Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Interview and An Update

The other day, Patrick's kindergarten teacher came by for a visit. Apparently, this is a new practice instituted by the principal that started at the school last year; all K teachers visit all their students, or at least try to, in a two-day blitz. There will also be a meet-the-teacher night at the school next Monday for all grades when we can see the classrooms, drop off the extensive materials on the shopping list, etc.

I'll tell you, I was Nervous. I mean, here comes this woman that we don't know into our home to, basically, check us over. I mean, I know it was presented as a way for the kids to meet their teacher before the bustle of school, but I'm thinking that it's also a way for the school to get a handle on what kind of background each kid is coming from. Is the house a mess? Do they live in a crackshack? How many teeth do all occupants have?

The meeting itself did little to sway my opinion of things. Mrs. N walked in, graciously gave us an apple for 'being his first teacher' (gag a little, actually), settled herself on the couch, and got out her clipboard. As soon as the initial 'hi, how are you' niceties were over, she got right down to business: what is the daytime routine like? Where do we all eat dinner? What do we do after dinner? When is bedtime? What did we used to do after preschool? What kinds of activities do we do? I seriously felt like I was being interviewed by social services or something (or at least what I assume that would be like), and like my ability as parent was being examined. I told the truth - sometimes we do eat in the living room and watch TV together, sometimes bedtime is later than it could be, and sometimes I glue his little hiney to a chair so I can have an afternoon cocktail (oops, wait, I only *think* about doing that one, so far). I think it went beyond what a meet-and-greet should have been, and was actually a little invasive. I mean, what does she (or the school, since it's probably the principal who came up with this list of questions) say or do when they get the answers we all know some people would probably give (every meal in front of the TV, little family interaction, constant video gaming, etc)? Do they get a little black star on their file? Are their kids on a watch list of some kind, expected to be potential failures? I suppose it's good, as an outsider to that particular problem, for children who get little attention at home to have a teacher who's aware of that issue, but still. Mrs. N did comment to me that she had heard several times from parents that they had no daily routine, and that isn't good. Hmm.

It was a friendly meeting, and it was over in about twenty minutes, but I can't say that it left me with a very warm feeling. Having a first meeting make you feel like you're being interviewed by judge and jury will do that, I suppose. I'm glad she's seemingly on top of things, and that the school is interested in the children, though.


In other news, I spoke with the animal control officer today, Mike. He was very nice, which to be honest I wasn't really expecting; typically official types are more blow-offy. He asked me what had happened, so I told him the whole story, and he was very interested in what I had to say. He actually laughed when I referred them as 'attack labs'. Apparently, the couple told him that our dogs had been loose on the property and had attacked them, shoving one of them into a utility pole! They then admitted to him that there had been no injuries to either dog or person. Since the entire definition of an 'attack' is that it results in an injury, this pretty much invalidated their entire story by itself, regardless of the fact that they weren't anywhere near the utility pole and the dogs had initially been inside the house. He said that they pretty much have to check off 'dangerous' on the complaint form they leave at a house if someone says the word 'attack', but not to worry about it, and that we can submit a letter to be included in the file. I got the feeling that this kind of thing happens a lot.

I'm a little surprised that anyone can call the animal control office and claim that they were attacked, even without proof such as injury or witnesses, since it seems like that would be a field day for a really bad neighbor looking to cause trouble, but I suppose in the grand scheme of things it's better to be able to complain than not. Before we moved up this way, our county govt wouldn't allow a complaint unless there had been a injury, meaning you had to wait until something happened before anything could be done, which was awful because there was a maltreated rottie in the yard adjacent to ours that was constantly trying to get over the broken fence in its yard to get at us. I was terrified of it, and it was finally taken away because it managed to break through the fence too many times. So, anyway, this whole thing is over, and it's apparently no big deal in the eyes of the county. I still haven't found anyone who knows who those people were. I actually found that I had entirely forgiven them, anyway. There's no point in my being upset over it, and they are obviously miserable enough in themselves, anyway. Phew. Thanks for all your support; it really did make me feel better!


AndreAnna said...

LOL @ Attack Labs!

I'd put flaming poop on their doorstep!

Swistle said...

That interview with the teacher would have just about killed me.

d e v a n said...

Glad the dog thing turned out well. Kind of weird about the teacher. I was a K teacher and I sent a nice little intro letter to each student, but would have never gone into their homes. And I would have NEVER asked those questions, unless I had a really good reason.

Kristi said...

OMG. I'm freaking out about that teacher interview. I don't think I would have been able to handle the pressure.

Anonymous said...

That teacher interview is something else. I've never heard of that. Makes you wonder what they do with all that info they are collecting.

LoriD said...

Teacher interview: weird. Here, we go in for an hour and have a chat with the teacher while the kid plays some little assessment games. The questions are more along the lines of "How does your child deal with conflict" and "Would you say your child is outgoing or shy?" I'm sure the intentions were good, but I agree that the questions you were asked are pretty invasive.

Creative Kerfuffle said...

ok,totally freaking out on the teacher interview. wtf? that is bizarre and it does sound like what i assume a social worker would ask. i really think that oversteps the bounds of school officials of any kind, regardless of the intentions. like if the kid WAS in a bad home a parent couldn't lie about that for 20 mins?
hooray for you on the dog thing though. still crazy of those people but it turned out ok.

Amber said...

I'm with Creative Kerfuffle on this one. I do NOT think that interview was ok. It's proven that pre-judgement and pre-qualified expectations affect children's education. It's one of the many hurdles poor and black students have to face daily. I'd be leary of that principal (assuming that's who's responsible for the questions).

Susiewearsthepants said...

One question. Are you allowed to pay a visit to the teacher's home and ask her invasive questions about how she conducts herself in her home? Can you ask her about her friends and the type of people she associates with in her free time. Here's a list of questions for her:
1. How many times per week do you consume alcholic beverages?
2. Have you ever contemplated phyiscally harming one of your students.
3. Do you partake of any illegal drugs?
4.Do you have a live-in boyfriend?
5. If married, how many times per week do you argue with your husband?

I mean, some of those things could affect her teaching ability couldn't they?

I would not have felt comfortable with this. Frankly, the routine you have in your house is none of her or the school's business. I'll stop here before I get into a rant about how the schools are more and more trying to tell us how to raise our children.

Astarte said...

SWTP - I love this idea!!!! I TOTALLY want to send them a questionnaire now!!! I think I also want to know when they're all on the rag, personally. I mean, I'm sure THAT affects her teaching ability.

Neugier said...

The interview with the teacher was totally inappropriate! This person IS a governtment agent and they were interviewing you.

I think school has its place. I really do! Infact I think it is usually the best option for most.
HOWEVER, there are certain questions that are NO ONES business. I am my child's parent - Thank you!!!

This will not stop if people only complain and do not STAND UP for their GOD given RIGHTS!

I would be saying homeschooling about now and at least looking into what my legal rights were and talking to other parents!

I hope you choose to do something about this!