Last week, I met with Daniel’s teachers. Mainly it was a meeting with his reading resource teacher, Tracy T. Tracy and I go back a ways. Daniel was first in her reading resource class 3 years ago in 2nd grade. She was magic for him. Whether he ever knows it, she has been a pivotal person in both his and my life. She is also the only teacher that has ever had to physically intervene with Daniel. I think the fact that she did so with such concern for him and with such a no nonsense attitude is a big part of the reason that episode has never repeated itself with any other teacher. She took 2 years off to home school her own special needs student through middle school and only returned this year. To say the least, I am thrilled she is back and that Daniel is working with her during this pivotal year for him (5th grade).
Daniel has handled the beginning of school very well this year. It has been the smoothest transition into the school year we have ever had. Both Scott and I had reminded each other to be ready when the other foot fell. It has. The great thing is, so far it has been a soft thud rather than a loud stomp.
This was the first meeting I have been to in a while where I felt more encouraged than overwhelmed. These meetings are always encouraging because of who we are working with and the wonderful things they always say about Daniel. However, they are also usually very overwhelming because of the amount of work still ahead of us. The following things were discussed:
1. Daniel is learning language to describe his needs. The flip side, he is using this language to also excuse himself from working.
2. No Child Left Behind is a gigantic failure. Despite the obvious best of intentions, all it does is provide more bureaucracy, forms and hoops to jump through. The reality is that this doesn’t make a bad teacher better and only encumbers the good ones. The only thing it possibly does is create a paper trail to figure out who to blame when a child gets left behind and eventually, maybe punish that person, school, etc. Of course by that point, the child is so far behind that to catch up becomes a Herculean task. There is my soap box for today.
3. Daniel’s dyslexia is a great impediment to him. Tracy recommended the Irlan Institute Color overlay system. I contacted a local screener to see about cost, availability, etc.
4. Daniel needs to just read, and read, and read, and write and read. Practice is going to make functional in this case.
5. In order to facilitate in the reading area, I will be picking up a chapter book every week for Daniel to work on. If Daniel forgets his book (which he usually does) the consequences get too big, too fast and so we are, for the time being, detouring the “responsibility” lesson on this to focus on the reading. He will also being reading the weekly reader with me every night.
6. Last but not least, Daniel has started to grow underarm hair and sleep in on a regular basis. I really wasn’t for the roller coaster called puberty, but here we go…..
I came home to a slightly crazy house. The girls were thrown off by the change in the morning routine. I can tell it will take me a while to process everything that we talked about and watch to see how the new changes implemented will play out in practice. I am cautiously optimistic, but there is a long way to go.