Saturday, December 03, 2005

teacher conferences, etc.

For record-keeping purposes (and for who ever's interested) I wanted to post about the conferences we had a couple weeks ago with the kids' teachers. I just haven't had time to get to it. For those who don't know or don't remember, my children are in Spanish immersion schools. Georgie is in fifth grade and Lidia is in second. They both started Spanish immersion this year in another district. They were able to test in to the school because they already spoke some Spanish. Marcus started kindergarten this year in our district's new Spanish immersion program.

First we had a conference with Georgie's teacher. He and G seem to hit it off pretty well. He is more strict than the other teachers in that he expects the children to be responsible. When they haven't written down their homework assignments he makes them stay in at recess. G got a 2 percent in reading because she hadn't turned in her reading log. G is doing well with Spanish. He said she speaks very naturally and has a good accent. She still has some catching up to do in writing--of course the other children have been writing in Spanish since Kinder and she just started this year. All three of G's standardized test scores, math, reading, and language usage, were the highest (by quite a margin) in her class. She was recommended for the gifted/talented program. She started Math Challenge a few weeks ago and will begin in-depth thematic unit study this week.

When we arrived for Lidia's conference, her poor teacher could not speak above a whisper. She had laryngitis, worsened by conferences. The first thing she said was, "There is one thing I want to say first about Lidia: She absolutely refuses to give up." I started crying and then the teacher started crying. J told me later, "You both started crying and I didn't know what the heck was going on!" The thing is, Lidia's teacher and I watched her go through a really difficult time at the beginning of the year. She couldn't understand most of what was going on in the class. Understandably, she often became frustrated and sometimes cried. But no, she never gave up. She gave it her all. Second graders are not the most tactful people, and her classmates frequently pointed out that Lidia didn't know as much Spanish, couldn't speak as well, etc. This hurt Lidia's feelings, but it also made her more determined to succeed. The week before our conference, Lidia had finally begun a series of successes that were making her feel more confident and competent. Now, almost a month later, she is very confident in class. The teacher really enjoys Lidia's sense of humor. At conference she told us that the day before one of the boys had been acting really silly and hyper. Lidia looked at the teacher and thumbing toward the boy said (in Spanish), "Who put a quarter in that guy?" The teacher burst out laughing, and then she had to explain to the boy why she was laughing.

Marcus's teacher says she also enjoys his sense of humor. She showed us several examples of his work that were pretty funny. They had taken a little nature walk outside and learned about the parts of the tree. Marcus insisted that some of the leaves on the trees were curled in a way that made them look like hot dogs. When they returned to the classroom their assignment was to draw a tree and label the parts. Marcus did so, but he also drew some curled up leaves and labeled them "hot dog." Marcus's teacher says that he has un uncanny ability to act like he is not paying the least attention, but really he is hearing everything. She says she frequently finds herself thinking, as she is explaining directions, "This time I'll get him. This time he won't know what to do because he is not paying attention." However, she has not caught him once. He always knows what to do. Because Marcus is reading well he was recommended for the "Reading is Fun" program. I'm a volunteer in this program. The volunteers go in every week and have one-on-one time reading and discussing books with the children who can read. It is such a valuable program! I would have loved to have something like that for G and L. I really like the administrator at Marcus's school. She is very driven and very on top of things. Her mentor was the formidable (practically legendary) principal of G and L's school.

1 comment:

Athena said...

Your children are troopers. I understand what you are going through--or rather, maybe you understand what I'm currently going through with language immersion schools. They say that it's easier when children are young to learn another langauge, but it's still a challenge, at least in the beginning.