Friday, August 27, 2010

Not So Great Start

I have wanted to write about B's journey so far in school and though I started it I have not finished it. This is not surprising to me. Instead of that right now, I want to write about what happened yesterday on my sons 2nd day of school because it just makes me crazy to the core.

Yesterday was my son's 2nd day of 2nd grade. I have been told by many that his teacher is the best teacher in the school. I trust people are not lying to me. Also? She called me the day before school to discuss how she was familiar with Braden's plan that was put forth last year (upcoming post). She went on to describe many things that sounded perfect for him. She used many gifted tag words that I have not heard any other teacher say. I am confident that he will have a good year with her. Again, I will say that I believe this WILL be a good year, but when that part starts is anyone's guess.

I pick B up from school and ask the usual "how did it go today?" and he replied "fine, except for one thing that I don't want to talk about." We were at the playground so I dropped it. I asked again once we were in the car. Again, he didn't want to talk about it and then changed his mind to saying that he was just joking and that it was a fine day. I knew he was hiding something.

Again before bed I asked again, and he insisted that there was nothing and he was joking.

This morning he decided to talk about it. He said that when it was reading time the teacher told the kids to go pick a book from their classroom library and that everyone was supposed to pick a blue label book. Braden said that all the blue label books were beginning books and were too easy so he asked if he could have a different book that he saw. Then he said to me "she flat out said no.” I'm not sure how this came about but she said "reading harder books won't make you a better reader, reading easier books will." and then my son said to me "And you this summer told me that I should read books that are harder and now my teacher says easier books so now I don't know who's right cause you’re my mom and she’s my teacher."

To give some background, over the summer B had fallen into a pattern of only getting comic books from the library. At some point I had suggested to him that he really needed to read a mix of both comic books and regular reading books to keep up his reading skills.

Oh, and he was NOT happy about only being able to chose the blue label books. I can't blame him. Why is this teacher (who knows his reading level) making all kids take the same level book? Is this going to inspire my son to read? Trust me it's not. He could not have been less interested in those books. Isn't that sort of anti-reading? I mean I understand if this was part of some assignment or for a project, but as I understand this was FREE reading time. Why not let a kid pick a book that they WANT to read? Isn't the point? Getting the kids to WANT to read?

I'm not sure that they have a "get kids to hate reading" program but if they do my kid must be first on that list.


  1. This did not make me smile at all! I was reading chapter books by the time I was in the 2nd grade, and I never remember a teacher trying to make me go back to easy reading. What was this teacher thinking!! Also, I still owe you a post about my experience in gifted. Lots seems to have changed since I was in grade school!

  2. Wow...This person is suppose to encourage learning..That is very strange

  3. Ugh. I so remember those days... I was an early reader. I was reading "Charlotte's Web" in kindergarten but in my public school "advanced reading group" they had us reading something along the lines of "Dick and Jane". It was brutal. I remember looking out the window or at the clock just praying to get done with school.
    My mom is now a reading specialist so I also see the teacher's side a little. A lot of kids who read early also become over-confident, read too fast and don't develop good reading comprehension skills. Not that easier books fix this, but that may have been her goal.
    I agree with you though, challenge kids. Make them work for it. Gifted kids need this. If you let them operate outside "levels", they can achieve far more.

  4. I would ask for a conference - even by phone - to ask her reasons. You acknowledge that she sounded like a great teacher and has the reputation as one of the best in the school. I would think that it is at least reasonable that she has a reason for her actions that weren't passed along to B. And they might make perfect sense! She might be looking to make sure she establishes a solid foundation of comprehension at the beginning before pushing their ability to reach higher; she might be wanting to do something with incentives for higher books and if he goes to them now would be frustrated later; who knows? We might all join you in hating on her later, but I think that if she has garnered that kind of reputation and is supportive of his plan (something we fought every year for my daughter) then she deserves the benefit of the doubt. Awesome teachers and awesome moms sometimes approach the same thing differently. And that is a good thing.

  5. I've had the experience you've just described, when I was in 2nd grade, and again in 4th grade.

    I'd suggest a call to the teacher to hear her "side" of things, and to discuss what her reasoning is...because reading beginner books won't improve you past the point of being a beginning reader.

  6. Have you had a chance to meet the teacher face to face yet? I'm asking because some schools have meet and greet nights. I would use that opportunity to ask the teacher your question.
    What was her plan with these books? was she assessing levels? It's hard to know what her plan was without all of the information. I wouldn't assume the worse. Be proactive rather than reactive and talk with her about it. Only she can clue you in on what was really going on.


  7. As a teacher, I would say you should definitely talk to the teacher immediately about this. You never know what context it occured in or what her thinking is.If you don't address it in person and quickly, a relationship of distrust will grow between you and her and your child will feel it.

  8. Having been a teacher, I know it can be very difficult to challenge the kids in your classroom when they are at drastically different levels. Difficult, but not impossible. GIfted children need to be challenged or they will become bored and tune out. And once you've lost them, good luck getting them back. I have seen that happen, and I completely understand your concerns. Like most of the other commenters have said, I would talk to the teacher directly. Ask what her reasoning was, and talk more about the plan for B that she seemed so on board for. How exactly is she going to implement it? 'Cause this didn't seem like the right start...