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Stopping The Problem Before It Multiplies

, , , , | Learning | December 1, 2014

(I am in third grade and we are learning long multiplication. We were using a method called the ‘house method,’ which is very ineffective. I’ve known the proper method since first grade. It’s parent-teacher conferences.)

Teacher: “[My Name]’s performances in math have been very low.”

Dad: “What? What have you been teaching her?”

Teacher: “We have been sending the worksheets home. Haven’t you been showing them to your parents, [My Name]?”

Me: “No.”

Teacher: “Why not?”

Me: “I didn’t want to embarrass my parents.”

Teacher: “They needed to know you were failing math!”

Me: “I didn’t want to seem like I was bragging because I know everything.”

Dad: *awkwardly* “What has she been failing?”

Teacher: “Multiplication.”

Dad: “[My Name], can I see the worksheets?”

Me: “Sure!”

(I take the worksheet from my desk and give it to Dad. Dad looks at it.)

Dad: “These are all right.”

Teacher: “Yes, using the wrong method. And they are supposed to be wrong. Those questions are designed to be wrong.”

Dad: “So what you’re saying is she’s too smart.”

Teacher: “Yes.”

Dad: “Say your good-byes, [My Name].”

(I had a new school by next week.)

This story is part of our Parent-Teacher-Conference Roundup!

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Teaching With Love

, , | Learning | October 30, 2014

(I am an American, but am currently living in Spain teaching English. I’m teaching a five-year-old girl about different ‘family’ vocabulary. She has just learned the word ‘mom.’)

Girl: “Do you have a mom?”

Me: “Yes, of course!”

Girl: “Where is your mom?”

Me: “Well, she is in the United States. That’s where I’m from.”

Girl: *starting to look quite concerned* “But when will she come to visit you here?”

Me: “She’s pretty far away so she won’t be able to visit me here, but I’ll get to see her again soon when I go back to the US.”

Girl: *absolutely devastated* “Doesn’t she love you?!”

This story is part of our Spain-themed roundup!

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Writing’s On The Wall For This School

, , , , , | Learning | August 27, 2014

(I am in fourth grade. I am retelling this from my parents’ accounts.)

Teacher #1: “We’ve noticed that [My Name] hasn’t been doing well in our writing camp.”

Teacher #2: “It’s our prep camp for the state writing test.”

Mom: “So, what’s her issue?”

Teacher #1: “[My Name] hasn’t been finishing her assignments on time, and she often misbehaves when we give directions.”

Principal: “She has been to my office an alarming number of times.”

Mom: “Well, how much do they have to write?”

Teacher #2: “Not much, just a paragraph a day. We give them about thirty minutes each day, and by the end of the week, they have a full composition.”

Dad: “I see. [My Name] is a rather slow writer. Is there a possibility that she could receive extra time?”

(Upon hearing this, the staff present laughed in my parents’ faces! Luckily, I was eventually able to leave that school, go to a better one where students receive more teacher focus, and receive some psychological help. It turned out that I have high-functioning autism, which contributes, in this case, to slow penmanship and sensitivity to time pressure. My new school was able to accommodate me as needed, and now I’ll be entering high school with great test scores –including an almost perfect score in math!)

This story is part of our Writers roundup!

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Teachers Are Master Building Children’s Minds

, , , , , , | Learning | March 20, 2014

(It is the week after “The Lego Movie” has come out, and the kids have all been singing “Everything is Awesome,” a song from the soundtrack, off and on. A new little girl comes for her first day and joins right in.)

Teacher’s Assistant: “Man, it’s spreading.”

Me: “Yeah, it’s catchy. I had it stuck in my head for hours after leaving the theater.”

Teacher’s Assistant: “What?”

Me: “From The Lego Movie? It plays over the credits.”

Teacher’s Assistant: “It’s from a movie?!”

Me: “Well, yeah. Where did you think they all learned it?”

Teacher’s Assistant: “I just thought they were all really optimistic this week!”

This story is part of our Lego roundup!

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Teachers Are Problem Solvers

, , | Learning | December 27, 2013

(I have third-grade twins: a boy and a girl. My daughter has always been a straight-A student, but year after year we struggle with my son. We dread parent/teacher conferences because they’re almost always negative. My wife and I are sitting down with his third-grade teacher for the first time.)

Teacher: “Well, where to start with [Son]…”

Wife: “Yes. We’ve heard a lot of things from his teachers in the past, so just tell us what you think is important.”

Teacher: “Oh, yes. Okay. For starters, I wish I had a class full of students just like him!”

(We pause, stunned.)

Me: “Are you sure you’re talking about [Son]? We’ve had teacher after teacher complain every year.”

Teacher: “But why? We struggle so much to get students to participate and ask questions in class. Your son asks more questions than anyone else in class, and he participates in every lesson enthusiastically.”

Wife: “We get told every year that he acts up and disrupts class. He’s constantly getting in trouble.”

Teacher: “I don’t know what his previous teachers are talking about. If I had more students like him, the class would teach itself.”

(We thank her and any other teacher that finds ways to take “problem students” and turn them into a blessing!)

This story is part of our Parent-Teacher-Conference Roundup!

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