Friday, August 19, 2011

Glad I Saw It: A Second Grader's School Journal

With the new school year starting in just a few weeks, I finally decided it was time to dig through the piles of papers from the last school year.

And I'm glad I took the time to read through the piles, instead of following my first inclination to just brush it all into the trash can in one grand sweep of the arm.

My kid's journal was eye-opening - and not because I realized I had a seven-year-old Emily Dickinson living in my home. But because it told, quite clearly, how she felt about school. And it was all news to me. Here's three entries:
Entry 1:
I hate this journal because 1. It's stupid 2. It's dumb 3. It's boring 4. I'd much rather read 5. Duh!

And her teacher's response: I'm sorry that you feel this way. I always enjoy reading what you write.

Entry 2:
Plain letters are boring. Fancy letters are awesome.

And her teacher's response: Please write with plain letters.

And last...
Entry 3:
I rock, rock, rock, and rock. I'm awesome, awesome, awesome and more awesome. I rock, and am more awesome.

And her teacher's response: Please write something more meaningful.

On a more serious note,these entries show a real lack of interest in school from my daughter, which pains me. And her teacher clearly thinks my kid is making a lousy effort, as indicated by the margin notes, which also pains me.

I wish the journal had come home during, instead of after, the school year, so I could have know my kid hates writing in her journal, thinks it's dumb, and thinks it's appropriate to write duh. 'Cause, Magpie? It's not.


I am taking any and all advice on how to start the new school year off in a more positive way, please.


Kristin said...

First of all: I love your daughter's *fancy letters* - so cool!

Second: I seriously doubt the teacher thinks she's making a lousy effort. She is responding with more than "write more" after all. Personally, I wouldn't have used "something more meaningful" but "explain how you are awesome!" or something like that. But then I could never handle elementary school without deranging the kids with sarcasm and other inappropriate responses. I know my limits. :)

These were lovely to share - and I miss my students' journals even more now!

Kristin said...

Oh! And why not have your own journal for Magpie? Something that is just between the two of you and is not open to grammar/spelling checks.

* Darn it. I think I just took another step closer to getting my NY certification moved to NJ. Oh dear. :)

Anna said...

Good advice. But I am still embarassed I am raising a child who thinks it is ok to write "duh" as a bullet point in a journal, personal or otherwise.

Kristin said...

Well, if it makes you feel any better, I used "thingamajig" in a 4th grade essay about twelve times once. Mr. Armstrong was not amused.

Anonymous said...

I personally think your daughter is sassy and hilarious! And I'm super-impressed that she knows how to spell huge words like "awesome" in only second grade!!
I DESPISED writing in my journal in 3rd grade--I wrote similar silly things in mine just because I wasn't the type to write about my feelings or the boring details of my day. And guess what, I went on to become a magazine editor and later a copyeditor of the bestselling books in this country! My point is, these forced journals are definitely no big deal and do not necessarily reflect your daughter's interest in school. They simply reflect her lack of interest in journaling, and I second that notion!

Anonymous said...

We had a similar experience - we didn't find out until the school year was over that our daughter was having behavior problems. I wish we had known earlier so that we could have addressed it. I'm so nervous about her starting first grade, I'd like to have some advice too!

skramly said...

Magpie IS sassy and hilarious. And smart enough to understand the whole concept of "sometimes we have to do assignments we don't like." Maybe she'd enjoy working with you on schoolwork assignments that aren't her favorite. Working together might make it more fun for her and you could help expand her ideas. She just needs to keep you informed about what the assignments are. Also, if she doesn't like writing about herself / her feelings, which I *totally* understand and never enjoyed doing, maybe she could write stories instead, since she loves stories so much.

Mel said...

As a teacher, I am appalled that her teacher would write those comments. Self confidence is meaningful and I love that she thinks she rocks and is awesome. WOW! I'm sorry that she had to experience that. The teacher should have found a way to motivate her to write in her journal. By the way, I love the fancy writing. It's her journal she should write how she likes. Good luck this year!!

Elizabeth - Flourish in Progress said...

I love Magpie. She's well beyond her years in wit, sass, humor and awesomeness.

I just wish the teacher saw it.

l.e.s.ter said...

Entry #3 could pass for a "Synopsis of Hoy."

Laura A said...

I think that teacher was being super harsh, and trying to squash your daughter's creativity. Anyone would be bored if your teacher was demanding that you only write "plain letters" and such. Your daughter sounds like she's fun, creative, and super smart.

kfd&p said...

I think this is very typical of the "cookie cutter" style of teaching, that every kid will enjoy and function the exact same as every other kid, based on a strict curriculum. A good teacher would have found some specifics to guide her as to what to do. Some kids aren't going to just have stuff in their head to write down. She could have let her do one day a week where she did something using decorative letters. Let her draw one day a week. Tell a story. Write down the best thing that happened to her one week, the worst thing another week, tell how she felt both times. Find out what one of her favorite things are and get her to write something about it that she has discovered and no one else probably knows. Heck, not everyone is a creative writer. And no one likes to write "Today I did, x and x and then x and then went to bed". B-O-R-I-N-G!! 2nd grade should be fun! It's a discovery time. And if the teacher didn't have time to do these, she (or he) could have let you help be a guide by giving you a list of ways to involve your child in journaling.

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