Monday, October 28, 2013

I'm really not telling you how to do your job....much



The Boy is struggling in middle school. There are a variety of reasons for his struggles: 1) Executive functioning issues- which means he has problems with organizing, prioritizing and activating to work, focusing, sustaining and shifting attention to tasks, managing frustration and modulating emotions, and utilizing working memory and accessing recall.  These are all things we have been working with for years, and while he has made progress, 6th grade is causing something of a regression, and that has me VERY worried. 2) Not properly prepared in elementary school. When you are having a child with an above average IQ do way below grade level work, not having any expectations at all, and not truly using inclusion strategies, despite my constant advocating, questioning and practically living at the school, these issues in middle school are a direct result. 3) Common core (or power standards as they call them here). Common Core has no business being in ANY classroom! It is fundamentally flawed, and does NOTHING for students in special education.
4) Teachers that still expect NOTHING from him, promoting laziness (YES- to some degree!) and no desire to try harder because why? Nobody expects it.  Assuming he is unable, as opposed to presuming he can. Which is somewhat ironic, as the "power standards" are all "I Can" statements.

So when I question HOW he is being taught, and the reason WHY he is taking re-take after re-take, while still supposedly moving ahead in the classes, and trying to take notes, and remember everything (see number 1 above), question WHY differentiated teaching is not being utilized, and I get an email saying that he will be taking notes and tests utilizing "lower level thinking" is it any wonder I get ANGRY?? (excuse my massive run on sentence!)

So  I send an email back, explaining how even with the "lower level thinking" modifications which apparently mean to draw pictures- another skill my boy has a hard time with and would be ZERO help. I re-worded the questions, had him read about them, and then he wrote AND typed his answers out. Modification time: 10 minutes. No "lower level thinking." We also did energy equations, again, about 10 minutes for me to modify- and again without employing "lower level thinking" I will gladly modify all of these ridiculous power standards, without losing important scaffolding, and without insulting my boy's intelligence with "lower level thinking" I charge by the hour though- and since this could presumably work for other students-you best get me on the payroll! Drawing pictures may work well for other students- it does not work for mine!! Back to the idea of differentiated teaching- it works with kids on the spectrum too! Imagine that!  I mean seriously- "LOWER LEVEL THINKING" How is there any way I can't take this as an insult to my son? Not expecting him to employ the higher level thinking skills I know he is capable of, even if it takes a little extra time for him to get it is unacceptable, and a HUGE disservice to him.

Yes- lower level thinking skills are necessary to achieve higher order thinking skills- BUT- it is important to help students utilize their higher order thinking skills, beyond concrete answers, and allow them to really show what they  know. Lower level thinking is memorization, which is important- but educating the WHOLE child requires more than just memorization skills. Richer understanding emerges only when a student is allowed to analyze, evaluate and come up with new information. This is not impossible for The Boy- it just needs to be worked with, and a patient teacher is needed.

lesson blooms





Three Bloom's Taxonomy charts, all the same ideas- presented in different ways 



No- I am not telling you how to do your job. I am telling you what will work best with MY son. I want to be partners with you in his education, but when I see the papers come home with the awful handwriting, when he is supposed to be able to use a computer,  and then I see the level of work that he is doing, and get emails talking about "lower level thinking" I see RED.  Yes, I am an educator as well, but when you talk to me about MY child- you talk to me as a parent. Do not insult him or I.

I know your feathers are ruffled, and that you are insulted that I had any input about MY son's education, and questioned why you are not modifying in a developmentally and grade appropriate manner. I know it irks you that I gave you an example of my modifications, which only took 10 minutes, and you think I  do not understand that you have a multi-grade class, with 7 students that need modifications to their work as well. That's where you're wrong. I DO get it. That is why I gave you a breakdown of what I did- with the hope that you can use that in school with The Boy, and maybe even possibly with other students. Sure, you may have to modify a little more to make it work in class, but as long as the basic framework stays the same- there should be no problem.

I don't want to be the PITA mom, the one you see coming and groan. But I will and can be. Instead of blowing me off, or being irritated with me, recognize that I do know what I am talking about, and together with your knowledge and teaching experience we should make an amazing team.