Thursday, September 3, 2009

The School Drama Continues...

OK, so Clayton seems to be settling into a routine at school. I hope. He had another good day today. For those of you who commented that I should tell the teacher to leave me alone unless Clay lands on red, I don't agree. I want to know when he's acting up so I can help nip it in the bud before it gets out of hand. His teacher is very nice and she didn't come up to me in an angry or accusatory way at all. She was letting me know what went on in class and I appreciate it. Clay is bright and busy and thinks a little differently than the norm and I'd like to encourage that. I want him to keep his individuality; it's what makes him him. However, there's a time and place to explore that creativity and there's a time and place to conform and sit and listen to the teacher respectfully and keep one's hands to oneself. They're both important skills to develop.

Sooo, hopefully his teacher will challenge him and let him show his creativity in positive ways (and I think she will), and hopefully Clay will learn when it's time to settle down and behave in a classroom setting with a different authority figure and classmates who may sometimes annoy him.

In other school news, however....

Austin was put in all honors classes for his freshman year. Honors biology, honors reading, honors writing, the highest level honors math, and AP human geography. Because of his classload, when we met with his counselor earlier this year, Austin, his counselor, and I all agreed he should take a study hall.

Well, Austin has been coming home with no homework thus far. He complained about the study hall and said he didn't need it and would rather take Japanese.

"See what I do in study hall when I finish all my work?" He showed me his notebook which was full of drawings.

"Uh huh. I see. Time well spent. Perhaps, instead of Japanese, you should consider, oh, say ART?!"

We talked for a while and I decided to call his counselor. I agreed that if he really didn't need the study hall, it would be better for him to take a different class. However, I expressed my concern to Austin that I was having a hard time believing that he didn't have homework to do and that his classes were easy.

"I just can't understand how you don't have more work with all honors classes," I told him.

"I'm not in honors classes," he said.

"Uhh yes you are," I said.

"Uhh no I'm not!" he insisted. "I'm not in honors reading or writing and I'm not in AP geography," he continued.

"I saw your schedule, Austin. Yes, you are," I said trying to decide if he was pulling my leg or if he really believed he was in regular classes. "Why do you think you're in regular classes?" I asked.

"I don't think; I know." He was adamant.

"OK, I'll call your counselor and find out. If they switched your classes, I want to know why. Maybe they made a mistake and you weren't supposed to be in honors in the first place. But I saw your test scores that indicated honors.... Hmmm, well, I'll talk to her and if you're in the correct classes and they're really that easy, then I'll see if you can drop the study hall and take a language instead.

So I spoke with his counselor today.

"I have a question about Austin's classes. Austin seems to think that he's in regular reading and writing and regular geography."

"Yes, he is," the counselor said.

"When we met with you, he was scheduled for all honors classes. Why was he switched?"

I'm pretty sure she was thinking - all these parents are the same. They think their kid is so smart. Sigh. Why can't they just accept their kid's class schedules?

Before she could voice those thoughts, I quickly interjected, "I'm not saying he has to be in all honors. I just want him placed where he belongs so he's appropriately challenged, and I'm wondering why it changed."

She checked her papers and was surprised to see that Austin indeed had been placed in honors classes. "You're right. He is supposed to be in honors. I have no idea what happened. I'll work on this right now. Have Austin come see me as soon as he gets to school tomorrow so we can get him to the right classes."

OK, now I know mistakes happen, but really? Three wrong classes? He's missed a week and a half of his correct classes and now he's going to have to play catch-up in 3 difficult courses. I just hope his teachers take this into consideration and cut him slack and/or let him come in early or stay late to help him to get caught up.

I'm not overly impressed with this high school right now. I think my negative impression started with all their, "Your child must do well so we can get money from the state they can get into college speeches I heard at the various orientations I went to this year. If you missed it, you can read it


Tex Betsy said...

The exact same thing happened when Texteen was in 8th. Someone at school decided that having him in the PE course he chose (basketball maybe) was more important than keeping honors science and honors English. Ummm, not to me.

Bailey's Leaf said...

I agree wholeheartedly with the situation with Clay. Get it and correct it before it gets to be a gigantic problem. Why earn him a reputation at school when all he needs is a bit of behavioral tweaking and a touch of reinforcement? Believe me when I tell you that the other kids do pay attention and learn from all of the behavior of all of the children in class. You should hear the stories my kindergartner comes home to tell me.

Secondly, shall we collectively flick a giant internet booger (I'm getting ready to aim for your intended target right now) in regard to Austin? Seriously, to miss that big is wrong. Now you do have a child that at a week and a half is a week and a half behind. I'm sure that he can pull it back around and do just fine, but he shouldn't have to play catch-up when it wasn't his fault to begin with. Hopefully some apologies are issued soon. I'm ready to fire when you say go!

Anonymous said...

I teach high school English, and we started on Tuesday. The amount of inadvertent screw ups and conscious decisions the guidance office makes because they think they're doing the right thing is astounding to me. Of course I don't know your school, but I for one would cut Austin slack and let him stay after for extra help (I actually start with a personal writing assignment instead of actual British Literature subject area content just so the latecomers can catch up faster). Besides, if his teachers have been there for awhile, they probably expect this kind of thing anyway. I would be more concerned that he's not concerned about being in the right classes, but the "I have nothing to do in study hall" is always a clue that the kid needs to move up.


TheQueen@TerrorsInTiaras said...

I totally agree with you about Clay (not that it matters a flea's bottom what I think) and I cannot believe that they messed up that bad with Austin. So frustrating!

At our "welcome to middle school" deal they emphasized the importance of Spanish every year for the career benefits it will give kids when they graduate from High School (seriously--7th and 8th grade Spanish matters?--whatever) but then with my daughter's honors class schedule, she can't be in Spanish. When I ask her counselor, all of the sudden, Spanish doesn't matter anymore. I wish they'd make up their minds and worry more about my child's education than what money they are getting because she passes her standardized tests.

BUT I am happy to have her in a safe school, and that I don't have to teach her honors math by myself, so I will just be happy with what I have. I'm really not complaining.:)

Shelli (wishes she was) Mrs. Burchett;) said...

My son's senior year his schedule had English 12, Health 2 art classes and 3 PE classes. Who the hell takes 3 PE classes??? And it wasn't even enough credits for him to graduate! Did the counselor even notice that when she SIGNED off on it? Nope, not at all. grrrr

Jamie said...

Thanks to my counselor in High school I almost didn't graduate because he screwed up my schedule so much. I was in Honors Band and Orchestra so those were automatic know to be in classes but every year my mom had to call up there and find out why I was not in the right classes. Sad thing is, is that she was the juvenile officer for that school and they knew her quite well. My kids are in the same school district so hopefully by the time they get into HS it will be better ...

Kristine said...

I would have been fuming at the high school! Ugh!

I'm having similar issues with my 1st grader. I ask him every day what color he got. Today was orange, but he did get 2 green this week. I want him to learn to control those impulses now, not in high school.

Rebecca said...

I don't have kids, but your policy with Clay makes sense to me. Then again, I was the bright, weird kid who hid under tables because I was so shy at that age. (Well, ok, hiding under tables was 2nd grade, but you get the idea.)

As for Austin - DUH to the high school. *Facepalm* for Austin. Also, a lot of my friends took Japanese in college and, well... it's tough. Really, really tough. I think the Art is a good idea if he can squeeze it in - I like his drawings!

Mom Taxi Julie said...

That's the difference between a boy and girl. My daughter would have been FREAKING OUT total DRAMA that she was in the wrong classes and she was going to die after it ruined her life.

Frau Mahlzahn said...

Uh, that really doesn't sound as if the administration knows what they are doing.

But on the other hand: sure Austin shouldn't take an Art class?

These drawings are awesome!

So long,

Sara said...

Have you heard about the school situation in DC? Some 7000 students didn't have schedules on the first day of school due to some software problem, and ended up sitting in the gym and cafeterias all day long, some for a week, before they all had schedules.

Keeley said...

Yeah, we ran into the same problems with my daughter. One time they scheduled two study halls - which would mean she wouldn't have had enough credits to graduate.

Luckily my son's freshman counselors were on the ball and he has the most awesome schedule I've ever seen - not only that, but they made sure all his classes were as close to each other as they could get so it was totally convenient for him. Amazing!

Despite the unheardof positive experience my son is having, for the most part I've come to regard public school as a money making scam. My daughter once said "I feel like a pebble in a great big machine" - and she was in 3rd grade at the time. Ever see that Calvin and Hobbes cartoon where he feels like a cow in a factory when he goes to school?

Dawn, you are an awesome mother. The more I read of your blog, the more I see the time and effort you expend in making sure your children are doing well. =) Kudos to you.

Cheryl@SomewhatCrunchy said...

I wouldn't be impressed with the school either for that...but I think the real question here is why did it take your son A WEEK AND A HALF to tell you he was in the wrong classes, and in such a roundabout way?? :) Kids crack me up! You just never know ...LOL


Anonymous said...

Dawn, at least when you called it got something done. When I was in a junior in high school and totally bored, without any homework, the school system refused to adjust my schedule, despite everything. And, then, when I could have graduated a semester early by taking the one required class I had left during first semester, they refused to allow me to take that class during first semester. So, I spent my entire senior year doing, essentially, nothing. And, needless to say, that did nothing to prepare me for college.

Deirdre said...

Speechless about the class screw-up for Austin. Totally in awe of his artistic ability!

Katrina said...

I struck it lucky half way through last year (our school year starts at end of January - so I'm talking around about July) when I found a teacher at the girls high school who has a genuine interest in what the kids are doing, is wanting to help them to find out what it is they want to do in their lives and what path they need to take to get there. So this year as the kids are doing their subject selections for next year (1 going into Yr10 other into Yr11) I have got the kids to deal direct with her and I will have my discussion with her and she will sign off on it. I have also refused to have a discussion session with each of their home group teachers to go over their selections as neither of them have shown any interest and I don't even believe they have any knowledge of what the girls are wanting to do. Works well for me!!

Anonymous said...

I teach 8th graders in Illinois. Every year, in January, the high school asks for class recommendations for the incoming freshmen. Really? January. The high school counselors then place the students wherever it is they fit. A vast majority of the teachers want to do great things for students but, you find out very quickly that the kids fit the schedule, the schedule does not always fit the student. It sadly seems to be this way most places. I do think most teachers (but definitely not all) are doing their best. Most of the time we are our own worst critics. I hope things get fixed soon.

Cookie said...

If he wants to take Japanese, why not let him? If he does bad, he can always drop it later, right? Or let you say, "see, i told you so!" No, but really, if he tested well and should be in honors, then the work is appropriate for him not too much for him and the study hall really is not necessary. I was one of those kids in all honors. Not saying all kids are the same though. Every kid is different. BUt a chance to learn Japanese is great!

Isolet said...

Dawn, I often wonder how you cope with six children - I have my hands full with two. But I can see why God has blessed you with so many: You're an incredibly wise woman, and you're children are very lucky to have you as a mom.

Thank you for your very witty, but helpful blog!

PS LOVED your book.

Anonymous said...

When I was a freshman in high school I also got put into several wrong classes. Somehow I was scheduled to be in Spanish 2 first semester and Spanish 1 second semester. That's the one that really sticks out in my mind

Melissa Kay said...

Sara, that's a horrible situation that happened in DC!

Dawn, as for your situation, it never ceases to amaze me the trouble Guidance Office's have. When I applied for college, my high school sent the wrong transcript. I was rejected from every college, including my safety school! I know it must be difficult to handle so many students, but those kinds of mistakes are unacceptable.

Colleen in West Palm said...

My daughter has the same schedule that Austin has, plus a Biotech class and she has TONS of homework every night. She has Spanish as her other elective and is loving it!! She too, wanted Japanese, and we said no. These poor "arty-smartie" kids have a really tough four years ahead of them.
I am SO glad that it's not me!
Colleen in West Palm

Michelle said...

Yikes, that's a disappointment with Austin. At least you figured out that he was in the wrong classes before TOO much time went by. Didn't Austin know where he was supposed to be?

And Clay? If you're finding a solution, can we talk? I'm at my wit's end with Mister Man and the kindergarten behavior. I'm waiting for tonight's email from the teacher since he told me he got in trouble twice today but can't remember why. Better than the two kids he kicked in the shin (separate instances) yesterday though. I think?

And we'll see you Tues at the UC?

LizH said...

My daughter's school royally screwed up the schedule of 95% of the grade 10-12 kids this year. Everyone had to stand in line for hours the week before to get the changes made even though it was the schools fault. My daughter asked for all advanced classes and received none of them - even being given a course she had completed the year before. One of her friends received a schedule with 3 study halls in his second term (4 courses per term is the norm). The school policy is no more than one study hall per term for 11-12 but the computer didn't pick it up. Everything is so computerized that when things do start to mess up with the schedule all the humans stand there with a confused look on their face not knowing how to fix anything. My daughter ended up with only advanced English because the other courses were full by the time it was her turn in the 3 day lineup

mommeeof9 said...

This is the second year in a row they messed up my 17 yr old's schedule. Last year they had her scheduled for Photograph 1 and photography 2 in the same semester, this year they put Psychology 1 and psychology 2 in the same semester. It was fixed the first day of school, as I called the morning after the open house when we got the kids schedules and had them fix it before school started.

Meg said...

Glad you got Austin's schedule fixed. I, too, was a victim of a GC not paying attention. Granted I changed school systems, but their inattention put me in a weird science-math line up. I was going into Geometry as a Freshman (having done Freshman math - Algebra - as an 8th grader). They got that right, but what they didn't do was cross my math to a science. In their system, Geometry as a Freshman puts you in Biology as a Freshman, finishing the required 3 years of Science w/ Physics in Jr. year. Those taking Algebra go into Physical Science. Those below Algebra, went into a lower Physical Science class. Guess where I was put? Yep - the lowest Physical Science class there was. I knew enough to know it was wrong and got it changed within the first few days, but still the GC didn't check my math and I was put in the highest level Physical Science class instead. So to get where I should've been, I took 4 years of Science instead.

Anonymous said...

I so wish I knew which HS Austin was at...since I live in the area its one of two you could be at...and if its at the sister school I went to (that your SIL Kelly went to as well) I am not surprised at all. In fact my cousin went where I think Austin is at, then taught there for a year and then promptly got the heck out of there. Good luck on the new school year!!!!

Anonymous said...

Re: Clayton, maybe you should give the teacher your cell phone number to put into her cell phone. Whenever Clay starts acting up, all she needs to do is say "I'm going to get your mother on the phone now..." and go for her purse. He might test it at first, but the first time she has to make a call and she really gets you, I bet it will send him a message that she means business, LOL.

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