Sunday, February 6, 2011

Teacher Parents

Even though I've only taught in one school, I've come to accept that where I teach is an amazing place. Collaboration, innovation, creativity, reflection and passion seem to come naturally to the staff. The administration knows this and supports us in every way possible. The school district seems to know what we are about and seems to trust us to do what we're doing. We strive to do the best by our children, each and every day. (If you are a regular reader, you know I have bad days, but I wouldn't do what I do if I didn't deeply care about my students.)

My son is two years old and I'm already thinking about his future kindergarten experience. I don't live near the school where I work, and I don't even live in the school district. Our neighbors attend our neighborhood public school so I am always pumping the kids for information. "What did you read today?" "What did you learn today?" "Oh you studied worms? Did you get to touch them?" I let them empty their backpacks and show me when they're bringing home. Unfortunately the answers and examples are never what I hope for. I've checked the school out online, studied the demographics and what is highlighted as achievement, and also had the opportunity to attend an evening event there. It was a specific group of students and their parents but it gave me a sense of the school.

I don't feel like going into all that I feel our neighborhood school lacks in comparison to my own, and there are certainly aspects of it that are great, but my nagging question is... what to do with my kid when it's time for kindergarten? For him to go to my own school, we would have to pay some sort of tuition since we don't pay taxes into that school system. I have no idea how much it is and keep putting off inquiring. I also don't think it's the best thing to have your child in your school let alone your own grade, but there are benefits as well.

I was talking with a colleague this weekend and she's experiencing similar feelings about her own neighborhood school. She said that I, and maybe we, are going to have hard time when our boys go to kindergarten.

Am I? All I want for my child is the same I strive to give my students.

I'm not passing judgement on the teachers in the classroom of our neighborhood school, after all, how could I? I haven't been in their room to see what they're doing.

My thoughts swirl around the environment. Do I want my child to go to school where everyone looks like him and talks like him? Where the library, despite how wealthy the neighborhood is, was shockingly sparse? Where the high school has the highest drop out rate in the state?

Do other teacher parents struggle with this?


dayle timmons said...

I struggled with the same decision. I sent my first child to our neighborhood school, which was a pretty good experience, but I took my second child with me to my school because I thought I taught at such an amazing school. I would do it again. It's not that my son didn't have a good experience, but my daughter had an exceptional experience. I had the opportunity to choose her teachers and to really understand every project she had. I saw her most days when I took my class to lunch and she played in my room before and after school. Both of my children are grown now and she says she became a teacher, because she had such positive experiences in elelmentary school. On the other hand I do know teachers who have their children with them and take advantage of the situation, so I do think you have to be careful and considerate, remembering that you have inside information and that your child's teacher is also your colleague.

splatypus said...

Thanks for your thoughts dayle. i think that's exactly what I am struggling with, good vs. exceptional. If I can provide an exceptional experience, shouldn't I?

ChiTown Girl said...

My son attended Kdg. at the school I was working at the time, because I had already worked at my neighborhood school (literally 2 blocks away) and I didn't want him to go there. (Long story) Turns out it proved to be a waste of a year. (another long story!) Thankfully, he was accepted at one of the regional gifted centers here in Chicago, so he spent his grade school years at a phenomenal school. (It was ranked #1 in the state the entire time he was there.) Now that he's in high school, I've had to really sacrifice to be able to send him to a private Catholic high school, because I would NEVER send him to the public school in our area.

All that being said, I've been working in 'the ghetto' here in Chicago for nearly my entire career. It wasn't really a viable option to have my son attend the school(s) where I was working. It sounds like you work at a wonderful school, so if that's an option for you, maybe you should consider it.

The Science Goddess said...

I am not (nor have ever been) the parent of a school age child. However, my general observations from supporting a variety of schools across the state is that classrooms in middle class (and above) neighbourhoods tend to be less engaging and have lower expectations for kids. They can because they kids already arrive well-prepared. Your son will have already been to the zoo, museums, and had a myriad of experiences they don't have to try and replicate. I'm not saying that teachers in those schools don't care about kids or that they don't work hard. I'm just not convinced that they work at the most important things.

Only your husband and you can decide what's best for your son. I've seen lots of peers struggle with these decisions. I know it isn't simple.

Plants seeds of knowledge...for our future! said...

Maybe you should take off some time and go observe at the school to make a better decision. I think having your child at the same school you work in worked better for me because it was easier to know what was going on. Easier for me to have someone step in my class so that I could watch a program or be more involved in the classroom. When your student attends another school it is sometimes hard to see plays or programs that are put on during the day, it is also hard to coordinate parent teacher conferences because schools are usually having them about the same time. For me it was better to have my kids where I teach. Now my kids are in the district and school my husband teaches at. It works better for us if one of us is at the school where our children attend. We are more aware of things going on and are able to communicate easier with our children and their teachers.
Ultimately, this is your husband and yours decision and there is still time to research and make a good decision. Good luck!

magpie said...

I know that we teach and look for improvements every year to make a difference in our world but...
I found with my son that the best teaching Kindergarten with the best teachers and up to date stuff didn't suit him and he would've enjoyed the more social free-play kindergarten close by. We moved and so I really noticed how he resented what I thought was the best.
I don't think I really asked him how he was enjoying it and blocked out some of the signs such as his constant clinging and very pleased to see me at pick-up.
He's 15 now and still brings up his 3 months of torture, lol. ☺☺☺

Anonymous said...

I am a special education teacher in a K-8 school and have two daughters in my school - in Kindergarten and 3rd grade. One I see a lot, as I spend a lot of time working with kids in her class. The other, I only see in the lunch room. It's a mixed bag. I love that I get to be with them before and after school, I love that I know their teachers well and essentially get to pick their teachers as well as some of the peers in their classes. I love that I get to attend every thing they do. I love that I know every assignment and every expectation. I am lucky that I have two very gifted, hard working and motivated children who would never do anything to upset anybody (except me!) The one drawback that I feel is that I know TOO much. I know exactly what their teachers are/are not teaching. I know what is going on socially with the kids in their class. I know every single child's test scores and it makes me anxious - my youngest daughter happens to score higher on standardized tests than the highest first grader and I worry every day that our very appropriately play based kindergarten isn't giving her everything she needs? Or is it everything I want?
Sometimes we talk about separating me from the kids...but the logistics seem complicated. Would that mean before and after school care? Would I miss out on a lot of things? Oh, it's a hard decision, but if you love the school you are in enough that you think it's the perfect place for your child, I say go for it.