I mentioned a time or six about how worried I am over my Bee-girl; she isn’t doing so well in school, you see. She’s always struggled, working hard for each victory, each lesson learned, each phonics mystery that finally clicks. Kindergarten, which seems to be the new first grade, is all about learning to read. The school promises you, practically in Sharpie, that your child will be reading by the end of the year. Bee barely made the cut-off. She wasn’t really A Reader to the point where I could hand her a picture book and have her read it from start to finish until last year. And even that was a relief, because last year she was stumbling over first-grade lessons and I needed some win to hold on to. It’s almost like the kiddo is waiting until the last possible second – and then a few more, just for good measure – and then she will finally get whatever it was that was stumping her and worrying me.
Her teacher last year listened to my concerns, and then nearly always waved them away. “Bee just learns at her own pace!” she assured me. “Ain’t nobody going to speed that girl up. She’s fine! Have faith! She gets it, just a little bit later than some of the others.” It was true, and I felt like she really understood Bee, and Bee-girl thought Ms. K. hung the moon, and Ms. K. had been teaching for 20 years, so I believed her. Bee’s grades fluctuated between near-failing and Bs, so I let my concerns about maybe holding Bee back a grade die away.
This year, we’re right back where we started. Only worse. Maybe it just feels like “worse” to Bee and I, but here we are just the same. Second grade has started with all new lessons right off the bat, like reading comprehension. Bee can read the paragraph (still something I rejoice over), but can’t answer even simple questions about it. That kind of worries me. As did the fact, obviously, that she is failing language/comp. and spelling. I knew the spelling would be atrocious – Bee can’t even spell one word some weeks. And we’re at the beginning of the year! I’ve tried every trick I know. Bee’s dad has tried every trick he knows. And poor Bee just cries and cries and cries and tells me that second grade is too hard and she’s not smart enough. Yeah, if that doesn’t break your heart….
So I did what any loving mama would do: I wrote a note to the teacher. I wrote the first note at the bottom of Bee’s progress report – the one with the failing grades highlighted. I asked the team teacher who has Bee for reading and language to please give me a call to discuss the grades or to set up a parent/teacher conference. I didn’t hear anything back after that one. I called the school and left messages, twice; I emailed at the school-appointed email address (that, admittedly, some teachers don’t use); a week and a half after the progress reports went home, I sent a detailed letter explaining why I needed to talk to her. I even put in a bit about how it broke my heart to see my daughter struggle and not knowing how to help her, thinking I could maybe guilt the teacher into calling me back.
Exactly. So, yesterday I did something I had been stressing over a bit: I told on the teacher. Oh yes I did. I didn’t go to the administration, although I suppose I already knew that was my next step. Instead, I decided to email Bee’s homeroom teacher, Ms. M. who has Bee for math and science. I explained (hopefully very delicately) my concerns about Bee and my exasperation that I haven’t been able to get in touch with her team teacher for two weeks. My child is failing two classes – I should be able to get in touch with her teacher so we can fix the problem, no? I also asked for her input on how to help Bee with her struggles and how to improve Bee’s confidence, something that is not a small part of the problem. I even apologized for pulling her into the mess. Heh.
Last night, I checked Bee’s folder and found a note from the mysteriously silent teacher apologizing and explaining that she didn’t know I was trying to get in touch with her. We’ll ignore how gobsmacked I was at that. I wrote back with dates for a possible parent/teacher conference and then I dashed off a quick email to Bee’s other teacher, thanking her for her help. Hopefully the in-person talk will give me more information about what to do next. I know the conference is just the next step on what will probably be a very long journey, but I am so glad to finally be moving again.