"No excuses" - a road sign
It is not a good situation when a classroom teacher has to say to a parent at conference time, “I have never heard your child read.” If this is a kindergarten, first grade or second grade classroom – this comment deserves much questioning with no excuses. This is a time of foundation building when the focus should be on the WHOLE child. Instead we treat children as if they were a fraction, dividing them between teachers and giving the excuse that it is in the best interest of the child. STOP with the excuses. What is happening is that the focus is on achievement over a focus on the child. We will make sure achievement happens and sacrifice the child as we do it. This is how intense the testing era has become and how administrators and districts place programs and initiatives above children. I hear the excuses now – here they come - administrators and districts giving excuses on why they reduce children to fractions and numbers. I don’t want to hear it – no more excuses!
If you think this doesn’t happen – think again. I assure you that it does. How can a classroom teacher that is given a class of students never have heard a child read and not just one child, but half of the class? No excuses!! I don’t care what you are trying to do – this is wrong and not in the best interest of children. Administrators will tell you that they are providing interventionists and language teachers to help your child improve. Sometimes a child might be going to 3 different teachers in these early years. So who knows the whole child? Not the interventionists – they don’t see them for all subjects. Not the language teachers – they don’t see them for all subjects. The teacher used to be the one who knew the whole child, but with the division – now they don’t even know the whole child. If a teacher has never heard a child read – they don’t know the whole child. An interventionist and language teacher may say they know the whole child, but if they only have them for 30 minutes a day or even an hour – they DO NOT know the whole child. They may know some critical bits and pieces, but the focus is not on the whole child. Principals and assistant principals do not know the whole child. The sad thing is now the classroom teachers are not even allowed to be involved in decisions that pertain to their own students. No excuses! Be honest!
The worst of it is that parents often do not know that their child is being moved amongst teachers. Some students have ILP’s or IEP’s that say students will receive instruction outside the classroom, often parents don’t know what this means. But other children are also moved to various teachers without parent approval. The staff will have grouping meetings to decide who gets what kids for reading groups, etc. So children may even be moved among other teachers in the grade level without parent knowledge. If a parent calls to ask a question about reading, the classroom teacher might not be able to answer that question. So you will have multiple teachers that you need to see or talk to if you want a full picture of the growth of your child.
If you are a parent you need to ask some questions. Here are some questions I would ask: Who will be teaching my child reading? If it is not the classroom teacher – Why can’t the classroom teacher teach reading? Can you show me the data that says my child needs a different teacher for reading? Does the teacher know how to differentiate instruction (Basically can the teacher meet the needs of children with various abilities and backgrounds?) How many teachers will be working with my child? Who knows my child completely and the growth in all areas? How do you make the decision on what teacher provides services for my child? Is my child going to the teacher that takes all the low kids? (You must not be afraid to ask this.) How long will my child be going to that other teacher and how is the decision made to move them back to the classroom teacher? What is the difference between what the classroom teacher teaches and the other person teaching reading to my child? Will you notify me of all moves? Who should I go to for a reading conference? How is my English learner afforded time with English speaking peers? Does the teacher know how to provide for English learners, if so why do they have to go out of the classroom? If my child speaks no English, how is that instruction different than regular classroom instruction?
Social emotional learning begins with someone knowing the whole child. Treating children as fractions and numbers can lead to problems and no one understanding the child. No excuses! If we want to truly help children grow to become citizens who care about others and productive members of society, we have to know and work with the whole child. No excuses!
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