Friday, October 26, 2012

Our Journey to and Through Homeschooling: Our Year With the Drill Sergeant

Back to school my boy went and his little five year old brother went with him.  The five year old got a phenomenal teacher.  He had a great kindergarten year with an ideal kindergarten teacher.  She was firm, but she was young and new to teaching and  made learning fun.  He was off to a great start!

But in the second grade hallway, problems were brewing.  My sensitive child had been put in the classroom of a drill sergeant.  Seriously, she was former military, totally type A personality.  She should have been teaching in a boot camp-type juvenile facility.  That would have been a perfect fit for her.   She was all sweetness when everything and everyone was flowing smoothly.  But really, in a classroom of twenty plus children seven and eight years old, how often does smoothly actually happen?   

So my remedy was to be there- a lot!  I became a volunteer extraordinaire. One morning per week, I helped another mom and the PE teacher unload children from their parents' vehicles as they rolled through the car line.   I was in the classroom one day a week for 50-75% of the day.  I graded papers, I listened to students read, I cut out bulletin board components. I had lunch with that class on that day each week.   I did whatever I was asked to do.  And I sat in HER office area and listened to those precious children get yelled at and harped on daily.  

Very soon, I realized that I was in a precarious situation.  The other parents began to get complaints of how Ms. Teacher was behaving from their beloved children.  Then they began to approach me and ask questions.  Awkward!  I had to be truthful and yet, I had to be there for my sake as well as my child's sake.  I couldn't risk making Ms. Teacher so angry that she asked me not to come back.   As it turned out, it didn't matter.  

As the year progressed, it became obvious that Ms. Teacher thought she was accountable to no one.  I  knew of several parents who had gone to the principal, some repeatedly, with their concerns.  It seemed as though nothing could be done.  Nothing changed.   Rumor was that her students had a history of such great test scores that she was "above the law" when it came to her classroom conduct. And oh, did she teach to the test.  If I had a nickel for every time I heard her say, "Boys and girls, listen carefully, this will be on the test you take in the spring,"  I'm not sure what I could buy because I didn't count.  But I did hear that phrase repeatedly.  

I mentioned to my minister several times that I felt like possibly God was trying to get MY attention through that woman.  As usual, I went on with my feeble plan.  I kept that boy in that class in that school.  WHY DO I NEVER LISTEN TO HIM???      

I also had began to take that boy to a psychologist due to anxiety.  And he vomited almost every day before school, during school.  He couldn't eat breakfast most mornings because of his nervousness at going to school.  And yet, I still didn't believe that I could do a better job than the school!   Yes, I'm very ashamed of myself as I type this.  It's now eight years later and I'm amazed that I was so naive and frankly, STUPID!

But we survived that year!!  And so did all those other precious children!  Ms. Teacher?  She survived that year also.  But after the next year, she was politely told to transfer to another  school.  And I was told that during that school year, a traffic stop by a deputy somehow led to her missing school without notice for several days and she was subsequently fired.  Ahhhhh, one bad teacher removed from the system!   Thank You God!

Thankfully, the next three years, both boys were blessed with wonderful teachers who seemed to have the gifts that my boys needed at that time in their lives. The youngest son also had a second grade teacher that brought us some challenges.  But with her, it was more of a cultural-type challenge.  She was from an area with a much different southern dialect.  The greatest challenge was in understanding everything she said.  But she was very kind!  And we had learned that we could stand about anything as long as the teacher was kind!   And so our venture back to public school continued.   

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