disapproving kitty

Thursday, October 17, 2013

I was going through this blog and found this unpublished bit.
DS is a 1st grader now.
He made it out of Kindergarten with flying colors.
I'm thinking his teacher might feel we need to repeat it, especially given the level of forgetfulness and procrastination that putting a blog post out a year late implies.

We are failing Kindergarten.

Oh, don't worry, DS is just fine.  He got a good progress report, and the most negative thing his teacher could say about how he's doing is that he needs to work on putting more detail into his journal at writing time.


I think my teacher's main concern in kindergarten was to try to get me to quit eating paste, so I'm thinking that he's probably okay.

What we're failing at is being parents of a Kindergartner.  Each day, a very nice, organized folder comes home with one side filled with "things to stay at home" and the other with "things to be returned."  For the first several weeks of school I was dimly aware that this folder was in there, but I somehow figured that DS would let us know if there was something that needed our attention.


We also got a very nice notice about the other folder, his spelling folder, which contained his 10 spelling words for the week. I remember looking at it, admiring the organizational style of this teacher, and then sort of neglecting it.  Come Thursday I read it for real and realized that DS was supposed to be doing spelling homework every night.  We'd maybe done homework, oh...once.  So Friday morning before school you can guess what we had him doing.  If you've ever been around our house early in the morning, you can guess this was not the optimal time.  We are not morning people.

I'm not going to go into the "Reading Bag."  I'm just going to say that it was November before I realized that a) DS was supposed to read from it every night,*  b)he was supposed to write or color in the included calendar (even at this point I'm not sure if the title is supposed to be there or just some sort of marking to indicate he read to us.)

So, yeah.  He has a great teacher.  He's doing fine.  But if we get a report card, too, I really don't want to show it to my parents.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


           Lately I've seen a lot of my colleagues looking downcast, and more demoralized than ever.  I am, too.  It's been hard to articulate why, though, without people's eyes glazing over.  It just doesn't connect to something they really know.
           So, if you're a teacher, and you'd like to explain it a little better, share this.
           And if you're not a teacher, but you'd like to understand a little better--whether you love the teacher or have a gripe with her, or both, read this:

The Builder

Once upon a time there was a builder.  He built houses, and he was good at it.  He could look at plans and know, from experience, which plans would work well, which needed tweaking, and which ones should be sent back for revisions.  He knew his materials.  He understood wood and cement, nails and steel.  Knew how to check for flaws, how to shape and refine the materials he used to make them exactly fit what he needed for each home.  He loved his work, loved his team, loved seeing his fine homes, standing tall and beautiful, and knowing he’d done something of worth.
Then one day, the elected head of the local building council appeared, and handed him a set of plans.   They were rather different than other plans, but workable.  They called for things to be done in a different order than the builder thought was wise, but the client was insistent that these were the finest and best plans, designed from new understandings of the principles of building.
“Very well,” said the builder.  “I will study these, and work with them.  When should I expect my supplies to arrive?”
“Supplies?” asked the surprised councilman,  “Why, you have all the supplies you need!  They are everywhere!”
Raising an eyebrow, the builder looked about at the empty landscape and asked again, “Where?  What would you like me to use?  These plans call for all new kinds of materials, and I do have lots of bit and pieces in my truck, but the house they would build certainly wouldn’t match these plans.”
Exasperated, the official gestured widely to the environs.  “Why, there are supplies everywhere!  There’s a forest right there!  It has all the wood you could need!  There is clay beneath our feet that can make fine bricks!  There is a river of water just over that rise with a slate bed!  Good grief, man, you have all you could ask for! All you have to do is look.”
The builder raised his other eyebrow and replied, “Well, I suppose I could use them, but who is to ensure the quality -- I know nothing of the kind of wood or shale or clay that is out there.  And creating these materials will take a great deal of time.  I am very good at evaluating and using materials provided, but creating them whole is another matter entirely.  What extra staff and budget is there for this, for it will far exceed the costs of just building, which is the job for which I originally bid.”
Now infuriated, the councilman exploded, “What are you, lazy?  You tell me you’re an expert builder, yet you can’t make your own materials?  Who would be better qualified?  What, you want someone else to make things for you?   Time?  Why should I give you extra time?  You have plenty of time since you only 'work' 7 hours out of the day, and often spend weeks off at a time between jobs.  Staff?  We hired YOU, the ‘expert’, to build this home, and now you’re saying you want extra help to do what anyone could do easily in a mere moment?  I suppose you could use volunteers, but you’ll have to find them on your own time. I can’t even understand why you didn’t come prepared with all your materials in the first place.  Isn’t that what we pay you for?  To be prepared?”
The official stomped away, muttering “Skilled builder.  HA.  Lazy complainer is what he is.”  Then he turned and yelled, “If you DON’T do the job, NOW, to MY SPECIFICATIONS, I’ll let everyone know what a terrible job you do, how you are incompetent at even the most basic levels and you will never work in this field again!  Send me updates twice a day on your progress, with exact data and examples to show what you’ve done.”

“But….” began the builder, but the client was gone.  Shoulders drooping and head bent, the builder picked up his wheelbarrow and tools and trudged toward the rise, to begin work.  It would be a very, very long day.