One child is in the lower elementary school, and one child is in the upper elementary school. Each has its own principal and counselors and curriculum, so each does Back to School on a different night.
Part of me hates Back to School Night. The same speeches, always about fostering a love of learning and creating a culture of respect. But part of me is a sucker for it: I love sitting in that teensy chair and picturing my child there. I love looking around the room and seeing what he sees. The notes they write, the notes we write back… I love all that stuff. But two nights in a row? Exhausting!
Aidan’s session was first. He has a great teacher, just really enthusiastic and excited about her job. They’ll be growing mealworms in science class (please don’t let him bring them home as pets…). They’ll have homework this year. Chinese every day. Computer class. Art, P.E. and Music. And he loves every minute of it.
Shay’s session was last night. He also has a great teacher, very mild-mannered and confident. The students each made their own newspaper to hang on the wall, complete with stats about themselves and stories about their heroes. Shay chose his dad as his hero, and it was so cute to see Bart get teary at the sight of that. Next to Shay’s newspaper hung another, and that little girl had chosen Jesus as her hero. So, all in all, I think Bart’s in good company, don’t you?
I’m a little frustrated with the Chinese program, though I won’t vent too much, as one never knows who is reading this blog! We were supposed to meet with the specialist teachers at the beginning of the night. The school is huge, but they told us the Chinese teachers were all on the 3rd floor. We spent 30 minutes wandering up and down the corridors, unable to find a Chinese classroom with our son’s name on it. Finally, we ran into the man who runs the whole school, and he mentioned there was a fourth Chinese classroom on the second floor. Down we went, and sure enough, his teacher was there, having just finished her presentation. I think I came on a bit strong with my interrogation, because I was so irritated at missing the entire presentation, but I threw a ton of questions her way in the five minutes before we had to go back upstairs, and I’m really not liking the way the program is going. They’ve thrown new kids in with kids like Shay, who is going on his third year of studying Chinese. But they won’t admit they’ve done it. The teacher said all of his classmates had Chinese last year, and when I pointed to two kids who were brand new to the school, she grew quite flustered. I don’t so much mind if they’re going to mix kids that way, but if so, they need to be honest about why they’re doing it. And if they think the new kids can hop in and sink or swim, then why can’t they put kids like Shay in with the neo-native speakers and let them sink or swim there? I think they are dumbing down the program for non-native speakers with the idea that the kids can’t handle it, and it really ticks me off. So. Didn’t I just say I wasn’t going to vent too much? I asked the teacher for a conference, and hopefully she’ll be able to reassure me then that they do plan on teaching my son Chinese. We only have one year to go, and I don’t want my kid just drifting through Chinese class. I want him progressing, even if he’ll forget it all by the 6th grade.
In other news, my job at the Embassy starts back up a week from today, so I have loads to finish up here at home between now and then. Doctor’s appointments, veterinary appointment, school meetings, a trip to the tailor and those two articles that are slowly getting done. Maybe I can even squeeze in a massage? But none of that will happen if I don’t wrap this up.
So, without further ado, here are some photos of Aidan's classroom. (I was so flustered after the search for the Chinese classroom that I forgot to take photos of Shay's)
A self portrait:
An exercise in teamwork: