by Darlene Vanaaco
Today we had a math meeting at DAUGHTER's school.
It was not the first math meeting we have had.
I am pretty sure it will not be the last.
The meeting lasted an hour and fifteen minutes, which is a long time in school—land of 40-minute periods. We sat in one of the most fancy rooms in the school, with a real conference table and everything. If you have children in public school or better yet WORK in one, you know what I am talking about. Pretty much all the furniture is from the last millennium and cobbled together in a mis-matched duct tape sort of fashion. But today we are in THE FANCY room.
I say out loud, “Ohhh! Nice room!”
Everyone who is in FANCY ROOM is there to help support daughter: The math teacher, the assistant principal and the guidance counselor. Plus DAUGHTER. Who looks less than thrilled to be there, even in the fancy room.
We are talking about how to modify.
To support success.
I cannot say what I need to say here without prefacing: We are all doing the best we can.
HOWEVER. I tire of these meetings. The kind where you take a student with learning differences, who is already struggling in one of their weakest areas and you just throw more remediation at them, hoping it will stick.
And it does not stick, this throwing of more and more math at someone who is already drowning in numbers and tutoring. And it is not working. No, it is not. And STILL the whole institution is so entrenched, it is seemingly impossible to make a relevant directional shift that will make a damn of difference.
So more remediation disguised as TEACHER AVAILABILITY is thrown on the table. And the student is left with no time or energy for subjects and activities they really enjoy and may have some inclination towards.
WHY do we do this? Force students learn high-level content in areas they not only struggle in, but actually hate? And will never ever, ever never choose to work in or continue.
Why in HIGH SCHOOL are we stealing precious BUILDING DREAM time with this generalist command to master EVERYTHING?
Why are we not strengthening strengths?
I do not have the answer reader. At least not one that will fit inside this blog. And so we meet. And we try to come up with new strategies. And there are tears. And feelings of not being “good” at school.
And inside my mama heart breaks into a thousand little pieces.
And my teacher head spins around in disgust at the GRIDLOCK educating the masses has become.
This is not just about one daughter in one school struggling in one subject.
This is about all of our children. Every single one who deserves to have their dreams nurtured. Who deserves the opportunity to strengthen their strengths.
And who deserves the chance to remember just how precious and brilliant they are.
When it matters most.
Right fucking now.