So I'm no expert on parent-teacher conferences. This was my first. But since I couldn't sleep at all last night due to my weekly pre-appointment freakout, I had some time to think about it and pinpoint exactly what bothered me...
I have never seen my son so humiliated in all five plus years of his life.
The notice said to bring our child with us. So we did. Immediately upon arriving in the classroom, the dog and pony show began. The teacher trotted out laminated cards with little tests of skill on them...I know how to count to ten...I know how to spell my name...I sit quietly and listen in class...[insert sound of tires screeching to a halt right here]...
"Sam has been making some poor choices in who to imitate in class. I have one little boy who has behavioral issues and, unfortunately, Sam is following his lead and imitating his behaviors. I would like it if you could work with him at home on making better choices regarding who to imitate."
Poor choices? Behavioral issues? Who to imitate? What the...?!?!
Sam knew exactly what she was talking about. After the conference, when asked who he was imitating who was misbehaving, he offered up a name without a moment of hesitation. I don't doubt this is happening. In fact, I've been surprised that I haven't heard anything like this up until this point. My son tends to go for the laugh...the joke...the way to make everyone laugh. He is in his heart of hearts a class clown (he gets that from both his parents...neither of whom can stand for awkward silence in any conversation). Sam does it for the attention...because it is a way to get everyone to like him. And yes, I'm sure part of it has to do with our family's story...it is a way for everyone to smile and feel better when we all otherwise feel like crap. And yes, I'm sure part of it has to do with the much-anticipated arrival of Baby Myles. Truth be told, I have lived each day with the expectation that some sort of notice would be coming home eventually...but none never did (though now I am wondering if the whole wait-in-the-gym thing wasn't more about SAM'S behavior than mine).
But I have to ask...where the HELL has this teacher been? What happened to the system, very clearly spelled out in the orientation materials, that would keep us informed as things progressed...so we could intervene as necessary as his PARENTS?
I froze and couldn't speak...couldn't ask the questions that were racing through my mind.
Thankfully, my husband had a better head on his shoulders at the moment and asked, "Is there something we should have been getting from you to indicate that this was a problem?"
Her response? She has 45 "of them" and she just can't "do that for every student." Besides, she "didn't think it was such a problem" that it needed addressed immediately.
So her goal was to ignore it as long as possible...bring my unsuspecting son to parent-teacher conferences...ambush him by sharing this information with us in his presence...and humiliate him into compliance.
I wanted to cry. Actually, I want to cry now, remembering his little face with all the embarrassment and confusion so clearly written there. She didn't even TRY to balance it with kudos. She asked HIM what HE thought he did well...she didn't offer positive reinforcement of her own volition. I am...what is the word?...horrified.
I don't mind working with my son on the things he needs to improve upon. As I told the teacher, we have recently had behavioral issues at daycare and have had to address them by instituting a system of rewards and punishments (a system that really works IF you know there is a problem). I KNOW that this is an area where he needs work. But this method of presentation seriously broke my heart. His beloved teacher...who he trusted...did it this way deliberately...because it was convenient for HER. Can there be ANY valid reason for doing this to him?
Further...better choices on who to imitate?!?! I don't want my son imitating anyone! I want him to grow and learn and be himself. Yes, I want him to learn basic manners and appropriate classroom behavior...but I don't want him to get there by pretending to be someone else! My son is unique and special and I will NOT stand for ANYONE telling him that's not enough...that he should imitate another.
I am at a loss. Well and truly at a loss.