Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sometimes, Public School Doesn't Suck

Historically, I haven't been the biggest fan of public school. Those of you that have been reading for any length of time know that. Here in the South particularly, I have concerns about how well my children's needs are being adressed and in what way.

I'm still not over the whole Kathy Cox textbook debacle. Seriously. I saw her on a television program not long ago, and I wanted to punch her in the mouth. It wasn't so much the proposal...I've lived here long enough that I expect that kind of crap. What was really disconcerting was the fact that she had a lot of support.

It worries the hell out of me that my children are being educated in a state where something like this is not instantly laughed right out of existence.

But I digress.

I've also been concerned about the public classroom model, and it's ability to teach children who are anything but average, conventional, typical. I've worried that my kinesthetic learners are becoming increasingly apathetic because they are not motivated, inspired or challenged.

I've been disgusted beyond belief by the standardized testing that has become the cornerstone of educational bar setting, as well as the fact that our kids are being taught to take tests, instead of being taught to discover and experience knowledge for it's own sake.

Time and time again, I've considered homeschooling my boys. I don't think they will ever excel academically under the current manifestation of classroom standards. My kids are off the charts smart. But because of their respective disabilities, on paper, they are just one more number; neither outstanding nor unique.

But I lack the patience. I know this about myself. And I've had to admit that trying to homeschool my children would be an unmitigated disaster.

So we struggle along, putting out fires when we can.

Unfortunately, Pubescent One is not doing well this year at all.

He is in 8th grade and struggling with the whole testosterone fueled psycho sexual cocktail of awkwardness and angst. His ADD has gone into overdrive in tandem with his hormones, and for the first time, his behavior is becoming a problem as well.

We are trying to manage things, without much success. Because aside from all the issues that come with his learning disability, we have the added pleasure of A-TI-TUDE.

Those of you whose children are still young and cute and guileless...appreciate it. Because thirteen SUCKS big hairy donky balls. If my son makes it to 14, I will march myself down to the nearest Baptist church and accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior, because it will be a bona fide miracle.

Anyway.

I've been getting emails continually since school started, and Pubescent One has had to serve detention twice. The 8A team asked us to come in for a meeting. The ubiquitous "not living up to potential" meeting. Been there, done that. But of course we agreed.

Husband and I went in there ready to do bidness.

I had gotten the feeling from a couple of emails that he was being labelled unfairly as a discipline problem and that his issues weren't being given the consideration they deserve. One thing I've learned over the last 5 years, is that not every educator is willing or able to understand how profoundly ADD affects a child.

One teacher in particular, I felt, was being rigid and nitpicky and looking for reasons to mark his behavior card. There was a "tone" in her emails that I didn't like.

So I expected a lot of finger pointing and accusation.

I have to confess that I felt a little intimidated when we entered the classroom and saw all of them sitting there in a circle. I did not do well in school myself, and I had flashbacks to my own struggles with teachers and administrators. I felt my throat grow dry and my palms grow wet.

I was, quite frankly, surprised to find that my fears were completely unfounded.

The entire team of 6 teachers seemed genuinely interested in and concerned for his success and wellbeing. They acknowledged his disability and expressed willingness to make concessions where necessary, if it was within their power to do so.

They also recommended him for a new program called "AVID" (Advancement Via Individual Determination).

"The AVID program is a support program designed to boost secondary students in the academic middle towards a higher level of college preparation. AVID aims to shift the student’s mindset from a “path of least resistance” to an approach focused on personal achievement demonstrated by successful participation in honors and advanced placement courses by graduation.

AVID places selected students in an elective class with direct instruction in critical thinking, writing to learn, college awareness, and academic collaboration. Students receive support from their AVID tutors and teacher so that there are “no excuses” for poor academic achievement. AVID students are challenged to raise their effort levels significantly in order to reach their personal goals for academic success. The AVID elective teacher and site team are provided annual professional development to that end.

In the process of implementing an AVID program, schools are challenged to rethink preconceptions of student ability. An AVID school becomes “AVIDized” when the belief systems of its teachers are transformed so that they recognize and capitalize on the capacity of all students to become critical thinkers and academic achievers. Thus the AVID program impacts not only selected students but the whole school culture."


This program is designed to help kids just like my son, who are very bright, but struggle in a conventional learning environment. They provide one on one support and direction, as well as peer interaction and group exercises to teach organizational and study skills.

This is the kind of thing he has really needed all along. Though he is amazingly smart, he has trouble breaking down tasks into manageable pieces. He is easily overwhelmed, which demoralizes him and causes him to shut down, give up, or both.

The 8th grade advisor, who is also the AVID program administrator, was very excited about the potential for him to excel within the program.

Husband and I expected to leave the meeting feeling disheartened, confused, and helpless. Instead, we felt positive and empowered.

You have no idea what a refreshing change that is.

Maybe these are the winds of change blowing. Maybe. If not, at least it's a small swirling eddy of hope for kids like mine.

21 Comments:

  • At 3:28 PM, Blogger mrinz said…

    I am very pleased to hear that the school has decided to accommodate your son and that they are finally beginning to recognise his learning needs.

    It can be an uphill battle for parents but with the school on board as well, things are looking up!

    I have been involved at a younger level with Special Needs - was the co-ordinater at our school for several years. Sometimes it is so frustrating from the teachers angle also as there is never enough funding/time/interest to implement new programmes.

    I wish you all every success!

     
  • At 3:39 PM, Blogger jen said…

    ok, first - the title of this post made me laugh out loud. second, i am glad they are moving in the right direction help wise, and third, damn, BA - i've been picturing you as a blonde all this time.

     
  • At 3:44 PM, Blogger Crazed Mom said…

    Our school district has implemented a similar program here. Sadly, too late to help either of my sons. While they are not ADD there have been some issues that this program could have helped us with. Esp my now 17yo when he was in 8th grade.

    I'm glad it's in place for your child.

    13 is nothing. Wait till 16. ;P

    JaniceNW

     
  • At 3:52 PM, Blogger the only daughter said…

    I'm pleased to hear that there is movement toward the possibility of 'getting it right' for a change. I'll keep a good thought that the program does what is proposed and designed to do. I hope your son flourishes to his full glory.


    Yay for a swirling eddy!

     
  • At 3:59 PM, Anonymous OmegaMom said…

    Sounds good. The important thing is to keep track, make sure PO is coming home excited rather than discouraged, etc. I'll be interested to hear how it goes!

     
  • At 8:04 PM, Blogger Bea said…

    That's great news. And I don't know what this says about me but this line?

    If my son makes it to 14, I will march myself down to the nearest Baptist church and accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior

    Made me laugh and laugh.

     
  • At 6:49 AM, Blogger womaninawindow said…

    Wow, wow, wow. Maybe the donkey balls can be left by the wayside for a time, anyway. Great news and so positive for a mom like me with a girl like mine.

     
  • At 7:04 AM, Blogger Avalon said…

    That program sounds great! One word of caution, however. Before surrendering PO to AVID, make sure that this is a program designed to follow him through his high school career. With my Princess, we were so excited when they finally developed a similar program in her middle school. The only problem-----it was ONLY in the middle school. It was sadly frustrating for her to get her hopes up, thoroughly enjoy the new program and then have to give it up and go back to the "mainstream" a year later.

     
  • At 7:27 AM, Blogger Jen said…

    I, too, have walked into those meetings with that feeling of doom and despair. My pre-conceived notions are usually correct. What a nice change for once!

    The AVID program sounds fabulous. I hope it all works out.

    As far as A-T-T-I-T-U-D-E goes, we are just starting to get our first taste of it in this house and let me tell you, it's a horrible, bitter taste that just makes you want to spit. Nails, I mean.

    I have often said that if my kids could go from age 12 and skip right to 22 I would have lots more kids! Teenagers scare me.

    Much luck to you and your family through these years.

     
  • At 9:59 AM, Blogger Amy Y said…

    Oh, Mama, that sounds perfect for him. I hope it's everything that it sounds like it will be, and more. Good for you guys!! Keep us posted on how he does...

     
  • At 12:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    four of my children, Josh, Alex, Kyle and Kirstie, particiapted in AVID. Joshua was just accepted at San Jose State to finish his degree in Criminal Justice. Alex and Kyle are at San Diego State studying Engineering and Kirstie just started at Virgian State this Fall. You know some of my children's history. They are doing really well. AVID played a huge part. It will for your son too.


    Louise.

     
  • At 3:20 PM, Blogger Blog Antagonist said…

    Louise,

    That's truly wonderful to hear. Thanks for sharing that. It is enouraging to hear that other children have had success within the program. You must be very proud of your kids!

     
  • At 4:52 PM, Blogger Lisa said…

    Oh my dear, I wish you much luck with the whole teenage years. Wow, a positive hope of change in the public school system, it has to be a miracle. Let's just hope for once they actually continue on a positive note. I for one thank my lucky stars every day that my kids are FINALLY out of that hell, and beyond all miracles have managed to survive somehow. Trust me, the school is not to thank for this miracle. I'd like to tell you the attitude will improve soon, ya, sorry........

     
  • At 7:00 PM, Blogger Baroness von Bloggenschtern said…

    Isn't it doubly sweet when you go in armed for bear, and it all goes giddyly the opposite way?

    Both my sons, with their various "eccentricities" made it through public school quite successfully (with a slight interruption of 4 years in private school for #1).

    Surprisingly, there are a plethora of great teachers who only want a child to succeed. They just seem to be the ones with their hands the most tightly bound by asshat principals.

     
  • At 7:48 PM, Blogger Maureen @ Wisconsin Mommy said…

    I'm off to look into AVID and see if the district I work in has something similar. I am so glad it is being offered to your son.

    Hopefully it will make you feel a little better to know that I do a LOT of work with my teachers on differentiation and meeting all the learners' needs. Public schools are coming around - slowly but surely.

     
  • At 7:59 PM, Blogger crazymumma said…

    I cannot tell you how happy I am to hear this. At 13 I was a disaster. I was getting in so much trouble, drugs, sex, police. Oh god it was just terrible and awful and ugly. Thirteen, sigh, is such a hard year. He is so lucky to have parents like you, and you in turn so lucky to have a school that is willing ot embrace who he is at this point.

     
  • At 12:17 AM, Blogger margalit said…

    You know that my son is in a very similar program in his high school. They call the small learning community that he's in Southside, but it's a program that has worked WONDERS for him. One of the things I love about it is that not only do they allow subject acceleration and a lot of individualized work in very small groups, they also have psychologists that run the program, and that work with the kids individually and in groups. It's like having a social interaction group because most of the kids are ADHD+ at least one other diagnosis, are off the charts gifted, are nuts and geeky, and have a tough time socially. When my son entered this program his freshman year I was so concerned about friends because he's had such a tough time relating to other 'regular' kids. By sophomore year he had more friends that he knew what to do with, and now, senior year it's almost insane how popular he is. This would NEVER have happened within the regular school setting.

    I hope you have just as great of an experience as we have had. It's been a real lifesaver for my smart but geeky kid.

     
  • At 3:38 PM, Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said…

    I can't wait to read how this works for him! I hope this is just what he needs to excel and for you to get some peace.

     
  • At 10:36 AM, Blogger Major Bedhead said…

    That sounds like a great program and perfectly suited to your son. It's so great when the teachers are actually interested in helping kids instead of just waiting for you to come up with a solution.

    I know the feeling of facing the teachers - I always feel like I'm about to be called to the principal's office for a lecture every time I have to visit my daughter's classroom.

     
  • At 3:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I love how every bratty kid out there is now ADD. When I was in school, we called those kids trouble makers. We didn't make excuses for their behaviors. Some kids are just horrible; don't give them a disease and a reason to act this way. Teachers should have to deal with such unruly kids. It is sad kids are getting fed this lie that the reason they are a bad kid is because they have a disease.

     
  • At 3:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sorry, the last statement should say "teachers should not have to deal..."

     

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