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spring parent-teacher conference

We had parent-teacher conferences last week and I figured I'd put down the interesting notes.

First off of course Josie is brilliant and above average and her teacher wishes she had a whole class of Josies. This is funny for me to hear because if I had a house full of stubborn Josies I'd go insane.

What should she be reading, I asked. We get these Junie B. Jones chapter books about cupcakes or whatever and she's not that interested, is that because she's not ready? Apparently not. She is past the level of the cupcake books... the reading group she's in will be tackling Charlotte's Web. Advice: don't get "chapter books" just because they're "chapter books", some of them aren't that good. Some children's picture books are better written and more advanced than chapter books. Get GOOD books. Reading level is not correlated to how many pages a book has.

To me, Josie seems to get easily frustrated, but her teacher says her perseverance is above average for a six year old. My expectations are too high.

On the other hand when it comes to communication I have some expectations that aren't high enough. I ask what josie learned she said "I don't know". Her teacher said, "Don't ACCEPT THAT!" In class, when a kid is asked a question she has to answer in a complete sentence of at least seven words. This teacher loves asking kids questions. In fact she says she never gives answers. Everything is questions and getting there yourself. If a kid asks her a question, she asks a question right back.

They do a lot of group work. Sometimes she puts Josie in any group and she just has the best ideas and the others go along with her. Frequently the teacher puts her in a group with another strong kid so they butt heads and have to work together and she says that's always fun to watch, it's a serious challenge. Just depends on the day and the assignments and what's going on.

I asked a lot of questions about math, and in explaining what they're doing the teacher got a little nervous and said "I don't know how you feel about common core..." I said I loved common core. She was like "Oh AWESOME okay here's how cool this is, see a 13 is a ten and a three and we break down everything to find the tens and this really freaks some parents out because they don't know why we're doing this breakdown..." Then she showed me more assignments and told me a lot more about what they're doing. She didn't say it, but it's like she's afraid to show the diagrams because someone will say "IS THIS THAT COMMON CORE BS?" and it gets all political.

Parents get freaked out seeing things that they haven't seen. Marc said it best: he wants to tell those parents "Just because you're a dumbass doesn't mean your kid has to be."

I told the teacher about this interesting conversation I'd had with Josie. Josie asked when she was born. I asked how old she'd be this year... she knew seven. What year is it... she knew 2017. What's 2017 minus seven? blank. What's 17 minus seven? 10! So what's 2017 minus seven? blank.

She's not there yet. Her teacher said these kids are learning tens but hundreds... totally big. Thousands? Way out there! But they will get there, it's okay, and still cool to talk about. Don't get nervous.

She's getting along with other kids. Here's a weird thing... I have friends whose kids are first graders and they come home with stories about DRAMA and bullying and mean kids, even in the first grade! Josie does not come home with those stories. Is it because she doesn't notice? Is she the one BEING mean? that's my real concern. This teacher said she just does not allow it in her class at all. Doesn't happen. I'm still skeptical and concerned because school can be weird.

Anyway, it sounds like I can bug my kid to get more information out of her and ask questions and have lots of conversations because there's a lot going on in her head, I just need to keep getting it out.

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Comments

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
anais_pf
Feb. 28th, 2017 06:13 pm (UTC)
Do you turn Josie loose at the public library every so often and let her get out whatever books appeal to her? Most bright kids will find the right books if they have a good selection to choose from.

Her teacher sounds great.
sandokai
Feb. 28th, 2017 06:19 pm (UTC)
How funny about parents and math.

I'd be skeptical too about a teacher claiming bullying and drama don't happen. You can't control people to that degree, plus there are things like playgrounds and cafeterias. However, maybe she does create a positive environment which sounds awesome.
siglinde99
Feb. 28th, 2017 06:43 pm (UTC)
What a treasure of a teacher Josie has! I wouldn't worry too much about the bullying thing. Your girl sounds confident enough that it is not happening (most likely) or is able to blow it off (possible) or simply doesn't notice attempts to bully (also possible). Given the teacher's responses to some of your questions, I suspect she is very vigilent and would not tolerate bullying. If she did have concerns about Josie, she wouldn't be saying she would like a whole classroom full of girls just like her.
becomingkate
Feb. 28th, 2017 07:21 pm (UTC)
Josie and my son sound a lot alike. At 6 he was reading Harry Potter. I don't know if you consider that too mature for her. Maybe if you read it to her (if that is something you do) or read another copy while she is reading it so you can discuss what's going on.

I have a friend whose daughter is about 6 and her teacher said she has "mean girl tendencies". I guess girls can be like that (and maybe boys to some extent). You could get books that allude to this problem without making it too obvious that you think Josie might have these behaviors.

I like common core too. It makes sense to me. Sometimes I'll see a different method from what I learned and it messes with my head, but I'm not against it.

My son also doesn't tell me anything about his day. I've been told the opposite you were told--not to force it out of him. We get newsletters every week, so I find out what he's been doing then.
conuly
Feb. 28th, 2017 07:36 pm (UTC)
That sounds awesome!

And lol, I tell people that about picture books all the freaking time.
ironphoenix
Feb. 28th, 2017 09:49 pm (UTC)
Why do you think Josie might be reluctant to tell you stuff?
astrogeek01
Mar. 1st, 2017 12:49 am (UTC)
^Eh I dunno, my kid says the same thing if I ask her but if we're just driving somewhere she'll be quiet a bit and then chatter away about the things they do at school. It may not be that she's reluctant she just might not remember in the moment you're asking or think of it that particular way.


Sounds like Josie's got a great teacher. I also love the common core stuff, though it seems like my kid's school is moving a little away from the best stuff. Have to see what's up with that.
smittenbyu
Mar. 1st, 2017 02:21 am (UTC)
Sounds very much like our school/teaching style here, too. I volunteer in their math workshop once every two weeks. I do like the "strategies" they learn. D usually does the same, when I ask her what she learnt. but once she gave a whole lesson about expanded notation!! It was so fun!! And we did the same game with her birthdays... thousands are still a very big concept.

D never mentions about bullying either - but the school takes an active role in addressing bullying from kindergarten. So, kids are aware of what it is, etc. I volunteer in D's class. I do hear some mean things said between kids when the teacher is not around - usually it's when the kid is struggling with whatever he/she supposed to be doing. The teacher usually gives a quick reminder of their class rule #1 - kindness. If the teacher isn't right there, I see the kid on receiving end has words to stand up to her/himself. And if the teacher ever catches it, she has the kid think about what happened and we usually hear an apology. Plus, maybe D doesn't see it as bullying or mean. It's perception too, right? She did say once though, that the kids tend to be mean when the teacher isn't around and that's not right. From what I hear, D usually tells them they are not being nice - and there are a few in the class who take up the policing role.

D is above her grade level in reading. Her comprehension needs work. And I think that's one concern with common core math - the word problems are so difficult - difficult is not the right word - but is so dependent on comprehension and having the vocabulary and what each word really mean. I guess that's why our school focuses so much on reading in school and leisure.
sailorgarnet
Mar. 1st, 2017 04:21 pm (UTC)
You have a great teacher there. Evangeline had one like that for Kindergarten, her first grade teacher is a mess. I'm so worried about Evangeline back sliding. I had the teacher almost in tears because she can't handle the bad kids bullying my girl. Makes me sick, how can she learn when she doesn't feel safe??
aposteriori
Mar. 5th, 2017 01:58 pm (UTC)
At my library there is this cool sign in the kids section that I tried with my niece and it worked out. I'd never heard this before, but I liked it!

When choosing a new book, open to a random page and read it. Hold up one finger for every word you find that you have trouble with or don't know. When you are done, how many fingers are you holding up?

0-1: This book is too easy
2-3: This book is just right!
4-5+: This book is too hard

Also, Josie's teacher sounds awesome. I'm kind of jealous, I wish I'd had a teacher like that!
adele87
Mar. 7th, 2017 09:47 pm (UTC)
Just thought I'd say hi to another feminist living in the Wichita area. (waves)
aliki
Mar. 9th, 2017 12:24 am (UTC)
I hate the common core because it forces all students to learn math the exact same way. The way they break it down by tens and ones does not work well for Erika. When she looks at the math sentence "13 + 21 = " she can instantly do the number in her head, but she is marked incorrect and not given credit, because she didn't draw |ooo ||o = ||oooo

I'm working with Erika to show her work and all that, but it's simply not how her brain functions and compartmentalizes numbers.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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