Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A conversation with my Daughter: 5th grade point of view

Chatting with my beautiful 5th grade daughter tonight was the catalyst for today's post.

Wow, if you really want to know about what is going on in your school, ask the students.

My fifth grade daughter gave me quite an earful about how her year is going and it concerns me that too many classrooms are like this. I'm not going to lie, very soon, I am going to pop into her classroom, sit down for a few hours and evaluate her teacher. If I have concerns after that, you better believe I'll be waiting to talk to her and the principal after school. Great reminder of how I need to focus when evaluating. Don't let the distractions interrupt the important job I am doing. I am responsible that every student received the education I want my daughters to receive.

The following is a rough transcript of the conversation I had with her about her day. Seriously, just talking about about her day, gives me a perspective I couldn't have without her.

Hey Love, what was the best thing about your day?
Lunch, recess, and art.

Dirty look!

I know, academically speaking. (We've had this conversation before as you can tell.)

My friends and I made up a math game during IE time. blah, blah, blah (rules, questions, how her friend likes Tommy and Tommy was part of the group!)

Why did you make up that game?

We were bored.

What were you supposed to be doing?
We can either do type to learn, go to the library, have free time, or sit in the hall and just talk, because we never get a chance to just talk.
(warning ding!)

What was your teacher doing?

Looking at us and making sure we weren't getting all crazy.
(sirens begin to blare)

Well doesn't she usually work with a small group?
Sometimes she works with the green group for math, the gifted group.

Does she ever pull your group for anything or groups that are struggling?
Thoughtful look.... No Never.
(head starting to throb)

Ok, change of subject. What was the worst thing about today?
The worst thing was lunch. Really bad food! The chicken had gross little white thingies in it and the bread tasted weird. My friend said the pizza doesn't even taste like pizza.

(Dirty Look)

I Know, I know ( big smile and a snuggle)
It's that our teacher has stopped doing a book read aloud. We started a pretty good book a while back, but she hasn't read it to us in over two weeks. I have almost forgotten what happened.

Why didn't you read it today?
Another teacher stopped by and they spent about 10 minutes talking in the hallway.


I also don't like how fast we are going and my friend Sylvia (name change) REALLY struggles with the way she teaches us.

OK, explanation needed.

Most of the time they go way to fast, she isn't not specific enough,  and then tells us to hurry up and we aren't ready. Sylvia wishes she would slow down and ask questions.

This began my next set of explicit questions.

What did you do in math today?
Reviewing decimals.

How did you review the decimals
We wrote questions down from the board and solved them. Then she called on people to come up to the board and solve them while we sat there and waited.

Rigor, relevance, engagement???

What about reading?
Look of confusion and a shrug. (Never a good answer)
I wish we were reading real books again.

What are you reading?
 The short stories in the big book. (textbook)

Did you do that today?
Yeah, we read the story and then answered the questions.

Questions, did your teacher give them to you?
No they were already at the end of the story.

(Facepalm) My oldest corrected this slang. I originally had Palmsmack!

Did you get anything accomplished that you are proud of today?
We had a writing prompt that was pretty boring. I got creative though and turned into a whole broadcast news thing. I thought it was funny. Too bad we only had an hour, I think I could have made it really good.

did you get anything else accomplished?
Not much reading, doing science at reading.  (couldn't get this clarified)

Anything else you would change from today?
 She calls mainly on 4-7 people, we feel left out. I wish she would change the way she calls on people. Half the class just sits there and daydreams because you know she isn't going to call on you. I got mad today because I had a great answer I wanted to share and she wouldn't call on me.

The worst thing is how she doesn't really pay attention when you talk to her.

This bothers you?
Yeah, Ms. Fish (old teacher) listened to kids, had fun with lessons and made us concentrate. I miss her even though she made us work harder. (Relationships!!!)

I have about a dozen key concerns that need to be addressed, but I'll stick to just a couple.

Does this teacher realize how much time is being wasted everyday?

Why does reading seem to be an afterthought?

This is a compliant classroom filled with good kids. How "effective" would she be in a more challenging school? (Completely ineffective) They would eat her alive.

I keep hearing how they lose time  for fun stuff because they are talking to much. Are you kidding me the foundation to a well run classroom starts with engaging effective lessons.

There most definitely will be a follow up to this post!
After I speak to and observe her teacher!


  1. Wow! Sounds like instruction is an "afterthought!"

    I had to put tally marks on the calendar. After I had 10, I had to consult with my son/student before I set a conference because I could only pick "one focus" for the conversation.

    Schools don't need more time if they aren't good conservators of the time that they have. I'm already looking forward to the Paul Harvey "Part 2!"

  2. The plight and advantage of being a teacher and parent. We know what we want to hear our kids say about classrooms...but when we don't hear what we should, we cannot prevent ourselves from speaking up. It really is a good thing...I wish all parents knew what I know and cared like I care. There was a time when I thought it was okay if my child got a not so great teacher (even a bad one) for a year...afterall, I had one and survived. Then, I looked at this thought again and said...NO IT ISN'T! I care too much about my child to allow that to happen. It sounds like this teacher had some good things in place at some point...wonder what changed.