Thursday, September 01, 2011

Andy's Open House

Well, that went... weird.

There is a standard format for open house around here. You show up sometime in the time slot provided (1-3 or 5-7 for Andy's school), stand in line to get the name of your kid's teacher, roam about until you find their classroom, dump the large bag of school supplies on the desk with your kid's name, shake hands with the teacher, convey vital info (my kid needs a lot of structure! or my kid is on these meds! that sort of thing), and leave. It takes about half an hour, with the wandering and line waiting and sometimes you have to wait a little to shake the teacher's hand.

So we had a little trouble deciding on lunch, and Joey was at Grandma's, so we decided to just go over, do the open house thing, and then do the lunch thing.

We walked into a big, formalized program with, like, sessions and stuff. Apparently, someone thought parents had a couple hours to kill the week before school started, and should spend all of it at the orientation session. Only they didn't tell any of the parents there was going to be this formal session format thing, and parents were wandering in whenever, just like usual. And they didn't tell the secretaries, who at first set up to do the lines for getting the parents informed of teacher names, then suddenly had to just rush everyone in so the principal could do the keynote thing. I'm not sure how much warning the teachers had, but I got the distinct feeling it wasn't much.

Consequently, very weird. No way to have that quick, private two minutes to tell the teacher your kid has some minor little difficulty that just needs to be known so it won't be a problem. No time to personally connect with the teacher, because they ar busy giving a little presentation to everybody. It was really, really weird.

If people had known it was going to be a two-hour formal-session event, it would have been fine. Even awesome. Say your info once or twice, instead of repeating it with every handshake or expecting the parents to read anything. Have a little tour of the school and the specials classrooms. Break up the crowd so you know you on;y have a certain number in an area at any one time, avoiding bottlenecks. But they didn't bother to tell anybody, so we had us who really needed to skedaddle and feed our kid. We had lost, confused parents wandering in the classroom at the end of the little presentation, looking embarrassed and feeling uncomfortable as they disrupted the little session they didn't know they were supposed to be attending. It was really, really bad.

The teacher seems OK, and I have heard good things about the class (this is the teacher's seventh year at our school, an all seven years have been at this level) and the pod (the group of 2-4 teachers who divide the students up into smaller math and reading groups in a few weeks- allows more individualization in smaller groups, as you can have each teacher specialize in certain levels of a skill, instead of everybody trying to do the whole spectrum of skill sets. In a given set of time, a teacher can do what? two groups? three? And instead of having a kid have a choice of three levels, with a pod of 3 the child can now be in any of 6-9 levels!). It is a regular-ed setting, which is a new world for us, as Andy has been in inclusion classrooms the last two years. It is a larger class than he is used to, so I don't know how that will play out- it seemed to be a full set of 28.

The teacher seemed well organized, and is going to have a website for us to check on homework things and projects, and any supplies or volunteers needed or wanted. She is going to do homework packets, so we can better work around our sports and therapy schedules, totally awesome. The first week will be read for ten minutes and then write two sentences, which I think is a great thing- for one, we know what is coming for the first week, and for two, Andy can use refreshment and reinforcement in writing (sorry, folks expecting my boys to write letters to them this summer- it didn't happen because I suck). So all in all, things are looking just groovy on the Andy front.

Tomorrow: rest and relaxation. School's coming.


Trish said...

Strange that they changed it at the last minute. Our school has a formal program with two classroom sessions. I use the second one to say hi to the specials teachers just so they can put a face to "Michael's mom."

With regard to the special issues, why not have a team meeting at the beginning of the year? We had a meet and greet with the teacher last Friday when we took Michael to visit his classroom before the school year started.

Then several of us (about half the number of people that are at the IEP meetings) met on Tuesday afternoon to go over any outstanding questions/issues. Thankfully, this teacher is very organized, so we were able to focus on a bit higher-level issues than in past years.

That's great that they have so many levels - I think our school does 3 for reading and 2 for math. Hope both your boys have a great year!

Joeymom said...

For Joey, a "team meeting" is easy- I call it, it happens. But Andy is not a special ed student with IEP or 504 protections. His ADHD is a formal diagnosis, but not acknowledged by the school because it is not keeping him out of the normal range of academic development for his age (though everyone agreed he should be performing higher on tests... as long as he's in the normal range, it is harder to prove discrepancy between ability and performance to get service or accommodation). Getting meetings is also trickier.

kristi said...

Oh wow.I guess I am lucky TC is at the same school with the same teachers again this year.