Friday, August 17, 2012

My satellite posse needs to shape up

Obviously, I'm a HUGE supporter of my kids' teachers.  I let my kids' educators know early on that I've got their back.  Considering, combined, my kids have had nine teachers, and I've only found one to be a horrifically bad fit personality-wise and one that shouldn't have been in the game at all (Shockingly, she was a year away from retirement.).  In terms of equal disclosure, my son has also had two of the best teachers I've ever encountered, and my daughter in only three years has had two really great ones.  Not bad odds, all things considered.

The issue is, as vigorous as I am a volunteer and supporter, if things go off track, I'm an even more vigorous advocate for my babies, um, children.  Yep, Momma Bear comes out, but I always give teachers the benefit of the doubt first, kind of like a cat playing with a mouse prior to eating it.  Oh, and I NEVER tell them what I do for a living.  I want to see how they'll react.  Yeah, this only works once, cuz teachers talk about parents, yo, but the way our district switches schools every three years, it gives me a good run.

What is an amusing observation is the handful of times I've had to bring down the hammer, I've noticed something, and it's something I see in myself too and I try to curb with my students.  It must be handed out with teacher DNA.  It's this way of being extremely definite, solid as a rock, no nonsense about something that may--or may not--be true.  Us teachers, we've got a way of making things sound like a done deal when there is absolutely wiggle room, maybe even turn cartwheels room.  I get this reaction when, after I've listened, said my peace, they give me a definite answer, I say "no" and they look at me strangely.  Sometimes I have to repeat myself.  See, because this is the secret.  As kids we're taught to respect our teachers, and most aren't used to having parents who aren't just plain nutty disagree with them.  It's not the order of things.  So then they bring out the "definite" voice, which I am immune to, give me a cockamammie reason, and I get to trot out phrases like "hmm, that position isn't supported by current educational pedagogy." I've actually had one teacher's eye twitch as she said "Eh?"  That's when I trot out the knowledge that I know what I'm talking about since I'm in higher education.  This also has to be said with the correct amount of "bazinga!" in the voice.  I'll admit, it's fun.

Case in point, earlier in June, I had sent an email requesting my daughter not have the same teacher as my son had in third grade.  She wasn't BAD, but I knew she wasn't a good fit for my daughter's personality.  I received a response from the principal, which I saved.  Lo and behold, out of the five available teachers, she's assigned the one I said she shouldn't have.  I called the school.  Before I could even be allowed into the principal's inner sanctum, the secretary told me "changing wouldn't be possible." 

. . . I'm taking a pause here as those who know me well are giggling right now. . .

I repeated my need to speak with the principal.  Principal gets on the phone and tells me in the definite voice that she never received my email.  I say I'm looking at it.  She asks me to forward.  I do.  She still says she never received it.  I tell her to look at HER REPLY which I included.  She then waxes on about email upgrades, confusion, blah, blah, blah.  In other words, BUSTED!  I'm getting a call today about her new placement.

The moral of the story is, if you want something done, be prepared to be a squeaky wheel.  I'm okay with it, I like grease.

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