Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Day 21

I feel like all I did today was work.  I got over fifty emails today (I counted) and only about five of them were personal.  Not Worth It.  Except on payday. 

My new fallback when I have nothing to say is to complain.  Sit back and let me tell you a story.

Chloe's really enjoying the IB program at school.  She has a ton of homework and has to work pretty hard, but that's okay.  The teachers are really good and appear to enjoy teaching classes where all the kids actually do their homework and are fairly motivated.  But there's one class that Chloe's having some trouble with at school.  I won't say which one because someone might know the teacher.  I'll just say it's not the class where they get to take the baby home. 

So her class wrote a test about a week ago and half the class failed (not to brag or anything, but Chloe squeaked by with a 56% - my little overachiever).  When half the class fails, I can't help but think that either the material wasn't explained very well or that the test wasn't an accurate reflection of what was taught. 

So the teacher hands out a stack of worksheets and says that whoever completes them all can take a re-test in a week.  Then she proceeds with teaching the next unit without going over any of the things that people obviously didn't understand in the previous unit.  Chloe does the worksheets, but like most of her other classmates, she is still struggling with the concepts.  Many of them go to the classroom at lunch hour for extra help; sometimes the teacher doesn't show up when she says she'll be there, and when she is there, she still doesn't explain things clearly or patiently. 

The teacher warned the students that the re-test will be more difficult than the first test and that if they get a lower mark, too bad - that's their final mark.  Chloe writes the re-test after school on Friday because the teacher does not allow any further class time to be taken up with that unit.  (To be fair, I'm sure the teacher doesn't feel like staying after school either). 

Chloe found out today she got 52% on the re-test.  The teacher told them one-third of the class failed.  Again, I believe such a large number of poor marks reflects badly on the teaching methods.  Chloe has to take some responsibility as well; she probably could have studied harder, but she did everything in her power to get extra help.  The class is continuing on with the next unit now, but I'm concerned that there will be problems when exam time rolls around or when they take the next level of the course and are expected to build on what they should have already learned.  It's still pretty early in the year and if the students are struggling already, it doesn't bode well for the rest of the year. 

I emailed the teacher tonight to ask her for suggestions on how Chloe can get some help.  I told her that Chloe signed up for a peer tutor, but hasn't been assigned one yet (I omitted the fact that she only signed up today).  Maybe I should be more optimistic but I'm not expecting a helpful response.  I'm not really a tiger mom despite my best attempts, but I'm gearing up for a fight.  One thing that was stressed in the IB information session and many teachers have reiterated, is that they are always available and willing to help students who are having trouble with something.  This doesn't seem to be the case in this instance.  To complicate matters, I actually know this teacher as an acquaintance.  She's a nice person, but I can see how she might not be the most warm, gentle teacher ever.

What do you think?  What's my next step?  Or should I bother taking a next step?  Am I over-reacting?  Am I a tiger mom?  (please say yes!)  If you're a teacher, what do you think?  Will it work itself out?  Do I hire a professional tutor? (please say no).  What's the best way of dealing with teachers whose teaching style you don't love?

As I re-read this, I realize it's not the most captivating story.  But it was kind of therapeutic to write it all out.  So I'm sorry if it's boring but it was worth it. 

It's not my best "worth it" moment.  Tomorrow is a new day.


Anonymous said...

NOT boring at all.

And I completely agree that if THAT many kids failed not once, but TWICE, there is a problem with the delivery of the material. Personally, I'd set up a meeting with the principal. Maybe wait until the next exam so you know there is a definite pattern, but this really doesn't sound fair. High school is hard, there is no doubt. But kids should not be set up to fail. And how does Chloe do in all her other classes - the ones with out take home babies? That should be a good indicator.

I'm curious what others will say!


Anonymous said...

Generally kids in IB or honors are NOT the ones getting 56%, and just to let you know you are not the only tiger mom out there..At our last high school parent teacher, one parent said to the teacher "So how close are we to 100%", and another parent who has a child who scored 55/57 on a test asked the teacher what the child could do to get 57/57.
You are following proper channels by talking with the teacher first, and if you can't get anywhere there, then involve the admin.
As a teacher, professional practice would involve self reflection, and half the class failing would give me pause to think why this is happening with a class of "smart" kids. Keep fighting it!
-Cousin Carolyn

L said...

Thanks for the input. wow - trying to improve a 55/57 mark is pretty hardcore tiger mom!

The teacher went over Chloe's test with her today and bumped it up by a few marks. But she hasn't replied to my email yet...