Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Main Entry: ca·coph·o·ny
Pronunciation: \-nē\
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural ca·coph·o·nies
Date: circa 1656
: harsh or discordant sound : dissonance 2; specifically : harshness in the sound of words or phrases


I like this word tonight. It epitomizes how I feel my life has been since about September - maybe August but I can't remember that far back. What I do know is that since I've entered the teaching world I never felt as blah as I have this year. I usually see a positive in my day no matter how bad it appears to others. It comes from my time working for CPS. There were days when the bad guy won - those were bad days. There are no bad guys in my day as a teacher. There are concerned parents attempting to do right by their children. Passionate teachers attempting to do anything to help their students. Supportive administrators willing to problem solve as we go. There are no bad guys - no boogie men - just a community striving to achieve a common goal. We all want the children to grow up, become productive citizens, and move out of their parents houses.
With that being said all these people working toward a common goal seem to be in dissonance in my life right now. I know it's a perception that I have and am trying to get through and not reality. I hear other people talk about the same dissonance though and I'm struggling to obtain harmony. I hear the teachers talk about - if only everyone can see where they are coming from. I hear parents say the same thing. Some times dissonance is good. It brings about healthy discussion and change. I think this is why the dissonance is bugging me so - I know that it's the moment before some great change happens. Every school year is a change and every school year we talk about "if only the changes would stop" - but I'm trying to pray about this dissonance and all I keep coming back to is that there's a change about to happen. A change that God intended for my little community, and that this change is good. The difficult part is living in the dissonance - waiting for the change to harmony. I am very uncomfortable and God knows it. I am having to have a lot of faith that he will bring something great out of this time, and something that serves his purpose.
So - You would think the dissonance is only in the work place. No. Some of you know that I tend to see things as a system. In college I never thought I would think this way. I just never fit into any department that was systems based. I have always worked in systems based places and tend to thrive within systems - even systems that change often. Z is in 2nd grade and the more I learn about the elementary world the more I learn that the system is messed up. This broken system has caused great dissonance in my life, in Z's life, and the house as a whole. There is such a disconnect that I spend a lot of time in contact with the school. Rumor has it that I've been referred to as "One of those parents" - not a compliment. So what is "one of those parents"? For me it is a parent of a child who does not fit any mold - or parts of the child in one place or another, but not in a specific mold. A parent who reads everything and learns everything they can about what their child is doing in their day. A parent who follows the whole child and wants the needs of the whole child met. I actually like "those parents" - they're my favorite. I also like teachers that invest in their students. Who establish relashionships, and try to develop the uniqueness of the child.
With that said I'm an exhuasted parent. I'm tired of getting pieces of information from a billion places and no one putting those peices together to try to figure out the child. The system is broken. I am about to get very public about the broken system in relation to our family. This is our 3rd year involved with the school system and I'm exhausted. I don't want another parent going through the madness we have been through. I do not want another child going until the week before Thanksgiving their 2nd grade year or later before they say that they feel part of their learning community. Z is a little bit quirky. I admit it. I know it. It's what I have laways loved about him. His quirks were never an ordeal until he attended public school - then his quirks were a problem. The question is who is it a problem for. At this point it's a problem for every one. We've been told, "when this happens it will be better" - ok we've been told that for ever and still waiting for things to be as you expect them. Today I met with the school to discuss some paperwork that I requested and read. I was disappointed in the paperwork because it did not address the 4pages of concerns I had e-mailed about. I know - 4 pages is a lot and you're thinking "She really is one of those parents". The 4 pages is a compilation of all the teacher concerns I had heard in the past 3 weeks about my child, and my few questions about the schools response to those concerns. Here's where the system is broken. I was informed that the meeting was held to address the behavior concerns and was provided with an additional page to the paperwork that was previously omitted. The behavioral concerns are on a teir 2 and they required a meeting. The teachers assessment was that my child had no consequences for his actions and that was a problem. They had to put consequences in place. Now I'm thinking - could the problem be that it's November and you have yet to implement standard classroom discipline with a child and your expecting better behavior. Just a thought. Hold on - this is a child who every year before school starts we request a meeting with the teacher to ask that they impliment standard classroom discipline from the first day and to not allow any grace periods. Every year this gets over looked and every year about October they get frustrated at the behavior. Funny - I read Harry Wong's First Day of School - didn't you? If not I highly suggest it. Great book and prevents a lot of problems that could really mess up a school year. So..... Z has behavior problems. I get that. He does not fit into a stereotype that the district has perpetuated by it's antiquated definiton of "gifted". Oh well - that may be why he has a parent who researches what it means to be gifted, and then provides the school with that information. So to add to the problems the teachers have expressed great concern with Z's fluency. He's had difficulty with this since kinder and we work on it. This issue was not addressed in their teir 2 meeting. Apparently the fact that he's failing profiles, tests and quizes, has low DIEBLES, and had regression despite summer interventions is not a teir 2 issue. It is still a teir 1 issue and does not warrant discussion at the teir 2 meeting about the child. I'm still trying to figure out how the child is not always a teir 2 child and how come no one sees a coorelation to classroom behavior and academic ability. I'm also trying to figure out why a student who's issue as described by the teachers is fluency is not being considered for intervention. He is being considered for placement change. Really?!?!!? He's accessing the content, but fluency is low and you want to change placement?!?!?!?! Lets see how that effects behavior. Honestly - if it wouldn't do damage to my child I would allow the placement change to occure so they can see the significant impact on the behavior and learn from their mistake, but it's my child. OK - I wouldn't even do that to my student and I would definitely speak up if I saw it happening to any student. So I'm beyond the point of pissed off parent and am at the point of do what you want because you'll eventually get tired of meeting with me and see what's going on in this childs educational system. As much as I enjoy our conversations do not enjoy getting up to be at a school at 7am to discuss such huge issues and making sure both children get where they need to be. I don't enjoy telling my 2nd grader that he has to go to tutorials - every day until I put a stop to that. Now he only goes weekly. I don't enjoy knowing that my child is pulled out of class on a daily basis to go to learning lab because the interventions are not provided in the classroom. I don't care how you've actually worded it the past few conversations, but what you've said is that my child isn't bad enough off yet to warrant interventions. Really?!?!?!?! You don't find it odd that a 2nd grader needs CMC daily, tutorials daily, and still having difficulty bad enough off? The sytem is broken.
So I continue to talk to people on campus and be "one of those parents". Now I get the joy of discussing the system with district people because the system is broken. Here's my disclaimer though. The system is not broken every where and for every child. It is broken for my child. He falls into an interesting gap that the law has chosen not to protect. It is his lot in life, but it does not mean that I have to tolerate inadequicy.
So I sit listening to the cacophony - waiting for the resonance - waiting for harmony. There was a moment of rest this evening. Z talked about his current classroom teacher - a sub that he's had in 2 classes now while teachers are on maternity leave. He has recently had a streak of green days and so excited about it. He talked about how each night he plans how he's going to get green the next day and it happens. He talked about how the teacher trusts him to do good, and that she set high expectations. He talked about wanting to exceed those expectations. He talked about a desire for his other teachers to do the same thing. He knows that he has to earn their trust, but that he feels he will never be able to. Thank you Mrs. Winters for making a difference in the life of my child. He has waited his entire educational career for this feeling. We are greatful for this moment.
As for my work day - I'm going to make a mental change no matter what it takes. I'm going to seek out the harmony in this symphony. All I ask is that my peers join me. I can't do it without you.

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