So as mentioned earlier this is a Parent-Teacher Conference where the child is involved, and it’s our first time…
Kings cancelled a meeting to make this conference – fortunately, because that we could see there were a lot more families with work-garbed dads also present. I always find this very different from what I remember of my own schooling because it was a lot more normal (and I went to a good school) for dads to be rarely present… Unless that is, there was a problem haha)
My pictures btw will not do this justice, there were actually 3 stations with 3 kids and their parents alternating between each section, complete with timer, where the kids then illustrate some of the educational games they play, some of their craft, and then a third station with the teacher present where the child shows us their schoolwork, book-marked with pre-discussed areas of work that can be improved as well as areas they have done well in/ are proud of.
I didn’t feel I could happily go round taking pics of everything, bookmarked or no, in the various diary/essay writing/math areas, while we were having the actual discussion, so I ended up only taking pics of the station where he illustrates some of the numbers board games plus computer work (on a previous occasion I actually saw some of his classmates playing similar – they can get scarily good and then “to make it more exciting” they would ask to say, add dice or a few more conditions to the game…) Also, I was filming some of his descriptions with the dad present, so he could re-watch them on my phone, and already felt a bit weird doing so, as there were two other families there and I think I was the only one with my phone out <sheepish>
There’s usually a whole long row of computers against the wall, and Kings would comment in surprise because Rockstar doesn’t use a mouse at home, my iMac is on touchpad (which I think is harder to use btw – it still drives me nuts sometimes when it gets stuck)… I once wanted to get Rockstar a mouse when I realize they use them in school, but uh…… never got round to it
…..Traditionally we have always been very reliant on teacher feedback so as to know how Rockstar is doing, because he……… hasn’t been known to give us a very accurate picture. Not what you think. Back in Kindy we occasionally had a period of, “My friends are all smart. They can do this, they can do that… Everyone is sooooo smart...”
Um, ok, and what about you, are you doing ok?
“I’m…. o-kayyy…..” <non-committal shrug>
What’s that supposed to mean? Everyone else is sooooo smart then you leh?
<grins from ear to ear>
“If I’m naughty, will you still love me?” (I suppose he really means “if I’m not smart”)
Rockstar has always been very defiant if he thinks we are pushing him (will deliberately tell the dad he “was sleeping” in Chinese tuition because he has identified the dad is the one more concerned about his Chinese). Such an irony that yours truly, the child hungry for approval (and therefore easily pushed to perform), would grow into a parent who has a child bent on making any would-be Tiger Parent vomit blood. Was it the hormones when I was carrying him, or what?
Since however Rockstar does take pride in a good challenge, all I can come up with is the West Wing analogy of the smart-mouthed intern who strolls in to work every morning like he’s all late and doesn’t care, but in reality isn’t actually late. (I hope, ok…!! Honestly this game playing, if that’s what it is, makes me infinitely nervous because I remember the Putonghua, baby pre-school and swimming classes he did tank, when rubbed the wrong way. That’s just a lot more work for me while I also have the baby to take care of.)
Case in point: I took the hurried pic below earlier, and in the blurry enlargement on my phone, I couldn’t see which one had Rockstar’s name on it. I took a guess, and then asked Rockstar for confirmation. Instead, he insisted his art piece was not here.
So…. none are his? He said no. Isn’t everyone’s pic up there? <shrugs>. I was suspicious.
On conference day, I determinedly went down this wall and found his piece with his name on it. In fact I guessed right the first time. I had asked him several times and he insisted that wasn’t his. Rockstar’s response?
“What ‘oh’? That really was yours!! WHY did you say your artwork is not on the wall??”
“I forgot which was mine.”
“Are you telling me you have absolutely NO RECOLLECTION of doing that??” <pointing at picture>
I don’t believe. I can recognize it – so obviously he did do that. Besides, he can remember the most ridiculous places he puts tiny Lego components just because that’s where he wants to put them, he can unlock my iMac and chant my ATM pin in Starbucks, he has totally no memory of doing that huge piece of artwork they look at, day in and day out when they store their bags in their lockers?!
“Oh… Yeah, yeah. I remember I mixed the colors to make the lighter purple there…… Y-eah.”
No, I don’t know why he does that. My girlfriend and I have a half-baked theory that part of the reason is so I stay more involved with his schoolwork (to his mind), but really don’t know for sure… Or else he really forgot?
(On an aside, I’ve thought these pictures were so cool for some time. I think it was in their learning unit about who they are in place and time, and they were introduced to self portraits with the one below by German/Swiss artist Paul Klee as an example; noticed them identifying interesting aspects of the painting during class… It reminded me of Metropolitan Museum of Art stuff I love, as well as that time in a cafe in San Francisco a very articulate little girl identified my Van Gogh’s Starry Night laptop decal (her dad would explain they play a dvd that flashes these art pieces to classical music accompaniment)..
Anyway then in some of Rockstar’s stuff later, we would also get to see activities where they decorate their own t-shirts with their pics on it, and in one the books was half of his picture, whereupon he then drew the other half in…)
So anyway we had our first-ever 3-way conference, and I must have somehow misunderstood the purpose of it, having never had one before and just having the idea stuck in my head – I thought it was like when you get a “report card” with your child present. It probably wasn’t that so much as an opportunity for your child to show you some of the things he does in school, in terms of activities and class work. To me the key feature is that your child is the one who has picked out under supervision and with discussion with his teacher, areas of work to be improved on, and areas he is particularly proud of. As opposed to simply the teacher talking to the parent, I guess.
Rockstar goes through the 45 minute exercise with us, we’re going Ok, Hmm, Interesting… You Like Ninjago How Much?! (There’s a Venn diagram of him and his buddies who like Ninjago, Star Wars, or both – now, there’s a Venn diagram to get their attention! As well as more math sums than I expected, written out and marked more “traditionally” like what we used to have during our own time…)
Rockstar also tells us his teacher gets print outs of the online math work he does on IXL.com, which I’m guessing is the teachers being able to pull the data on how much time each child has spent logged on and in the many different math-related areas… sorry, this to me is very interesting and I really, really like the efficiency of it because I used to pull deals data or trace trades for audit purposes in a similar way on both spreadsheets and in-house software so to me each child with a login and the ability to trace how long they take to accomplish tasks, how many right/wrong answers, how many times they’ve practiced etc puts a lot of information at a teacher’s fingertips very quickly about a child’s strengths and weaknesses in various math-related school tasks…
Rockstar’s showing me some notes written to him from other friends in class. I think each child eventually takes a turn as a “special person” and then classmates write things they like about their friend that makes him/her special, for a week, but it’s not yet Rockstar’s turn so I don’t know too much more about that yet… Certainly there is a lot more attention and care for each child than I had expected, knowing it’s a relatively large class size, and I find it reassuring. Even in previous Sunday School groups Rockstar would receive comments from other children about how he “(is) too little to belong here,” so I care a lot about and appreciate that they have all these activities in class…
And then our time is up. We make way for the next batch of proud children showing their parents around, and go off for a snack.
Interestingly, Rockstar is ecstatic. Now he says so, and there’s a huge skip and a bounce in his step. We’d never have known, going in to this thing, as I said earlier I thought it was like a “get your report card day,” but instead it’s more like a huge child motivator. An opportunity to let your child see you taking a huge interest in his work at school.
Rockstar declares several times that “it went well.”
This time, I totally believe him.
ps: The reason I knew which self portrait was Rockstar’s is because JD has one blue eye, her left – heterochromia is a word Rockstar has thrown about for awhile now – and he’d made the observation that the eyes in Paul Klee’s self portrait were “also” lopsided… Plus those kinda looked like his triangles because the baby has blunted-corner shapes that he’s been showing her, squares and triangles……..