sent his teacher an email to schedule a followup meeting. I think it's important that we're all on the same page and I want to make sure she's seeing improvement as well. I requested a meeting for next week. And here's his teachers response:

Next week, I have a case conference after school on Tuesday and Thursday is not a good day for me to meet. Mon. Wed. or Fri. would be fine; I hope one of those days is convenient for you.

Did Nicklas tell you he had a difficult day in math yesterday? He continues to struggle in math; geometry has been really problematic for him. I can share more when we meet.

I spoke with [the principal] this morning before school about Nicklas and math; I took his math journal to show her. She suggested that we double-check his vision; I had our nurse do so this morning; Nicklas has 20/20 vision in both eyes, so that is not an issue. [The principal ]also suggested that I ask our Special Ed/LD teacher to come and observe Nicklas and do an attention assessment with him. (He would be unaware that she is watching him.) She would compare him with another student of the same gender and come up with a percentage of time-on-task while I was teaching a lesson. This might be helpful because she might see something I don’t as I am teaching. Although this would be very informal and “unofficial”, I need your consent to do the observation.

Let me know your wishes and also what day you prefer to meet.

What???? At this point, I'm confused and frustrated. I have seen no evidence of Nicklas struggling in school, especially in math. I have no idea what math journal she's referring to. None of the papers that have come home suggest he's not understanding concepts. I happened to be the one who supervised homework time last night and he did great on his geometry assignment. He only missed on question and when I told him there was a mistake, he was able to figure out which problem and correct it on his own. He never mentioned have a problem at school (although he probably wouldn't - it's hard for him to talk about failing/struggling with something).

I haven't had a chance to talk to the Polack about all of this yet. He's in parent/teacher conferences all afternoon and through this evening. I'm anxious to hear his thoughts, especially on the homework situation.

On top of this, I had the parent of another student call me a few nights ago. She's very unhappy with the teacher and her method of teaching (or as the parent puts it, shaming and embarrassing kids to produce the behavior/performance she wants). The class is working on a major independent project right now and her son is really struggling with it as well as some other things.

It's always so easy to blame the teacher. But I'm not going to sit here and judge her. Are there things she does that I disagree with? Yes. But I have to respect her style of teaching and her years of experience. I have to encourage her to partner with us in focusing on how to improve the situation. We have to approach the situation with ideas and suggestions and come out with a plan of action. After all, like us she wants Nicklas to succeed.

(Do I sound believable?)


Deanna said...

One of the other blogs I follow just had an interesting post you might find very helpful regarding children's eyesight.
check her wednesday post from this week

We went through some of these same things with our oldest child, only he struggled with reading. It's only been in the last 3-4 years that I've actually seen improvements. Much of it was just boredom.

Heather T said...

I would ask if you could schedule a meeting with the special ed teacher who would do the observation. That is really the person who can answer your questions, and s/he should be able to meet with you fairly soon. If that teacher is not available to talk, I would call the school principal.

I'm with you -- the teacher has all this concern and she's referred the kid to the school nurse and you've arranged for a special ed teacher to observe and now you tell the parent? But it may be that there's something else important that she's also forgotten to mention. The goal for you is to find out as much information as possible. Undoubtedly things happen at school that you can't see at home, you just need to find out what they are in order to know what the next step is.

Oh, one last thing? That consent is supposed to be given to you in written format, along with a 10-day advance notice of the event. You can waive the right if you want (like if you want something to happen faster), but you have the right. It ensures that you have enough time to get your ducks in a row before any big evaluations or planning about your kid's education take place.

mary grace said...

Hi Natalie! I'm not an expert, but I'm thinking from what I've read here tat your son would definitely benefit from seeing a ped. opthamologist. I'm not in your area, so I can't offer a specific recommendation, but this site ( should help.

Praying for you as you dig deeper into what might be going on!