*Please note all opinions expressed here are my own and do not reflect on my Principal, School, School Board or even my own husband.

**Also note that although I am a teacher, I do have a learning disability. You may see evidence of this through my writing with my many run-on sentences and homonym mix-ups. I still have good ideas and won't let that stop me from expressing them and I tell my students the same thing.

***Even though many people think teachers know everything, I do not, in fact I know I have a lot to learn and that is part of why I love teaching. Feel free to teach me knew things, but when you leave comments, I ask that you be nice about it - thanks.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Holding Teachers Accountable... (Without EQAO) - Part 1

Let's do a little Math shall we...

1) How long does a child spend at school each day?

1 Day of school = 6 hours give or take recess

           x         195ish days of school in a year

                    1170 hours of school

2) Do you spend 6 hours on a school day with your child?

I see my kids for an hour before school and I am lucky to be home after school, so I see them for about 4 or 5 more hours before they go to bed - depending on the kid. So I am actually pretty close to seeing my kids for equal amount of time as their friends and teachers at school.  Those of you who work early shifts or work until 5 or 6 o'clock may actually see your child less than those who are at school.
Knowing that my children spend as much time at school, 5 out of 7 days a week, as they do with me... I want to know that my kids are in good hands.  I want to be re-assured that they are safe, healthy, happy and since they are at school, indeed learning.
So how do we know what is happening at school? 

Well we have a few options and it depends on your children and their teachers of course, but this post is:

Part 1- Keeping open dialogue with your child.  

Asking "How was your day?" often is met with "fine" and "What did you do today?" is typically met with "nothing" or if you are my son, "stuff".  So you have to know what kinds of questions to ask.  As a teacher, I like to email my parents every few weeks to let them know what is going on and I try to give Discussion Prompts.  Here are the ones I sent last week:

Discussion Prompts:

1) What is a Pentomino?  And what did you do with them?
2)  Did you hand your journal in today, if not how many entries do you have left to complete to get it done?
3) Who did you work with for Choose Your Adventure Stories today and what is your story about?
4) How do you draw a dog using a #5?

You can see that knowing what to ask could be very helpful, but you don't always have these questions handed to you. So, you have to keep having conversations so you know what to ask.  Start with questions like the following, but don't ask them all in 1 day:

-Who did you play with at recess?  Have I met that kid before?  What are you playing?  After you hear their name a few times, maybe ask if they want to get their phone number and have them over for a play.  (these questions ensure your child is being social, helps you know who their friends are and if they are keeping busy and out of trouble at recess)  My son's answers have recently changed to "we just hung out" or "we just chatted" and so I am encouraging him to do that some recesses, but also play wall ball or manhunt to mix it up a bit.

-What did you do in Math today?  Don't get an answer?  Prompt with things like fractions?  Multiplication?  And sometimes they will remember... my child says, "nope, that graphing thing we are doing" - then I say, "what graphing thing?" And all of a sudden he remembers they are doing a survey for the whole school and I find out what it is about and can inquire about it next week again. If you don't get a response, ask them to bring home their notebook or workbook to show you. (This allows you to see what they are working on in class and how they are doing, if you see a lot of blank pages or incorrect answers, you can follow up at home with more practice or talk to the teacher to see if you should be concerned)

-Does your teacher ever read books out loud to you?  Oh, yeah, what book are you reading right now?   What is it about?  Do you like it?  Why or why not?  Do you sit at your desk when they read or go to the carpet?  Do you take turns reading out loud or does only the teacher read?  Do you ever read in small groups or with partners?  Have you ever read out loud to your class or to your teacher? (This gives you an idea if the teacher is doing read alouds, shared readings or guided reading groups and helps give you an idea of what kind of books your child likes to read and why)

By asking your child questions like these, you will start to get a sense of what their classroom is like and how their teachers operate their classrooms.  Hopefully you are hearing good things from your child.  When they are happy or excited about school, then you feel comfortable letting them spend 6 hours a day there. As we all know, there are different types of teachers.  Personally, I think that is a good thing - this means over the course of a number of years, your child will receive a variety of teaching strategies and learn to deal with various types of personalities and expectations.

There are times however, when the answers you get are not satisfying or they worry you. Then you have to determine what you want to do about it. Do you need to talk to the teacher and find out what is going on? Do you need to remind your child/yourself that there are 25 odd kids in the class and monitor more closely? Do you want to check with another parent in the class to see if their child is having similar issues?

In my next post, I'll talk about Parent/Teacher Relationships and what to do if you are not hearing answers you are happy with.

1 comment:

  1. Can I tell you my favourite question to ask my kids at lunch or after school? I like to ask what was the best thing about your morning/afternoon/day. If I get, I don't know as an answer, I tell them they need to pick something, one thing that they liked about their day at school. Usually that gets me a story.


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