Here’s the deal. We have been in this school system for over two years now and I love it here. The schools are great, the teachers are well above par and the families around here are just as nice as can be. I love the town I live in. I couldn’t have imagined a better place to raise my boys.
Of course, there is one small issue that has quickly become a major issue recently.
It all started our first year here. All my kids had come from a school system down south that was not nearly as advanced as our current school district. In fact, all of my kids were behind in reading when we got up here. Math was their strong area, but reading was an issue. All three of them were put in reading resource right off the bat.
This school system has 4 schools. K-4, 5-6, 7-8, 9-12. Our first year here C was in the intermediate school (6th grade). He did not make much progress that year with the reading. In fact, he had me VERY worried when he entered the 7th grade at the middle school. Long story short, at the end of the year 7th grade conference I was told that he had baffled all the teachers by improving THREE GRADE LEVELS in a single year. AMAZING! right?
Meanwhile, during that same year my middle son Z entered the Intermediate school as a 5th grader and he did not fair well. Little to no improvement the entire year.
That’s when it hit me. He improved his reading when he was in 4th grade at the Primary School but he made no improvement at the Intermediate School. C was the same way, no improvement at the Intermediate School but 3 grade levels up in the middle school. See a pattern here? Hmmmmm, could it be the reading resource teacher at the Intermediate School?????
So, when Z came home after the second day of school and said that he was embarrassed about being in Resource because they pulled him out of social studies to go meet with this Resource teacher and his friends were making fun of him; I told him the same thing I have always told him. “If you want to get out of resource you have to work for it. Nobody else can do it for you”.
The next week he began bringing home homework that looked like kindergarten work. Simple math facts, one syllable words, etc. That’s when I got mad. How are you going to tell me that resource is just helping him with extra one on one time yet holding him back by giving him menial busy work rather than challenging him to keep up with the mainstream kids?
So, I had a talk with Z. I told him that if he proved to me that he could show me how motivated he was with his current homework/assignments, I would request a meeting with the school to discuss putting him back into social studies.
The next day I called and was transferred to the resource teacher. She told me that Z was not a good student and that he always had to be reminded to stay on topic and pick his head up off his desk. I explained that that might be his way of dealing with his shame of being in her class, you know, the “I don’t care” attitude.
Anyway, she agreed to set up a meeting which took place today. I have been over this and over this in my head and decided that I knew what I had to do.
I walked into the school with confidence, because nobody knows my son better than I do and if I feel strongly about something like this, damnit they should listen to me. So anyway, we all sit down and the principal asks me to state why I called this meeting. I explained that Z was having self confidence issues being in Resource class, and the fact that he was missing social studies made him even more of an outcast in class. The resource teacher (I wanted to wring her neck at this point) passed out a friggin color coded bar graph of all of Z’s mistakes and behavior issues for the past 2 weeks.
Basically, anytime she had to talk to him she marked it in her little chart. Sure, the chart looked terrible. However, the past three days had 0 issues. (I’d say that’s saying something). After explaining her fancy chart to the room she proceeded to state “for the record, I do NOT think Z is ready to be moved to mainstream social studies. He needs to spend quite a bit more time in my classroom before we should even consider this. My recommendation is for him to remain where he is and we can reconvene in January”.
The fact that I didn’t jump across the table at that point says a lot for my self control. I sat there nodding, taking in her recommendation but immediately argued my point that his “bad behavior” could be a result of his feeling ashamed and embarrassed about being there at all. I then asked his mainstream teacher if she had noticed any of these issues in her class and she replied with an emphatic NO.
That’s when the school psychologist chimed in and said that the self confidence of a child at this age is a huge motivating factor and that he may not be trying because he is so wrapped up in the embarrassment of his current situation. If we give him the benefit of the doubt and put him in mainstream social studies we have a 50/50 chance of failing or succeeding but that the threat of going “back to resource” could be enough of a motivating factor to keep him on track.
That is when I pulled out my secret weapon that I had been holding onto throughout the meeting. I told them that I would be willing to pick up the study plan, class curriculum, and assignments the prior week so I could preteach him. I will have him prepared for class each day by going over everything with him the night before. Once I said this, it was a unanimous decision (well, all except for that evil resource teacher) to go ahead and give him a chance. They explained to me that this would be a huge chunk of time in the evenings and that it was a huge role I was taking on. I told them I was aware of this and that I was willing to do whatever it took to see my son succeed.
Thank goodness they don’t know that I’m in Nursing School, because I honestly don’t know how I’m going to juggle all of this, and I wouldn’t have had an adequate answer if they had asked. All I know is that my son’s 6th grade education is by far, more important than me going to nursing school. I am determined to make it work, but when all is said and done, if I have to make a choice; my kids come first.
Tonight was the first night of the extra homework and holy moly did we have a lot to cover. On top of all his regular homework, he had to catch up on 3 weeks worth of reading in the social studies text. So, I decided that I didn’t have time to make dinner tonight and picked up McDonald’s on the way home. Big mistake. Two of the kids now have horrible stomach aches from the greasy food, Z being one of them. I thought I was being a cool mom by letting them have fast food for dinner, little did I know that I would only further impede his ability to concentrate by giving him a severe belly ache. Oh well, we trudged through and completed everything asked of us. He is now completely caught up in social studies and is ready for class in the morning.
I know I’m crazy for taking this on, but really, what else am I going to do? Sure I have three kids who often need help with homework, yup, my husband is deployed and cannot help me in the evening, of course the boys have to eat dinner every night and the house still has to be cleaned, laundry washed and of course there is Nursing School which is a BIG chunk of time. But when all is said and done, my kids are my top priority, and getting them to succeed in school is one of my main goals as a parent. If this one particular resource teacher has a bad track record of failing two of my children by not helping them read better than I have to step in. I have to do her job for her. I HAVE to be my child’s advocate. If I don’t, then who will?
So, my nights are going to be crazy, I’m going to be stressed, I’m going to wonder if this will ever end. But I am going to have successful kids, with or without helpful teachers. I can do this. He can do this. We will do this together and that’s all there is too it.
The things we do for our kids; it’s amazing how I can be so sure that this is the right decision even though it means that I could potentially fail out of nursing school. It’s part of being a mom, I will always put them first. Always.
I sure hope they remember the things I do for them when I’m old. They better put me in the nicest nursing home they can afford. Otherwise I’m going to show their wives all the embarrassing pictures of them as toddlers running around stark raving naked in a sprinkler, and maybe even the pics of them playing dress up in high heeled shoes. Oh yeah, I’d do it, don’t think for a moment that I wouldn’t.
OK, now, I’m off to bed because I have completely neglected all housework today and I can’t stand looking at this pig sty any longer. I will deal with it tomorrow.