Monday, August 24, 2009

Back to School Night

We got a card in the mail a few weeks ago letting us know when to show up to meet Delia's third grade teacher, who was listed on the card as To Be Announced. So, we went to the school tonight and met Mrs Bowman. She seemed nice, but also a little frazzled and admittedly, very tired. She told us they hired her Three Days Ago, and she'd been working around the clock to get things ready for school.

One of the changes she told us about was in the math curriculum. Evidently there will be no Advanced Math available to third graders this year, because only 2 kids in last year's third grade scored high on the assessment test. They're refocusing the curriculum on Basic Skills and Drills, to counter this Trend. This was sad news for me, as one of my daughter's complaints about the second grade was incredible boredom, going over the same stuff again and again that she already knew. I asked the teacher if she had any kind of game plan to keep kids interested, and she assured me she had a plan. I don't reckon that she has a very detailed plan yet, having had only three days to assemble a classroom (there weren't even desks and chairs in the room when she moved in!), and I can hardly blame her.

One thing I would like to know is, why did they only just hire her three days ago? Who is in charge of running this school? They got a new principal over the summer, and so maybe that transition had something to do with it. How could they not know how many kids they'd have in the third grade? Did 20 9 year olds move into the district in the last two weeks? My daughter's classroom has text books and workbooks, but no computers, and only the enrichment materials that the teacher brought with her. I have high hopes for this school year, Mrs. Bowman seems to be energetic and enthusiastic. And maybe she talked more about the Curriculum than the other teachers I've met because she just got a hold of it three days ago and it is very fresh in her mind, but the more I hear about the Curriculum, the less I like the idea of a bunch of bureaucrats and statistics jockeys telling my kid's teacher what she has to teach.

Well, mostly I'm pissed that they took away Advanced Math. Delia loved math before she went to second grade and became Bored with it. She already uses algebra ideas in her day to day problem solving. I just don't want her to get burned out on addition drills and decide that math class is lame. So, we'll just keep doing what we do at home and hope that the new teacher can engage her in the classroom.

After the meeting we came home and celebrated the new school year with Not Dogs and lemon gelato. Yay for Back to School!


Trisha said...

You could always check into an advanced math homeschool addition. Perhaps even if only one or two nights a week - just something to keep her mind working.

Does her school offer any type of gifted program? Perhaps she could get in a class with older kids to learn math and maybe even some science.

Good Luck. Give Delia a hug from me!!!

Patsy said...

Welcome to the world of education as dictated by the "necessary" rules of law and order. No teacher can be hired until the school board meets to approve. (BTW they ONLY MEET at designated times - usually once a month - the members have lives too ya know!) [she typed sarcastically]
Get her identified as gifted. Start NOW. Call the school and schedule a meeting with the principal and special education person. The process takes many months. Dragging out testing, that is. They must meet with you with in 10 days of your request, I think. But scheduling is more delay.
I have a laptop in the basement -OMG - that has windows 95 on it but it connects to the Internet and can process math and such. If we "clean it up" [take my stuff off it] perhaps Delia can use it at home or even at school after things settle down and the routine is established...
I have to go to a meeting [sped] now, but I'll try to answer some of your observation questions.
Danica Kellar is a good resource for math.

Patsy said...

To continue with my comment from an hour ago: Our special ed person is going to give me the state guidelines on how much time can elapse between meeting requests and testing. I was wrong about the 10 days. It would be helpful if Dee's last year teacher would recommend her for testing. (She would have ancedotal [spelling?] evidence of her scores and abilities, which the coordinator needs to document the need for testing.) You can also request testing thru the principal to help speed the process along. There will be a psych eval., too.
I hope Delia has a great year. Don't stress. She'll keep busy reading "Heck"!

Heidi Ho said...

Hey Tracy!!! Let me try to ease your mind.

Mrs. Bowman is a really great teacher! She seems to have energy and excitement. (Admittedly, I know nothing of curricular issues though) Also, she has been at mountainview for a few years as a permanent sub. In fact, she has rotated in and out of 3rd grade because she is never "the one" with the most senority when the jobs open least UNTIL NOW!!! Yay for her!!!

Your classroom will have me!!!! They are just moving and shifting those around. Even if they don't get them right away, there is an ENORMOUS amount of them in the library and tech lab the teachers can use with their classes.

Your mom was right about the hires too. In addition to the board office...I believe they cannot "fill" the position UNTIL the person who left officially resigns or retires. Also, IF that teacher takes another job...they may have only been hired for their job days before..then the job gets posted for 5 days, etc. etc. you get the idea. Actually, the process protects the kids in some ways, because the principals are given the time to check seniority, training, and complete interviews.

As for the population at MtnView. It is VERY transient, in my experience. So, yes, the numbers can change drastically from year to year...and have EVERY year I've been there. I've been off for one year and I'm not joking when I say there are at least 10 new staff members and at least 100 kids I have never met. That's kinda cool though, because the environment never gets stagnant! Change is sometimes good, ya know?

Finally, If I were you, I may approach M Fike, the counselor and ask the best way to get D. tested for gifted. He is amazing and wonderful!!! He will steer you in the right direction. I know we have a new gifted teacher and she seems to be AMAZING!!!! I've heard nothing but GREAT things. I will ask around about how to recommend the kiddos for gifted and see if I can help in any way.

Finally, for real...You have a great kid! No matter what the situation is, she will bring her creativity and charm into the situation. She has a way of making the class come alive with her sincere questions,comments and energy!!! It will be a great year, I promise!!!! (at least I hope so!!) Can't wait to see her! It might be tomorrow!!!!