Originally Posted by Tigerle
The power of the good fit. It's awesome, isn't it, wondering whether you've got a different child.
There is just this one niggling thought at the back of my mind and I have been wondering how to put it, not wanting to rain on your parade...
His old program was this high achiever model student pile-on-the-work program masquerading as a gifted program that you were so disenchanted with you decided to mainstream him for middle school, right? So it could be that the mainstream program, even though it's lots of different teachers and classes, makes it that much easier for him to keep on top of his stuff because, among other things, the content is really way too easy for him?
I know he is accelerated anyway and probably at least a year younger than most of his classmates, but I think it's a good idea to get that evaluation done with an eye on accelerated classes in the new system. If you recall, I am one of those people who has trouble with organization and focus even now and I always wonder whether I might have been able to develop better executive function skills if I'd ever had to, you know, actually work for my As. And might not have run into that brick wall in law school.
I don't pretend to have the answers here either, because clearly that the other program's approach wasn't helping any. I'm thinking along the lines of high demands in actual content/subject material - lots of schaffolding and support in executive function. Instead of ten easy homwork problems, one complex one. And so on. Yeah, yeah, I know, if only this were so easy to find....
You bring up issues I've thought of. Thank you.
Yes, I'm a bit frustrated that those A grades weren't the result of learning actual new content, or being challenged intellectually. However, since a lot of his issues were failure to do work and hand it in I'm really pleased with the grades as they represent that he actually completed and handed in the work no matter what the challenge level of it was. He's also getting great feedback on his group work, which is also something he struggled with in the past.
He was dealing with some "impostor syndrome" at the old school and has found that he really is smart and he really does crave challenge and has started asking his teachers for more challenging work. We assumed all along that he would work his way back into the gifted track by high school to put him on AP/college prep pathway in high school (though we are looking at classes at a local college in leu of AP). He's gaining confidence right now and learning that he is capable of A work. At conference his social studies teacher even talked about what a leader he is in the classroom and encouraged him to further develop those talents. I don't think there was a space for him to emerge as a leader before as he wasn't one of the highest performing students. Now he is.
We've found the mainstream English classroom to be a really good fit for him as they are very focused on writing this year, he needed a bit of remediation in that area. He hates having to journal 4 pages a week, but it is really good for him. He's already in the advanced Science classroom. He has the same Social Studies teacher who teaches the advanced class and the teacher has already mentioned moving DS to the advanced class at either semester or next year.
The remaining issue is Math. This is an issue we are actually tackling as a group of parents. Our school district moved to the common core standards this year. The common core is about a year ahead of where the previous curriculum was. So they are basically teaching remedial math in every classroom this year to get everyone caught up. They allowed only a handful of kids to advance and those kids who did advance aren't finding remedial 7th grade math any more satisfying than the kids who didn't get accelerated are finding remedial 6th grade math. They aren't calling it remedial, but that is what it is.
I really wish that the middle school advanced options were more robust as I do think the school gets so many things right. They are doing a good job of supporting executive function, they are bringing in technology in ways that really work for the kids, they are really good at building relationships between the students and the teachers. But really the advanced options are rather pathetic. Basically, except for math which is basically a subject acceleration, the only thing that seems to make an advanced class advanced is who they put in it. I've visited Science classroom and talked to the English teacher and they are teaching the exact same content at the same pace to both groups of students. Basically the advanced kids get a slightly deeper discussion of the topic at hand by virtue of being in a class with other advanced kids.
They are supposed to be starting a gifted middle school program similar to the elementary program he left. However, it won't start until next year and will begin with the class behind his. Plus, as you point out, our experience with the elementary school program wasn't positive. They are putting this gifted program in the middle school that my son currently attends. They are also putting a Spanish Immersion program in that school as well. I'm hoping there will be some peripheral benefit to the kids who aren't in those programs due to being in a higher grade than the program is offered. We'll see.
Honestly, I think the reason this is so much better a fit is because no one knows he was grade skipped. I'm sure a few have figured it out or read his file. But no one seems to be treating him any differently or unsure what to expect of him. He feels like he's dealing with reasonable expectations and the appropriate supports to succeed.
Edited to add - I really hate it when schools present building social skills, leaderships skills, confidence or whatever as a valid and reasonable alternative to actually teaching kids content. However, coming out of a situation where those skills were damaged due to a poor fit. One year to work on those without academic progress seem reasonable and beneficial while he decompresses from a situation that wasn't working. But as a rule I think it's malarky and kids should be learning all those skills in addition to academics.
Edited by JollyGG - 11/4/13 at 9:18am