I am one of those parents...you know you probably are too...the ones that like to go all the orientations, meet the teachers, actually discuss things back and forth with teachers to ensure your child is doing the most he can. I am sometimes tempted to skip the orientation, and just got the principal talking to for looking "bored" I was actually tired but you revert back to student deer in headlights when a principal calls you on something, since of course I already heard much of it from my older son's time in the same grade/school. I start the relationships with the new teachers by letting them know that I am here to partner with them not to "assist" them do their job because after all - shocking as this is for many parents today - I am not trained to be a teacher in the school.
I really like the schools in the area we live in. Yes, I was admonished for not doing SAT level prep work prior to buying a house on test scores, reading accomplishments...of the district by co-workers who did everything but interview the school board to ensure they were picking correctly. I am just not that demanding...or controlling...or forgetful that a school district is more than just scores. I looked for things like diversity, I grew up in Queens so to me this town is not even all that diverse it is just mixed, for a town that I could walk in, a commute that would get me home in time to help with school work and a house that I liked. I got all of that - but then I actually delivered the child I was carrying and was bombarded with what I nicely call the motherhood gestapo..did I sign up child (who could not hold own head up yet) for Gymboree, baby Mozart, physics online courses??? Umm no...guilt abounded - my child was already behind - and all of this while I was supposed to be playing Baby Einstein videos (while my infants loved them - they were bit like Chinese water torture to have on for an adult) and watching and encouraging milestones. Ahhhhh as if sleep deprivation and total responsibility for a newborn were not enough pressure.
I went to library classes, met some of the friends I have to this day -they were for the babies but ladies let's be honest they were a social outlet to escape from Baby Einstein videos too and I love you all for the time, read to my infants, bought "stimulating" toys (all went into the mouth so really the lead content avoidance was probably my greatest contribution) and ensured they had playdates. All this before said children could even identify a school building. So here we are in 1st and 3rd grade - comparing notes on teachers - when I was a kid you got a classroom, showed up first day and voila your teacher wrote their name on blackboard (a thing of the past in my school district which has been replaced by smartboards that I always want to play with when I visit my boys' classrooms 'cause they are soooo cool). However, not so in this town and while there is some merit to hearing opinions (she is like Nurse Ratchet and yells vs teachers loves job) in the end often experiences with a teacher really are defined by the child in the class. I have really liked all of the boys' teachers and boys are doing really well - their schedules are packed so much more and they are learning by far more than we parents did. There were teachers I thought were "better" and yet they were all good.
So as I sat there in the orientation I also thought that I am confused by what the expectations of teachers are...I mean they should be prepared and engaged, knowledgeable in their areas, fair, continue to enhance their teaching skills, not be subject to protection from being let go if they are not following above (come on there are crap ass teachers out there so let's not pretend there are not) and for me really want to do the job they are doing. In my town they are not underpaid nor should they be. I know we want to have kids who "score" as well as other countries but I for one do not measure by scores alone...innovation has most often come from the US even when their test scores did not lead. Our kids compete just fine - and they don't. They don't in areas where the socioeconomic community is poor (or even lower middle class), they don't when teachers do not want to be innovative because they cannot meet the "standards", they don't when they are hungry and most of all they don't when parents are not involved, encouraging and have made education a priority. Schools and teachers are only part of the puzzle...we as parents are the much bigger cog that needs to ensure that our kids respect the need for education and learning - that they learn to like learning - and that they understand that the highest score they can get is to be the best and be successful in their actions with the world around them as well as with their careers.
I fight not to panic that I am not doing enough - to not give in to the madness - and to continuously remind my children that they need to give learning the same adulation they give their entertainment. I am lucky to have boys who actually do well and like school and the goal I set for myself is to keep that going...is it enough? Like everything in being a mother I am not certain but I am sure that I am doing the best I can.