As a parent, I spent more than just a few moments over the Christmas break wondering how my son was going to transition into his first year at secondary school this year. So far so good! This evening he came home and without prompting, secreted himself in his room to complete a homework task for his Spanish Language class – which he then proceeded to show his mother and invite feedback!! I may sound surprised, but you have to understand that in his previous two years at intermediate school this sort of thing had never happened. Evidently his Spanish teacher has captured his interest and inspired him to learn, and he thinks Spanish is pretty cool now. Seems this is his experience across all his subjects. So far so good 🙂
So with this being the experience in my household, I was somewhat taken aback to read an email that arrived from a friend of mine about an hour ago, describing the experience of her 13 year old daughter starting secondary school. The email is copied here in its entirety with her permission:
So….. my daughter has started with excitement and nervousness at High School! 13 years old, keen and eager to learn… 2 periods of health over the last 4 days = 5 pages of written RULES copied from an overhead projector.
The learning intention is “become familiar with health class routines.”
Success Criteria – “completed all overheads” – thereafter follows the 5 pages with headlines such as:
- Be prepared
- Get ready fast
- Be quiet
Followed by more paragraphs on what will happen if these basic expectations aren’t met.
- Not prepared – “copy out the lack of equipment essay in your own from from the window in C4 and hand to your teacher at the end of the next lunchtime. NO equipment will be loaned to students.”
- Not quiet -” copy the talkative behaviour essay in your own time from the window in C4 blah blah blah blah…”
As you can imagine this is only part of it!
What is a parent to do????????? Where are all those incredible 21st century teachers and learners hiding?????
Any words of wisdom on how to approach this in a professional manner??? LOL
My heart goes out to her. As a parent it is soul destroying to see your kids not enjoying school and turned off learning. As an educator it is downright concerning that this sort of behaviour is still tolerated in our schools.
And here is the problem. In our schooling system we have teachers both good and bad. We have schools that are both good and bad. Problem is, too often the whole system gets tainted by the bad, and the good gets overlooked or forgotten. We’re lulled into believing that the whole system is characterised by the sort of teacher my friend’s daughter has encountered.
So – what is the solution. While I may find it easy to go to my son’s teacher and provide positive feedback and offer some sincere thanks for the impact she is having, what would I do in my friend’s case? What is the appropriate response when such an experience may well shape her impression of secondary school and influence her participation for the next five years?
I, like my friend, would be interested in your responses.