Welcome back to my open house of neighbors! This week I’m thrilled to introduce you to my neighbor Nicki. I found Nicki’s Nook in the blogosphere back in November through some other neighbors of mine (that’s how we roll around here… friends meet friends, become friends, share friends and on and on) and her honest thought provoking comments and posts intrigued me. I went on to find out that she has six, yes you read that correctly, SIX kids. I was determined to stop moaning and groaning about the stress in my life over two measly (that would be measly as in small, insignificant, not measely, like the itchy bumpy disease) kids after finding this out but, yeah, that didn’t happen. It has been inspiring to say the least, that not only did she raise #1-#6 but they are all older than my kids so she raised them successfully! She has given me hope that I can do it too! Nicki always writes about topics that are important to HER, but we can all relate. You’ll find that you have to stop and THINK after reading her posts because they bring up very interesting topics that stir the mind a bit. I do promise though that you’ll be Hooked on the Nook just like I am.
Drama! I wish I had a sign for my door that said “Drama Free Zone!” Unfortunately, my youngest, affectionately known as #6, might not like that as he has discovered a love of the performing arts.
The latest issue in the wonderful world of six kids has come through my drama-loving #6. About three years ago, my school district put in a system called “Parent Portal.” Each student was given a separate ID. The first year or two parents were required to attend a training session to be able to use the system. I didn’t have time. I didn’t really want to go to a computer training session when I spent more time on a PC than most of the IT people at the district. I chose to not partake. Teachers could get a hold of me. All had my email and my phone number. I liked these tried and true techniques. I could, if absolutely needed, call or email the school.
Generally, I didn’t initiate a lot of contact. I just responded if there was an issue. With more than one child in a particular school building, I did not always get to meet teachers during curriculum nights. I would request, through guidance, a separate meeting with the child’s teachers shortly after that event to be sure I knew what was expected of each student in each different class.
The last two years, at least at the high school level, the curriculum night involved being given your password and log in for each child to “Parent Portal.” No training class necessary. I do log in occasionally but prefer to have discussions, face to face, with my children as to how classes are going. I like to think that I am their advocate so I need to have their side of the coin. I like to think I can trust them to tell me they don’t like a teacher or the explanation for this assignment is confusing. I do not log into “Parent Portal” often and usually it is to check attendance records. I don’t want my kids skipping classes.
Imagine my surprise when second quarter mid-term grades came home at Christmas time. #6 is failing English. He has never had a super great grade in English but he had not turned in several assignments – which I did find out from checking “Parent Portal.” My surprise was not his English grade. My surprise was that I had not once been contacted by the teacher. No email home at Thanksgiving time that my son had not turned in a major essay. No email or phone call home during the three weeks of classes in December that my son had not turned in some minor homework assignments and then another essay. No nothing from the teacher.
I went back over my phone/caller ID logs. No calls from the school district showed on it during that time. I kept thinking maybe I had missed the call and subsequent message. NOTHING!
While I think school districts need to put in as many ways to communicate with parents as possible, I am at a total loss as to why I have still not heard from the woman who is my son’s English teacher. He does not have an overall failing average. His overall average, not including PE class, is 80. His English average is in the mid 30’s so you can tell he is just not doing something as he is not stupid. He has said, though, he doesn’t understand what the teacher wants.
But I am still hung up on why I haven’t heard from the teacher. The spring drama has been cast and my son has a part. The director emailed all the students’ individual teachers, as opposed to asking for student averages from Guidance, for concerns. The English teacher told the director she didn’t think my son should be allowed to participate, but still NO word to home from this teacher about my son’s grades and lack of participation in her class.
The question is does having an online grade system in place allow a teaching professional to abdicate his or her responsibilities to contact parents. Should I be upset that the teacher isn’t talking to me but is talking to her colleagues about my son? Also, should I be concerned that the code of conduct, which the teacher is sighting as the reason #6 should not be allowed to participate in drama, does not say anything about passing every class?