We had a parent-teacher meeting recently and it was an interesting experience for a number of reasons. One strange thing is that not just the regular classroom teachers were available, but so were all the support staff and the enrichment teachers. We had a few minutes to kill and we were curious about how David is doing in gym, so we dropped in to meet the gym teacher. The class is rather large and we're not sure if he really knows what's going on with David in class, but it was amazing to hear him speak about his curriculum, goals, pedagogy, etc. Who ever heard of a "professional" gym teacher? I'm used to some guy with no prospects for a better job sitting on a chair as he watches the kids in what is essentially a glorified and extended recess.*
We passed by the music room and there was actually a line of parents waiting to meet the teacher. We overheard him say to one pair of parents that a three (out of four) is a very good grade and they shouldn't be so concerned. Is there something wrong with us that we didn't care to go in and find out why David likewise only got a three? In any case, as with gym, we already know from other experiences that David's school take music class very seriously. It's not just about a guy with a keyboard singing some songs with the kids.
So the main thing that I thought was so interesting is that whereas what in other schools might be considered simply enrichment programming is in David's school taken very seriously. Moreover, whereas in other schools enrichment subjects might be considered extacurricular and treated less than seriously, in David's school they are integrated into the general curriculum in order to complement and reinforce various aspects of it.
Also, in David's old school there were two mid-year report cards, each of which was followed by a parent-teacher meeting, and then an end-of-the-year report card. David's new school has altogether four report cards, and all of them, even the end-of-year report card, is followed by a parent-teacher meeting. I have a feeling that over time we might come to feel that all these meetings are a burden, but while I've never heard of a year-end parent-teacher meeting, I think it does make a lot of sense.
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To follow up on my previous post, one thing that we weren't happy about is the lack of a school library. When we inquired about this we were directed to websites where kids can read books online. No way Jose. Just to reiterate what I discussed in the previous post, I think it's intellectually healthy for kids to read specifically from printed books rather than from a screen. (Just to note, the school does otherwise take reading very seriously.)
* On the other hand, I do think kids need and deserve time throughout the day to let loose and go wild in an unstructured setting and I wonder if such a formalized phys ed period is the best thing. However, because David's classroom is not a traditional one with the kids sitting at their desks all day, perhaps there is not the same need to let them let loose.