Life changing decisions already? Part 1

Since Marc started school, we have been absolutely amazed by his ability to learn but aren't all parents. He had an excellent kindergarten teacher who had him reading in the first couple months of school. We hadn't pushed Marc at home. He went to kindergarten knowing the alphabet, letter sounds, and how to spell abut 10 words. Math was his real strength though. He was like a human calculator. Show him how to do something once, and he's got it. His teacher looped the class so Marc got another year with this outstanding educator. By January, the teacher was suggesting we have Marc skip 2nd grade. He let us know that Marc was well beyond the other students and that he had already taught him most of the first and second grade curriculums. He said he was having trouble keeping ahead of Marc with assignments.

At first we were unsure how to handle the request. We didn't really want our little boy growing up a year quicker and we didn't we want to do what's best for him. We did a lot of reading and found that acceleration does seem to be the best option for Marc. The teacher did more testing and confirmed that Marc is highly capable.

Unfortunately, we hit a great deal of resistance from the principal. The principal is one of those people who won't take a risk. He wants 100% assurance before he makes a change like this. He felt the testing the teacher gave was invalid because it could be coached. We got in contact with the county GT supervisor and a reading and math assessment were given. The reading assessment was subjective and showed Marc was reading independently at a 4th grade reading level. The math test they gave was the end of the year assessment for 3rd grade. It had a good deal of vocabulary Marc was unfamiliar with and a few concepts he had never seen. He scored a 16/26 on the assessment so the principal determined this showed he was not ready for 3rd grade. Now Marc is the kind of kid who could have aced that test if they'd shown him one time how to do each problem one time. The test wasn't an ability test, it was more of a final exam on content he hadn't seen.

Because of my new job, Marc will go to a new school next year. If this transition is to occur, we feel it would be in his best interest to happen now. That way he will skip a grade and start a new school all at once. He won't get as much attention for skipping and won't have to make new friends with the possibility of having to move up later in the year.

The GT supervisor understood our concerns, but without data and with the principal against it, his hands were tied. He suggested we get private educational/ ability testing which we did.

Now there is a great abundance of money and assistance for children in this country for special education services. They receive testing, individual education plans, special teachers, a greater ratio of teacher to student time, and funding for many programs and materials. Unfortunately, there is very very little for gifted students. If our child had a disability, the law would require educational tests be given at no cost to the parents, however, since his special needs are at the opposite end of the spectrum, he has no right to anything. Since our child's special needs are that's he's more capable than average, we have to pay $1200 for the testing he needs. Both situations involve kids who will not receive their appropriate and least restrictive education in a regular classroom. I in no way mean this to diminish the importance of special education, I am simply showing that there is a great discrepancy. I do however see a big problem as a society if we continue to devote so little of our educational resources to our students with the most potential.

So Marc was scheduled for educational testing. We were to meet with the Dr. once, then Marc was to meet with him for an interview. Following that Marc would have two sessions of testing. Finally we would get the results. We could then use this information to make a better choice about Marc's education and possibly use the results as ammunition if they showed what so many had already implied.

Long overdue

I haven't posted recently, mostly because I really didn't have anything to say, but when has that ever stopped me from shooting off my mouth before. So, where to start?

I'm starting a new job in the fall. I'll now be a high school media specialist. I'm very excited and scared to death at the same time. As I may have mentioned before, my biggest fear in life if that everyone will realize I've been faking it all along and have no idea what the hell I'm doing. That's not totally true but it sure does feel that way sometimes.

I found out this job was a possibility back in October. Our school system has strange transfer process. If you are interested in a transfer you have to request it by January, even if a position is not open. If a position becomes available you get an interview. However, they can't interview until the position is available (current position holder announces retirement or resigns). This means you basically have to know a position is going to be available months before it is. Luckily for me, I happened to overhear that the current media specialist was retiring. I had really planned to wait a few year before jumping from elementary to high, but being as the school is right next to my house I had to jump on the opportunity. The kids will go to the elementary school beside the high school so logistically, the move is perfect.

I worked very hard getting my portfolio up to date, speaking to high school media specialists, and reading up to prepare for my interview. I also had the recommendation of my previous supervisor, my current supervisor, my previous principal, and my current principal.

My interview went really well and I really liked the principal there. I went in with thinking, if I get the job great, if not I'm happy where I am. I walked out thinking, man, I really want to work for him. The principal seems to put what's best for students first and trusts his staff as professionals. It seems more and more principals nowadays are only worried about making sure the school does well on high stakes tests and blindly follow, to the letter of the law, whatever mandate or program the county favors this month.

So, I waited a month or so and got a letter stating I had received the position. Wow. It's so strange thinking about going to a new school. Everything I've done in my career has been at the same elementary school. I went from being a classroom teacher to a media specialist, but I never left my building. I'm very excited at the potential the new position has. I can work with young adults and discuss real issues, I can do much more with technology, I can read and recommend young adult novels, and I can be more of a librarian than I could teaching 25 classes a week in elementary. At the same time, I have to learn how to teach, manage, and deal with the behaviors of high school students. I also have a lot more responsibility for running a larger library, spending a much larger budget, and doing a lot more cataloging than I currently do. The thought is a very overwhelming to me.

In addition, I have the added bonus of not being a the favorite coming in. When I took over at my current school, the media specialist was not well loved. My staff knew me and was very excited when I got the job, especially the tech who hated the previous media specialist (the tech is like the librarian's assistant, they do a lot of book check out, cataloging, and other mostly clerical jobs). The other person who had applied for the media specialist position at the high school was really good friends with the tech there. We've gotten along well so far but she's also let me know that she was really pushing for her friend to get the position. She felt that my previous boss had too much say in who got the position. So, although she's told me she doesn't hold it against me, it's still hard feeling like I have a strike against me before I even start.

So here I am, about to go into the complete unknown. My last experience with high school was when I went there. I'm hopeful that things will go well and I will love it. At the same time it's really hard to leave my comfort zone and go into a position where I need to do well, learn quick, and show that I'm in control of it all.