March 28, 2011

Is It Growing Up? Really?

I won the election this weekend. For 18 years I've been active in this group and I have wondered often if the time given and energy spent has been noticed by anyone.

The win was definitive, with my garnering 71% of the vote.

I felt appreciated. It is good...


My Mom and I had an absolute blast this weekend. I'm not sure I remember the last time I laughed that hard... well, probably the last time I got together either with Mo or my Mom. It could go either way.

My Dad bought us matching cameos to wear. They are BEAUTIFUL!


Meanwhile, I'm puzzled with Bones. Last quarter we went from his getting the lowest number in conduct in Math, accompanied by notes from his teacher, and a B for the grade, to now getting 4s and having an A in his class.

Evidently his teacher is telling him how he's really helping to accelerate the class. Bones pulled a 100% on the last quiz.


So I've been doing this parenting thing for 16 years and although I don't have it figured out, I have a pretty good handle on things. And this is pretty much it boiled down:

1) My boys aren't saints
2) My boys sometimes do really stupid things
3) Bones is a tough one to handle in particular for structured teachers like... Math teachers
4) My boys aren't saints

I'm just at a loss. Actually, on a couple fronts.

First, Bones FAILED math in 5th grade. His teacher sucked, he didn't understand it, and I thought he needed to be in Special Ed. His teacher was no help... at all... ever. Even with multiple meetings. Ever.

Second, Bones is making As and Bs in math now. He not only completely grasps the concept, I'm getting the impression he's at the top of the class. Whereas I understand math is a neurological maturity that happens... seriously... wtf? How does one go from seeming like ESE material to wondering if the kid needs to be in advanced math? How?

Third, Bones makes his math teacher, a man, bat crap crazy. I credit his teacher for Bones suddenly 'getting it'. I actually think he is a HUGE part of it and it has made me realize how badly his teacher last year SUCKED on many fronts. Last quarter I said nearly every day, 'This is the BEST math teacher you have had and may ever have. You MUST not distract the class. It is disrespectful and this teacher, above ALL teachers, does NOT deserve that..."

And now? I have Mr. A student with 4's in conduct and his teacher singing his praises?

The week before Spring break the same kid was in the dog house?

I want to email the teacher and see if this is some sort of child psychology. Tell the kid he's doing well, continuing to praise him for what you see that is good, give him goals to make an A and be the BEST student and he will live up to that expectation?

Is that what's going on?

And I'm afraid to email him to find out. Because deep in my heart, I want another wonky thing to have occurred like going from an F in Math to an A/B.

Deep in my heart I want him to have been a pain in the neck last quarter and an angel this quarter, some sort of neurlogical development.

But... see that section on my kids, my list? The first and last... My boys aren't saints.

I don't believe it for a second. I just can't bring myself to hear it... again.

Posted by Boudicca at March 28, 2011 09:31 PM

Congratulations on your win! Are you now Madame President?

Maybe the veil was lifted for Bones when someone explained in just the right way?

Our 12 year old grandson, in all advanced courses, has had a roller coaster ride the last few years. Now excellent, now on the floorboards. No reason his parents can pinpoint. Odd. Maybe it is that they are going through growing pains of different sorts...

Posted by: pam at March 29, 2011 10:18 AM

I've seen this happen before, particularly with students who are disruptive. I welcome them in my classes. I think of them as the canaries in the coal mine. Without them, I have to constantly think about whether or not the class needs a break. With them, I simply redirect the class when the canary chirps. But a lot of teachers can't take that.

I think your best teachers are the ones who do well with disruptive students. And by the way, my theory of teaching physics (and math) is that the primary human interests amount to sex, money, and murder. Students DO NOT fall asleep in my class unless they are amazingly sleep deprived.

And I expect to have a lot of spontaneous interaction with the students. Some instructors can't deal with that. I think the reason is that most people aren't so good at thinking quickly on their feet; so they don't like coming off 2nd best in repartee with students. Boring lecture is easy; I want my students to never come to class thinking that they know what's going to happen.

Posted by: Carl Brannen at March 29, 2011 12:50 PM

Congratulations on the landslide victory! I know you earned every vote and I do hope they appreciate all the work you put in for them.

Yay on your dad for the gift - that's awesome.

As for Bones and the bad teacher - as I've said before - those are the only kind of teacher my son had. The multiple meeting and no response thing - that was my entire 12 years of dragging my son through school. I know exactly how frustrating that is. I am soooo glad you've found a teacher who has been able to figure out how to work with him. No matter the reason, the fact that the teacher isn't giving up, that he's willing to put forth th extra effort - there is your saint... indeed.

Posted by: Teresa at March 29, 2011 01:09 PM

Congrats on your election and on Bones' success with math. I wish I'd had a teacher like him. I'm clueless on math.

I wish there were a way to quantify what makes Bones' new math teacher so good so we could encourage and develop such skills in other teachers, rather than our current disjointed FCAT and merit pay plans to improve schools.

Posted by: George P at March 29, 2011 06:17 PM

Yay for Bones!

I just read a study about praise. (

A kid who is praised for 'just being smart' hesitates to try later...if they don't get it right away, maybe they're not as smart as everyone tells them they are.

A kid who is praised for effort, however, continues to make an effort, even on challenges above their ability. The praise has to be genuine...we all know how kids can sense fakery.

Maybe Bones has a teacher who can praise (encourage) effectively in a specific manner (not just 'good job', but 'good job on tackling that problem. I can see how you erased it and tried again'). That way a kid raises his OWN expectations of himself.

Again...YAY for Bones! And his teacher.

Posted by: Mrs. Who at March 29, 2011 06:41 PM

I have never met Bones. But in your pictures he LOOKS like an angel! :)

Posted by: PeggyU at March 30, 2011 02:18 AM

Pam, Alas, no. I ran for Historian. It takes 6 years of serving the State before you can be President. And I don't know what's going on. I wonder if its 12 year old boy syndrome. He is ALL over the road... good days are very good. Bad days... ouch.

Carl, There needs to be more teachers like you. That's interesting your take, the Canary in a Coal Mine. That would be Bones, now that he's more grown up. Since they have block scheduling, some of his classes are 90 minutes long. That's a long time for a kid to sit... and some classes are less interactive than others.

Teresa- I'm trying to figure out how to thank this teacher.

George- I think they know what he's doing, but I'm not sure anyone is paying attention!

Mrs. Who- I'm suspecting at this point that his teacher read that article...

Posted by: Bou at March 31, 2011 04:21 PM

Mrs. Who is correct. That story is spot on.

A child that is praised for no apparent reason other than 'being' never learns self-respect because they know they do not deserve the praise. They don't know what it's called, but they know the feeling.

Whereas a child that is praised for effort knows that they are trying and being rewarded for that effort, so they naturally want to get that praise again and again.

(We just went over this is psychology class) lol

Posted by: Rave at April 2, 2011 10:02 AM