So I’m going to cut to the chase and post the spoiler alert-type thingy right up front. I pretty much still hate High School. In particular, I pretty much still hate my daughter’s High School. But … I am feeling more hopeful that we might all survive with our sanity intact. I suppose I should dial that back and say I’m feeling hopeful we will survive freshman year with our sanity intact. To apply this to all four years might be too much of a reach at this point.
When last we parted, my husband and I were scheduled to meet with one of the principals regarding her biology teacher. I didn’t go into detail about what precipitated this meeting, because my last post on this was already long. But here’s the skinny … which, hopefully, I can keep fairly brief. This is not always my strong point. You guys know this about me.
My daughter had to participate in the school science fair. She is not normally gung-ho about things like this. If left on her own, she would have chosen not to participate, but it was a requirement for her biology class. She had trouble finding an experiment, because her teacher didn’t approve anything she brought to him. She went through several rounds of meeting with him to discuss experiments before she finally found one he would approve. He gave her no guidance on what he wanted out of her project, or of what he would approve. Each time she met with him, she was basically shooting in the dark. He’s a moody person, and a lot of this seems to depend on his mood at the particular time a student comes to see him.
To register for the fair, my daughter had to fill out a crap-ton of information on this form/database program called Scienteer. She didn’t have a choice as to whether she would use this or not. Everyone has to use this, school-wide. It’s probably county-wide, too. This program is NOT user friendly. My daughter struggled with it during Winter Break. She wasn’t able to get registered, and she told her biology teacher about this when she went back to class after break ended. This was about two weeks before the final registration was due.
Skip forward to a couple of Fridays ago, January 19. This was the last day for kids to register for the fair. Through a string of mishaps and mistakes and miscommunications, my daughter wasn’t registered. Her teacher had told her to put another teacher down as the sponsor of her project, so my daughter ended up falling through the cracks. She didn’t show up on her bio teacher’s list of kids. And the teacher she put as her sponsor didn’t recognize her as one of his students. With good reason, as she isn’t. This is what my husband was there to meet with the bio teacher about on Friday. Because we needed to figure out this program and get our daughter registered. But the bio teacher wasn’t there.
In the end, we got everything figured out, thanks to one of the teachers running the science fair. But it was a mess all the way through. We continued to have problems with the program. The science fair sponsor put herself as my daughter’s experiment sponsor. And she, literally, stayed by her computer and hung in with us ALL NIGHT LONG on Friday. We finally got my daughter’s registration finished at midnight. The biology teacher, of course, was not there for any of this.
My daughter ended up winning Honorable Mention with her project. This was awesome and exciting. She is eligible to go on to the Regional Science Fair, but we aren’t sure yet if there will be a spot for her.
Okay … on to the meeting from last week. My husband and I show up at school. My daughter meets us at the front door. We really didn’t know what to expect from the meeting. It turned out the principal wanted our daughter in the meeting, and she wanted the biology teacher, too. I was a little thrown by this, but only because I wasn’t expecting it. Overall, it wasn’t a bad thing.
The meeting was … frustrating. Most of what has happened between my daughter and the biology teacher is “he said – she said”. For example, there were two times when the teacher was supposed to meet with my daughter, and he managed to wriggle out of responsibility for both of those. He said he never told my daughter to put a different teacher down as her science fair sponsor. He said he wouldn’t have been able to help us with the registration process, anyhow, so none of that was his fault, either. This conveniently glosses over the fact that he never tried to help her, but whatever. He blamed my daughter for the string of miscommunications that led to her having to struggle through the science fair registration at, literally, the eleventh hour. He flat-out said she never told him she had registration problems at all, which I know isn’t true. I know she told him. But how can I prove it? I can’t.
Needless to say, the biology teacher, had answers for everything. Nothing was his fault. He kept pointing out reasons why all the things that happened were my daughter’s fault. But then, when I called him on it, he said he wasn’t putting the blame on her. So … you get the idea of how it went, right? It was back and forth like that: us bringing up different points, the bio teacher denying them or putting the fault off on our daughter. And he kept wanting to tell us what a great teacher he is, how long he’s been teaching, how much he loves teaching, and so on.
I was a little hostile. I’m not proud of that, but it is what it is. His attitude made me angry. And trying to converse with someone who constantly talks in circles and only wants to tell you how fabulous they are frustrates the hell out of me. I finally cut him off and told him I was sure he was a terrific teacher for some of his students. But that I didn’t feel he was a good teacher for my daughter. Because he was too erratic, because his instructions were too unclear, and because my daughter never knew what to expect in his class. It’s too stressful for her, and it makes her migraines worse.
In the end, once the principal dismissed the biology teacher from the meeting, she told us she had already talked to him about the main issues we raised. She had some of the email correspondence, and she was able to see some of our problems, just from that. She said they were already taking steps to make sure there were no more missed meetings. And she told us she believed that our daughter had gone to the teacher about her log-in problems with the science fair software. All of this makes me feel hopeful. We didn’t make as much progress as I would have liked, but at least we found someone who listened. And who believed our daughter. And who also saw there are problems with this teacher. The principal said we could switch our daughter to another class.
But, we only get one class switch. ONE — for the whole four years of high school. What if we end up with a teacher who is truly psycho, and we’ve used up our switch on this biology teacher who, while admittedly not a great teacher, is at least mostly sane? My daughter decided to stay in the class. She didn’t want to waste her one switch on this guy. My husband and I supported her choice. But we both told her to be more careful about documenting important conversations. In the event we have to go to the principal again, we want some kind of email chain in our favor, at the very least.
While we were there, I expressed my overall disappointment in my daughter’s school. And I complained about her other jerk teachers, too. Not that I really expect it to do much good. But it felt great to get it all out of my system. I guess that has to count for something.