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Angry Week- School Rant-Part 2 (long)

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Angry Week- School Rant-Part 2 (long)

I want to start this rant by saying that Nico has had a few teachers that I think he is having a positive experience with and the principal is a great one that I think truly knows the students and cares about each of them. Each time a problem has come up, he has handled it promptly and he is very easy to talk to. Having said that, Nico can't be done with middle school fast enough. He had one of the worst teachers I have ever encountered. How she is still allowed to teach is beyond me. She has done irreparable damage to his confidence that he'll ever understand math. She is the kind of teacher that if a kid doesn't understand it, it must be because he/she wasn't paying attention, not because of the way she is explaining it. This problem didn't start the year Nico entered middle school and Nico wasn't the first one to struggle with her. Kids have had problems with her for years. Just saying her name gets a reaction from people. If so many kids struggled with her, why is she still there? To make an incredibly long story shorter (Have I ever succeeded at that?), she gave him B's all last year so that she wouldn't hear from us. He learned NOTHING (got D's and F's on tests but was allowed to correct them and A's on all homework and there was a lot of homework). She still heard from us because I couldn't understand why a kid who never struggled with math was struggling so much. Why was he doing all of the homework right but failing the tests? Instead of answering my questions she came back with, "With everything you have and that Nico has to deal with, why do you care so much about his math grade?" I found that to be incredibly insulting. Because he battles CF, we are supposed to be okay with him failing math? We found out that the class was considered advanced and that others were struggling, too. How in the world did he end up in an advanced class? It was based on ISAT scores and his grades in 5th grade, so again, ISATs, thank you for nothing.

Fast forward to this year and though his teacher has been very helpful and is a very good teacher, Nico has the class last period and I think both of them are ready for the day to be done. I'm sure that does not help her patience or his concentration but with a tutor, he is getting a C. He gets A's in every one of his other classes but thinks he is dumb because he struggles in math. His big fear is that he is going to have to repeat this class and he is not that far off. He has to pass a fraction assessment that he has apparently already failed once. If he does not pass it by the end of the year, he has to repeat the first half of Algebra 1. Why is this the first I am hearing about it? The counselor last year said, "Wait until high school. You have no idea what goes on and the teachers don't call the parents for anything." That is fine but he isn't in high school right now. I'm more mad at Leo and me for not pushing the issue of him repeating last year's PreAlgebra class. I was just so angry that it was a wasted year that I had hoped with a different teacher, he would catch up and it would finally click. I don't care if he repeats the class if it means less of a struggle for him but he really doesn't want to because he is already "embarrassed that I am stupid in math". I am angry that my son is at risk for having to repeat this class and no one bothered to tell me.

I am angry that it doesn't matter how confident he was or how good he once was at this subject, his teacher last year blew it to pieces. The effects of that experience now linger and will affect his placement in 8th grade and then in high school. It is absolutely his fault that he can't get past having a bad teacher. He will undoubtedly have more and will have to learn to rise above them to still succeed. The anger and frustration comes because I thought I did everything I was supposed to in order to help him. I went to the teacher at the first sign of trouble. When she did nothing, I went to the counselor. When I still felt like I was getting the run around from the teacher after the counselor's involvement, I went to the principal. I brought up him switching to basic math but the same teacher taught it and the principal said based on his test scores, he was where he should be and that he wasn't the only one struggling with this new program and that he would stay on top of it (and he did). I suppose in hindsight, we should have gotten him a tutor but who does that when their child is getting a B?

I guess if I am being honest, I need to admit that I am angry at Nico which in turn makes me angry at myself. When I see Leo help him or I try to with my limited math skills, I see the defeat in his eyes. I'm angry at him because he doesn't even open his mind to try to understand it and that is when I see myself and all of my own struggles with math. I see how math was always hard for me and for some reason there was a block there that I couldn't get past. In high school I dropped from Algebra 1 to Basic Algebra because I couldn't get higher than a C and I was a straight A student and that math grade was bringing down my GPA (I was a junior in high school which blows me away that he is doing it as a 7th grader. Which again brings me to, just because they CAN do Algebra in 7th grade doesn't necessarily mean they SHOULD). I was so relieved when he was in elementary school and he was good at math. He had Leo's math genes! He wasn't going to struggle like I did. Half the battle with math (or anything,really) is confidence in yourself that you can do it. One teacher (or anyone) that tells you that you can't and you are fighting an uphill battle. I am angry at myself for not working through my own struggles so that I would be better equipped to teach him how to work through his.

To add to the math stress, this year one of Nico's teachers told him, "I know all about CF and your mom is overwhelmed with your sickness. She is stressed and scared because she doesn't know how long you have to live." This teacher also told him when he was talking out of turn, "Do you think that because you have a physical disability, you can talk whenever you want?" She obviously doesn't know him at all or she would know that he plays football, basketball and baseball so I am unaware of the physical diability. Those that think I live in denial, it is because of people like this. The principal talked to her and told Nico he could drop her class but he didn't want people to ask what happened so I let it go.(Do I need to repeat why homeschooling is not an option?)

In the end, I try and remember that life is so much bigger than 7th grade math or middle school. Years from now, I hope it won't be this math experience or the stupid things people say to him that he remembers. I hope it is that his parents supported him through his struggles and frustrations and he came out no worse for the wear.


At March 19, 2011 at 7:48 AM , Blogger lamb said...

wow did the teacher who said those things to him about CF get reprimanded at all? that is horrible!

At March 21, 2011 at 6:29 PM , Blogger AnnMarie said...

The principal talked to her. I would have gone to battle with her but Nico wanted the whole thing to go away so I honored his wishes.


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