Monday, May 10, 2010

Wrapping up the third grade

There are only a few more weeks of the school year left. I feel like every year ends with drama. Last year at this time, we had received the off-the-wall results of AJs OLSAT and the subsequent news that he hadn't qualified for the gifted program. We took him for WISC testing and then heard that he'd hit the test ceiling, and thus more than qualified for the program. It was a bumpy roller coaster ride, but in the end, we felt good about his next year, because FINALLY we were going to get some help from the school district through its formal gifted program. Unfortunately, thanks to drastic budget cuts, we are ending this year in worse shape than ever before. The gifted program is gone, as are art, music, P.E. and anything else that could possibly termed "enrichment." Class sizes will be increased by 8-10 students next year. It's grim.

Every year, I try to schedule an end-of-year meeting with AJ's teachers to make sure I have a good handle on what has happened over the course of the year. I ask pretty much the same questions every year. What types of curriculum modifications have been enacted? What has worked and what hasn't? What does the teacher see as AJ's biggest challenges going forward? What does she think are the most important things for his next teacher to know about him? What can we, as parents, be doing to help him and support his teacher? And this year, I also asked about how the classroom teacher had been working with the gifted coordinator. Next year, there will be no gifted coordinator, and I wanted to know in what areas the next teacher might need extra support.

While I know, at times, AJ has wished for more challenge in class, I basically think he's had a good year. And after talking to his teacher today, I can see why. She may not have clicked with him in the same way as his first grade teacher did, but she clearly gets him and enjoys working with him. Her descriptions of him rang perfectly true. She is a calm and gentle soul and has found ways to help him take responsibility for himself that have worked beautifully with him. For instance, when he kept forgetting to put his gym shoes away after gym, she started putting them in the lost and found at the end of every day. After a couple of weeks of never being able to find his shoes and having to take extra time away from gym to walk down to the office and look for his shoes, he finally started remembering to put them away in the first place. I wonder if I can figure out a way to do this at home?

She asked me in the end about the multi-grade class. One of the things that is happening is that in order to maximize class size (a financial necessity, unfortunately) there will be one class of mixed 3rd and 4th grade next year. When I filled out the form for my requests for next year, I had requested no multi-age. It's not so much that I'm against it -- I think it can work very well, in fact. But the combination of the new multi-grade with the large classes, no aides and the fact that AJ will be on the higher end of the multi-grade has made me think that it is a terrible idea. But after talking to a few other people, and after hearing that one of the gifted teachers at another school I've heard good things about is going to be the teacher for the multi-age at AJ's school, I suspect the gifted cluster will be in that class, and it's more important to me that AJ be with his peer cluster than that he be in a single grade class. How will AJ do there if that is, indeed his placement? I'm not sure. But in some respects, that's the least of our problems for next year.

So tomorrow I'm off to talk to the school principal to find out more about what will happen and to arrange a meeting with AJ's next teacher, whoever she will be, in the fall. I am trying not to feel like we're back where we started. Progress has been made. We have more evidence, more experience under our belts. But it is discouraging to be looking once again at a struggle for services.

1 comment:

FreshHell said...

I like that "lost and found" idea. That's clever. Might have to employ something similar.

Best of luck with next year. I still don't know what our school will look like. Not sure Red's teacher will be back. No idea what the state of gifted education will be. I'm hoping there won't be too much change at the elementary level (the high schools have more than one G&T teacher, I think). I hope the mixed classroom is good for AJ. All things considered.