positive feedback

As you heard, I marched myself into the principal's office last week when I finally decided that conflict avoidance wasn't worth the lifelong impact having a shitty relationship with his teachers was going to have on my kid and asked for what I wanted/needed.  I had a lot to say.  Things along the lines of:
  • I'm getting the message that the school/teachers are giving up on him
  • I'm also hearing that you're unwilling/unable to support him (especially because/even though his support needs don't qualify him for any kind of special support)
Kind of big stuff, no?

I also mentioned at one point that I never hear anything positive about him.  That seems to have been the biggest take away.  Last week I ran into both of the teachers on separate occasions when we were stopping by school at the end of the day to patronize the book fair.  Both of the teachers had clearly been "talked to" and I found their reactions to this "talking to" to be very focused on the "never hear anything positive feedback."  The first said, while shrugging his shoulders "he mostly does good in my class" and then made awkward small talk for a few moments until he had to run off to a conference.  The second flagged me down from across the playground and apologized for the note that suggested parenting techniques.  He said, "that wasn't meant for you.  You can use those ideas if you want, but they aren't meant for you."  Funny, because you drew an arrow on the front of the page you sent home to me indicating that I should turn the page over and read what was on the other side... (I kept this profound statement to myself).  He them proceeded to very loudly and very enthusiastically tell my son how great of a job he had done.  That day, that week, always!  SUCH A GOOD JOB!

I noticed the notes and homework assignments are coming with lots of smiley faces and exclamation points on them and I am very aware that I have not effectively communicated my point.  I'm not getting anything that says "we are committed to supporting your child."  I'm getting a lot of reactionary "I got in trouble by my boss because of something you said so I'm going to try and prevent you from talking to her about me again by being excessively nice to you."

Not exactly what I was looking for.

First, a clarification.  "Never" was an exaggeration.  They have said positive things about him, they are just on a 1:10 ratio of positive to negative.

Second, an explanation... When I express that I want to hear positive things about my child, I don't mean that I want to hear how happy you were when he behaved the way you wanted.  I want to hear positive things about HIM, not about how he acts.  I don't place much emphasis or importance on how compliant he was for the day.  To me, his level of cooperation is a direct reflection of his emotional state.  He has unmet needs, and until they're met they are the only thing he can focus on.  I get that this isn't a particularly functional way to live, but he's not an incomplete 30 year old, he's a complete 5 year old... and this is what he's working on.
original artwork by the child in question.
it's me, and a christmas tree, and it's raining presents.
good times. :)

Here's my message to all the teachers out there (and thanks to those who already do this).  Please do not measure my child's worth by his performance in your class; on the test or in his willingness or ability to sit still.  Please do not shower us with happy faces when he made you life easy and send home red X's on the days he doesn't.  When we have a conference to talk about his progress, let's look at where he's progressed and talk about the areas where there are opportunities for development by collaborating on how we can help him develop new strength.  If you must tell me about something he does or doesn't do, tell me a story about the time he stood up for, helped out, or was generous with another child.  When I come into your classroom I see these stories happening every moment as the children interact.  Talk to me about the things that get him excited and the areas where he appears to be bored or disinterested and then tell me how we're going to infuse the boring, less interesting stuff with the stuff that excites him.  Show me that you see him, know him, and understand him.  Show me that he's more to you than a red, yellow, or green card, a pile of worksheets, and a score on a standardized test.

Or, tell me that you won't.  But not that you can't.  Because you could.  You may not have known that it was an expectation or even an option.  Now you do, and at this point if you still don't, it's because you're choosing not to.