Originally Posted by connieculkins
talk to the teachers, but I'm more polite and never demanding. I guess I assumed that a teacher would know that a child wasn't being challenged if all their work was nearly flawless. I know that's what I would assume if I were a teacher.
I'd like to challenge your assumptions about teaching a bit. Perhaps understanding how teachers can see things will help you. A teacher can't assume because the work is flawless, the child isn't being challenged. They can't see the effort being put in. I can assure you as an educator that there are students I teach whose work is flawless because they memorized the rules without understanding them or spent 3 times as much time on it as the student sitting next to them. If it takes a student three times as long to complete the task, they are probably quite challenged. How can I tell that student from the ones who get it quickly and easily? Without talking to the student (or parent, I teach college, so I don't talk to the parents), I cannot tell.
In addition, sometimes students who make mistakes reveal, in their mistakes, a sophistication of thinking that I couldn't uncover if they were flawless. It's clear from the mistakes (I'm sorry, I can't come up with any examples right now) that they understand the concepts and are trying to apply them to new and different situations. That sort of student is, in my opinion, much brighter than the student who can rotely apply the concepts.
Originally Posted by connieculkins
My kids are very apathetic these days, don't like school and I'm sure they would thrive with more challenge, but I'm going to have to be a little more intimidating in order to get them this.
A thought and a question: If your children are apathetic and checking out, it's time to get in there and advocate for them. This is a huge problem, IMO.
Question: Why is advocating for your child being 'intimidating'? This is what I said about dd to her teacher: "I'm concerned because dd is expressing frustration at being bored at school. I'm staring to see some of it in her behaviors at home. Unlike her brother (this teacher had had her brother before), dd thrives on being challenged, and will rise to meet the challenges. How do you think that we can address this?"
My conversation with ds' teacher last year went "I'm concerned because ds is getting frustrated any time he has to work to do something. I'm also concerned because the books he's bringing home from school are far below what I know he can read. At home, he's been reading... (I listed a few examples) But my real concern is the lack of challenge. Ds seems to think that if he has to spend more than 5 minutes on his homework, it's too hard. I need him to learn that it's OK to work on something and that being challenged doesn't mean he can't do it. How can we help him and challenge him?"
Is that intimidating? Pushy? I was direct, but very very polite. I didn't tell them how to do their job, I merely stated my concern and asked for their help in solving it. I find that approach works really really well. If you engage the teachers in helping to solve a common problem, they are often willing to help.
Now, it's entirely possible that the school that you're in (from your description, I'm imagining a East Coast suburban school in a rich district with lots of professional parents) that my little spiels would have done no good. If that's the case, then you need to:
-List the behaviors you see with your children concerning school work that demonstrate that they get it
-List the behaviors (including things they've said) that concern you (apathy)
-State clearly that you want help in resolving the behaviors that concern you and that you think that differentiation is the solution.
-If they push back and say "but that class is full...." simply restate: My kids need differentiation because the work they're doing now is too easy. It's beginning to negatively affect how they view school. How can we get them there? If you can't help me, who else can you point me to?
Many others have made the great point that you do need to advocate for your child. In a perfect world, we'd have classes of 15 students per one and the teacher would have time to really get to know each of the students and tailor the curriculum to them. But like world peace, that seems to be a long way off in the public school system.
In the meantime, it's up to us to advocate for our children, even when it's hard to do so. I'm an educator, and I don't like to do it. I understand that. But think of it this way: your kids need
you to demonstrate that you are interested in their schooling and that you're willing to go to bat for them. Parental involvement at school is one of the big predictors of student success. (Note I didn't say 'achievement', I said success, there's a difference.)
I'm also wondering if this is really the right school for your family. I hear a lot of resentment and anger toward the other parents at this school. Is there another schooling option for your kids that would meet your family values better?