Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Parent Teacher Conferences

Parents packed into the Fine Arts Center at Pflugerville High School. Alyssa quickly found friends and our 3 families sat together. Because she didn't have credits to transfer, she would have to start as a Freshman. She would be taking some CBE's (Credit By Exam), add that to her summer school classes, and she'd have enough credits to start Junior Year with her age group.

So for now, she's kind of in No Man's Land. She refers to herself as a Sophomore with credits that didn't transfer.

Back to the Fine Arts Center... we are introduced to all the Counselors. One is assigned to each grade. And there are actually 5 principals: one for each grade level and one overall. I've already met both of Alyssa's.

The bell rings and everyone goes to their 1st Period class. We'll stay in each room for about 15 minutes. The teacher will give a little explanation about the class and we'll have the opportunity to ask questions.

There are a couple things I've noticed:
  • Only about 20% of the parents show up. Only half of them bring their kids.
  • Alyssa has "befriended" all of her teachers. They all gush about her. 
  • White people are definitely the minority.
  • Her classes are spread all over the place - I won't be surprised if she ends up tardy to some!
Each of the teachers made an extra effort to pull me aside. They wanted to tell me what a pleasure it was to have Alyssa in their class. They said she asks questions, is interested in what the teacher is saying, offers to help her classmates. They say all of this as if this is a rarity. None of them know that this is the first time she's set foot in a classroom, let alone a High School. And it's ironic to me that my little homeschooler's SOCIAL SKILLS are what all these teachers are commenting on.  But it is really no surprise. She has interacted with adults all her life. She has no reason to fear them or expect them to act badly toward her. She deals with them like she deals with her peers - as human beings.

Not so common, I guess.
They like her. Of course. ;-)

Academically, they think she's doing fine. Her English teacher apologized to her and to me, saying that she wished she could be in a better classroom situation. Her English class has a discipline problem, to say the least.  Her P.E. Coach pulled me aside and asked if she'd be trying out for Drill Team. She wishes there was room to move her into her 2nd period Pre-Drill Team class, but alas, it's overcrowded as it is.  She thinks Alyssa would be GREAT on the Lady Panthers!  And of all of them, her favorite teacher is her Algebra teacher. For some reason, that strikes me as funny.

It's going to be an interesting year...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Disadvantages

Alyssa's choice to go to school has brought about a new set of questions and quandries.
She comes in with a slight disadvantage. She never really developed any study skills. For instance, she was sick and needed to go to the doctor. She decided to bring her homework along and do it in the waiting room. She wanted to go to a friend's volleyball game and be online to talk to friends when she got home, so it seemed like a good idea. She even continued to do the work -basically filling in the blanks from the history chapters - as she sat on the examination table. At one point, she burst into tears - tired and completely overwhelmed. I've already told her that her grades don't really matter to me. But she wants to do well. And she really doesn't want me to tell her that she'll have to study to do well.
So,she completed the work but didn't really read the chapters. And so when the test rolled around, she considered that she *had* studied. She recognized the words, but she didn't KNOW them....as evidenced by the 49 she got on the test.

This has a huge impact on her self esteem. She starts talking about not being ABLE to do this work. But the truth is simply that she doesn't have any study skills.

So, currently, the plan:
  • Study 2 hours per night - no texting, no computer, no T.V. during this time
  • Bring Algebra home every day. Review the work, even if it's completed in class
  • Read the History chapters that go with the vocab/homework
  • Work on Geography for Test
  • When we get the English, study it as well
This is a VERY foreign-looking life for us. And if her self-esteem wasn't so tied into her test results, we'd opt for something way more relaxed. But for now, this is where we're heading.