Even though I am a teacher and have taught for years, I am feeling, for the second time in my life, incredible frustration with one of my children's school teachers. Since I have been their primary, almost their only, teacher, that's a little disconcerting.
Am I frustrated with the history teacher because she is in fact being unduly hard and misleading? Or is it my perception of her actions because my precious son is the one who is having difficulties?
I, of course, think it is the first problem. I am not in the class, so I do not know for sure, but I have seen the notes my son has taken to prepare for this exam he is supposed to take. I have to trust that he took the notes she gave. He did miss several notes, so I am not concerned about those. We had to look up the information and so his answers are much more complete on those questions. But on some of the questions he has very specific answers. Supposedly knowing everything on the review list will enable him to make a hundred on the test. But I've now looked at the test and I know that they will not.
The teacher has asked the parents not to use the test to guide the students' review. And I hadn't. We've gone over the two pages of notes plus the map time and time again. We, in fact, have notecards on everything in the review sheet and even more. But I have now opened the test and I know that one of the answers he has on his review sheet is not sufficient to answer the questions on the test. He memorized all the answers on the review sheet. In fact, he knows all the information on the review sheet. But it is not enough.
Now the question becomes did she give sufficient information and he is just such a slow writer that he missed several notes, specifically about Jamestown? That is certainly possible. He does write slowly and it is hard to take notes when you write slowly. Or did she just assume that the information he has on the sheet would be sufficient to answer the questions? It's not. She is a very strict grader and I know that she does not want the simple facts he has written down there. She wants to know more.
I do not find this frustrating simply because of the test. I have been helping him with his homework, making sure he has done it and is caught up with the work, since he is only 10. (Of course some of my high school students need their parents to help with that, too.) Yet despite the fact that I am a teacher and I was a history major, many decades past, and that I have been helping him and making sure it's all done, he still doesn't have an A average. It's a low B.
This is not my work and I have not been doing it, simply insuring that he got it done, but oftentimes I do not think I would have done any better. I'm 41. I have a PhD. I think I would be making a low B in this class. That disturbs me.
It disturbs me for several reasons. One is that I want my son to succeed. I want him to feel that he is smart and good at school. This is his first non-home class which is for an academic subject and he is not doing great. Yet this is his favorite and best subject. Another is that if I couldn't get an A, how can she expect middle school kids to do so?
I have spoken to her about the amount of time it takes M- to do his work. We spend at least an hour every day working on it. Her answer was that her son only spends 30 minutes on it. So her son can do the work in an hour that it is taking my son 7 hours to do. Have I put my son in over his head? Is he really not old enough for this class? Is it too much for him academically?
In some ways it seems it must be. It is taking him 7 hours and he and I together aren't getting it enough to get an A.
But I don't want it to be. I don't want to take him out of this class and have him feel he wasn't good enough. I want him to enjoy the class. He enjoys the subject.
Also, if I take him out, he's going to be sitting in study hall while I work. That's not a good use of his time. He's already in study hall for three hours a week. During that time he does his science and math for the whole week. (Well, no experiments, but other than that…)
I wish I knew what to do.