Schools in Northern Virginia don’t begin until after Labor Day so we are just now getting into Back to School Night season. My turn was last night. I got the opportunity to walk through my seventh grade son’s schedule and spend a whole ten minutes with each teacher. It really isn’t very enlightening but it does put a face with the name of each teacher. My presence also provides extra credit points for his math grade.
Probably because this is my fourth time as a seventh grade parent I am feeling pretty relaxed. I know the drill. The biggest factor right now is teaching my son organizational skills. Each child has an assignment planner in elementary school, but the teacher tells the children exactly what to write in it. In middle school, the student must decide for himself what needs to be written in the planner. There are lots of helps including school web sites that keep a log of assignments, but it is still up to each individual student to take care of himself. Time management is always a challenge. My sons have always struggled with estimating how much time a task will require. Red flags go up when I hear a child say, “Oh, I have plenty of time. I just have to do X, Y, and Z.”
I really like the math teacher. My daughter also had her in seventh grade. However, she does make some parents uncomfortable. This is an honors math class. She was very frank with the parents. This class is rigorous and the children will be challenged. For most of them, they have gotten good grades in math without a lot of extra effort. This year will be the first time that many of them have had to study outside of class time. They will see grades on quizzes that they have never seen before. That is okay. They will have the opportunity to correct quizzes and retake quizzes until they learn the material.
This approach upsets some parents because they are worried about their child’s self esteem when he sees a C or lower on a quiz. Can he handle it? Actually, I wonder if the real issue is can the parents handle it. A student teacher once told me that at one back to school night the parents split up after homeroom. Part went to the general math class and part went to the gifted math class. She stopped one mother because she was going to the gifted class when her son was in the general math class. The mother persisted and went to the gifted class. She didn’t want other parents to know that her child was only in general math.
Another observation from Back to School night is they must have lowered the admission age for colleges because some of these teachers look like babies! In fact, I realized that two of my son’s teachers are first-year teachers and I am old enough to be their mother. Very different from the first child when his teachers were usually my contemporaries or older.
This short introduction to my son’s teachers was very positive. I don’t think I was disappointed in any of them which is really wonderful. All in all, it looks like a great year ahead. I will be asking St. Benedict as well as Blessed Mother to pray for my son and all the students during the school year.