Parenting 101: Do Your Research

Here’s the deal…

My Munch received a zero on a classwork assignment on 3/4/16. He’s in the second grade at a French Immersion school and he is now taking Reading and English to be prepared for the state’s standardized testing next year. His dad and I both have undergraduate degrees in English and value education immensely.  I am active in his PTSA, assist in classroom parties/events and fund-raise for the school. To say that I love his school would be an understatement. I’ve always found that the school and administration was very supportive and encouraging. From the parents to the staff everyone has always provided sound advice.

I check his grades weekly on our school’s website portal because I don’t ever want to be surprised when I see his progress reports. Plus if there are things he needs help in I need to be able to attack it immediately and help in any way possible. Well on 3/10 I was checking the website and discovered that my son had received a zero on classwork dated 3/4.  I emailed his teacher on 3/10 asking about the assignment and can she please send it home. She immediately responded yes that she would send it home.

Here’s some background:  She said that the assignment he turned was illegible and that what she could read made no sense.  Now, I know that my son doesn’t have the best handwriting in the world, but it is on par with most 7 year old children, but I was a little stunned that he would receive a zero. His first ever zero in the second grade.

Classwork accounts for 35% of his grade in the quarter. A zero was definitely going to bring his grade down in the class. Furthermore, I had inquired about some missing homework assignments that weren’t graded and showing on the website and received the response from the teacher that she had chosen not to grade them. Umm, say what now?

I was upset and immediately responded that if she could give him a zero she could count the homework that he did to not set him at a disadvantage. He did the work. Why would you choose to not give him credit for said work?

No response. Crickets.

I emailed the Principal and copied the teacher regarding my concerns on 3/23 because I still hadn’t received the paperwork that I requested on 3/10. I was upset at this point because I had a meeting with his main teacher on 3/15 (3rd this year) and asked her could she be present and she said she had a conflict. I asked for the paper again and I still hadn’t received it.

You get my frustrations right?  The quarter was ending and I was getting no help from his main teacher so I assumed that the Principal needed to intervene and advise at this point.  Well, here’s the email that I sent to the Principal.

 

Hi Principal,

Please see the below email communication with Ms. V who is my son’s (2nd grade) reading teacher. We’ve been going back and forth regarding grades for quite some time. The last communication I sent on Wednesday of last week has not received a response. I discovered that Munch received a zero for a reading assignment that was done in class (that still has not been received by me). In reviewing the county’s website, Administrative Procedures 5121.1 I understand Reporting and Recording Grades it states that a zero can be given if “a teacher determines that the student did not attempt to meet the basic requirements of the task/assessment, the teacher may assign a zero.”

Which apparently Mrs. O determined that my son didn’t attempt to meet the basic requirements. This is inaccurate since according to Ms. V he did the assignment it just wasn’t legible.  On top of that zero Ms. V indicated that she decided not to count some of the homework that he’s done this quarter. I know homework is only 15% but he did the work and it should be counted.  Since the zero he received in classwork is 35% of his grade and being counted.

I’m trying to determine why that would be the case considering that the Grading Policy states: 

Recording

a. Teachers will maintain a record of each student’s work, progress, and attendance on a daily basis.

b. Teachers will grade and give a score for all student assignments in grades 2-5, when appropriate, including class work, homework, written assignments, projects, and labs. A score of 0 (zero) will be given to students who do not attempt to complete or fail to submit an assignment. On tests and quizzes, the student will receive the grade earned. This does not preclude teachers from giving daily markdowns to give students every opportunity to complete an assignment before giving a zero for the assignment.

What is interesting to note is that in that same Admin Reg it states that “In classes that meet 4-5 times per week, the classroom teacher must record in SchoolMAX a minimum of two grades per week in each subject for each student. If a class meets once a week then only one grade will be recorded.”  This is not happening in all my son’s classes consistently. We can review his School Max account and you can see this.  Furthermore, we don’t receive the paperwork back in a timely fashion which is also a requirement. “Teachers will return graded papers and assignments in order to provide on-going, timely feedback to student and parents.”

Am I only required to check SchoolMax to see if my son is having trouble or are we supposed to receive the graded assignments timely so that we as his parents and our son are on the same page with his struggles?

So, here’s a summation of what the issues are that we would like resolution on:

  • He received a zero and according to the Admin Procedures 5121.1 that should not have happened.
  • No opportunity was given to my son to earn partial credit from redoing the class work or reading it orally since he was present and did the class work.
  • We haven’t seen the class work assignment that he received a zero on.  We want to see the assignment that he go the zero on.
  • We are not receiving graded assignments in a timely fashion to be provided timely feedback on our son’s progress.
  • The homework that he did that is missing from School Max wasn’t counted and according to the policy it should have been. It not being counted will negatively impact my son’s grade since the teacher is trying to count the zero.

We would like this situation rectified before 3rd quarter ends this week. The county has guidelines that I assume all teachers are supposed to follow and we would like to make sure that this policy is being followed when it comes to my son’s teachers to ensure that my son has every opportunity to be successful in the second grade.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. I look forward to hearing a response to you on the above issues that I’ve outlined. 

Boom!

I had read and researched the County’s policy regarding grading and found the above information to outline to the Principal. I had to let the Principal know that I had researched the policy and I needed some guidance because I didn’t believe that this was fair. I was concerned for my son’s grades, how assignments are not being sent home and no response to my email regarding her not counting his homework.

See my concerns here?

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Munch & Black History

My munch is in the first grade and decided that he would like to participate in the PTSA’s Annual Black History Month program. The conversation about participation went like this…

Me:  Munch, would you like to participate in the black history month program at school?

Munch: What does participate mean?

Me: You get to stand on the stage and recite facts about someone who is black.

Munch: Yes.

Me: Are you sure munch?

Munch: Yes.

Me: How about we talk about Nelson Mandela? You seem to be fascinated about his life and the fact that he’s dead.

Munch: Okay, mommy. You know Nelson Mandela died because he was old and sick right?

Me: Let’s work on this program.

As I sat there helping him work on reciting “Seven Facts About Nelson Mandela”  I started to get nervous. I prayed and relaxed. I told myself that it’s okay and to go with the flow.

But, in his performance last night I realized the following:

  1. He’s 6. He can remember a paragraph in 3 days. Wow!
  2. This is his first solo performance. No back-up of other children on stage. All him and he owned the stage. Go munch!
  3. He can’t fill 3 minutes. Next, we will work on public speaking and presence on stage. I will pull out my Toastmasters manual to help my munch.
  4. He will make mistakes and it’s okay. Even our President makes mistakes. It’s life. He talked really fast. He gets it from me though. LOL!
  5. He will forget something. He forgot a line,  but he is the only one who didn’t use a paper to read about his character. Again, 3 days folks!
  6. We may need to go back to speech therapy. I truly couldn’t understand some of what he was saying. Is that a lisp?
  7. I was truly proud of him because he’s smart as a whip and he showed real courage by standing on a stage reciting seven facts that he learned in three days with a crazy mom pushing him. For that, I’m truly honored to just be his mommy.

Even though I was like a maniac helping him to rehearse (I cut story time each night to focus on reciting and memorizing) he loved me in spite of my persistence. However, his dad did ask me to ease up on him because I was acting like one of the women on Dance Moms. I’m sure that wasn’t meant as a compliment, so I relaxed and was excited to see that he was #3 in the program. No time for nerves, munch. Let’s do it!

Check out these photos!

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Check out the video of his presentation on my Facebook Page: Post by A Thomas Point of View.

 

The Inventor: Mark Dean

It’s Black History Month folks!

As a black woman, I wanted to highlight some of the accomplishments of black people who are living. Each week, I will be researching and sharing tidbits about black people who are and/or have done great things. Bear with me because I promise you will learn something and I will keep it interesting.

First up is…

Dr. Mark Dean (March 2, 1957-present)

Dr. Dean was born in Jefferson City, Tennessee (my home state). He is a computer scientist, engineer and inventor. He landed a job at IBM after graduating from the University of Tennessee with a degree in engineering. While working at IBM he developed many new technologies. He currently holds three of their original nine patents. Impressive huh?

Dean developed the new Industry Standard Architecture (ISA) systems bus that allow devices like disk drives, printers and monitors to be plugged directly into computers. Where would we be if we didn’t have this early technology?

Dean’s research led to the development of the color PC monitor and, in 1999, he led a team of engineers to create the first gigahertz chip. Both are invaluable in terms of what we use today. Heck, I have a 24 inch computer monitor for my personal computer. Brilliant picture and color. Thanks Dr. Dean!

Dean has more 20 patents associated with his name. He is a brilliant man who was named an IBM fellow (first black ever to receive this award).He was honored with the Black Engineer of the Year President’s Award and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Cool huh?

When asked by PC World, December of 2014, of all the technology you’ve had a hand in creating, what are you most proud of? He replied:

“I am most proud of the PC and the team it took to make it happen. We developed a device that changed the way society works, learns and plays. It enabled the world to be more productive and entertained. How many times does someone get to work on something that had the impact the PC had on the world?”

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Happy Birthday MLK!

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Today is Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. He would have been 87. He was an activist, humanitarian and a leader in the Civil Rights movement. He was a part of history. A brilliant but flawed man that believed in equal rights in a non-violent way.

I saw Selma last month and I am encouraging each of you to see and support this wonderful film. From the opening to the closing of this film, you will be moved. It is a film that speaks relevance to things that are occurring today in this world.

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Women Rock!

Last week, I took my car into my local Tires Plus for my oil change and winter maintenance. What surprised me most about this visit was that they had women who worked in their maintenance shop. I’ve rarely seen women who work in the automotive field, but the few times that I have seen women, I’m always surprised by the look of the women who work with men all day. Pretty much they seem masculine.

Now, before you get all in a huff, I am a feminist and any woman working in a male dominated field is a great thing! I am all for women being treated equally. But, my automotive technician didn’t appear masculine in her dress or attitude. She wasn’t trying to hide her curves or fit in with the guys. She was just doing her job.

And you know what? She did a great job. She was very thorough with her recommended repairs and the maintenance. I was extremely impressed and told the manager that I would be back because they had women automotive technicians which shows that they are trying to diversify their staff. He smiled. So, I got back to the house and researched how many women actually work in the automotive field and you know what I discovered? That accordingly only 1.8% women were employed as automotive service technicians or mechanics in 2013.

Are you serious? I knew it was low, but this low? We have got to change that ladies! Let’s push our girls to explore more male dominated fields like automotive technicians and/or mechanics. There is always a demand for a great mechanic and it allows women to be taken more seriously as they climb in the management roles (should they choose to) because they have the hands on experience that makes men take a step back and take them seriously. There are many schools that offer an automotive technician program and if you are interested in going further, consider enrolling in mechanical engineering programs. I want to see more women mechanics when I take my car to get serviced. Even in the Goma (which is known as the rape capital of the world) in the Democratic Republic of Congo you have women that have carved out their own by becoming mechanics in a male dominated industry. Let’s do it locally too.

Girl power is awesome!
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I Get it Okay

I’m anemic. I’ve been dealing with anemia most of my life, but never to the point that it has gotten as bad as it has now. I’m exhausted (severely fatigued) and barely able to perform my day-to-day tasks. So on Monday, I called my doctor and left a voice mail about the new medication he’s put me on and how it’s affecting my anemia (which has been mild up until this point). The nurse called me back and said the side effects of the medication are normal, but that I need to get on Iron supplements immediately. She said that she would leave a note for the doctor who was making rounds that day and would call me tomorrow. No problem.

On Tuesday, I went to the local CVS to get some supplements ASAP like the nurse said to try to get this constant fatigue under control. I am so tired that it feels like there is not enough hours in the day and I can barely drive the 14 miles to work. I took two pills yesterday and then received an email from my doctor recommending that I get a biopsy and that he’s contacted the scheduling coordinators in the office so that I can get on the schedule. Hold up! What? For real? Why?

No reason mentioned as to why I should go for this invasive procedure when I was told by the nurse that my side effects that are worsening my anemic self are normal. Whose running whom? I was hot. I decided to not respond to his email at this point because I needed to craft a perfect snarky response to send to him.

Here were some of my response choices:

Response #1

Dr. *Blank*:

Have you lost your dang mind? Why in the heck would you send me an email and mention the word biopsy and me getting one? Do you think that is appropriate? Were you sniffing the gas when you did your rounds today? I think you need to call me ASAP because I’m ready to drive over to your office now with my anemic self and demand a face-to-face consultation.

Call me now!

Response #2

Dr. *Blank*:

Umm, I’m gonna take negative on the biopsy for $200. Why? Because you didn’t explain why I would need a biopsy, the risk of said biopsy or even talk to me like I’m an actual breathing patient. I’m getting weak writing this because if you haven’t heard, my anemia is making me pass out.

Call me now man!

Response #3

Dr. *Blank*:

Wow! You were so thoughtful when I was breeding and carrying and actual human being in my womb, but now since I’m not you’re acting like I’m a menopausal “Stepford Wife” with no real opinion. Why would you suggest a biopsy in email and think that I would agree to such an invasive procedure without a phone call or a face-to-face consultation? Don’t you understand that I’m a feminist and even though you were there when I gave birth to my king, women run this world! You would know that if you were paying attention. I can’t talk to you anymore and I would like one of the other women doctors in the practice to call me ASAP because they apparently have graduated medical school and understand my rights as a woman and a human being. I bid you farewell and would like the higher species in the practice to contact me from now on.

 

As you can see, I was going through it right? But, the gist of the matter was that I was not going to get a biopsy or any other invasive procedure without talking to the person who wants to do it. I went home that night and in my severely anemic and weakened state began to research my condition and learned that according to The Mayo Clinic (a really important clinic) that I have 7 out of the 10 symptoms. Here is the list of symptoms:

Anemia symptoms vary depending on the cause of your anemia but may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Pale skin
  • A fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Cognitive problems
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Headache

Yep, I was depressed. I swore I started seeing stars at that moment. I just
climbed my frail and anemic body under the covers and started to try to motivate myself to keep up the good fight. I searched the internet to try and find songs to encourage and inspire me because hey I’m dramatic. I found this list of 31 inspiring songs and realized one of my favorite artists was among them…Kelly Clarkson. I decided “Ode to my Anemia” and chose to listen to this song on repeat:

Yep, what doesn’t kill me will make me stronger! No Anemia, I will not die. I will fight! I will get healthy and I will survive. (I was going through it the other night).

The next morning, I called a good friend of mine to update him on my condition. He is in the ministry and he listened to my dramatic monologue on how the anemia was trying to take me out, but I wasn’t letting it. He never interrupted. That’s what friends do right? Listen. Well, when I finished he said, “I’m really sorry you’re going through this and you’ve consulted the internet, but have you gone to God with this?” I was hot.

Why was I hot? Because here he was trying to tell me what I should do about my medical condition and he doesn’t have a medical degree. Men, I tell you! I went off. I said, “Look, God is too busy to worry about me and my anemic self. He’s focused on bigger issues and bigger prayers. Like my prayer for Ebola, but thank you for your concern.” He was offended. He said, “Wow! It amazes me how people who are faithful to God don’t realize that God wants you to come to him in all things.” He said, “I never expected to hear that from you.”

Well, I was fit to be tied. Much arguing, overtalking and I gotta get ready for work statements and we ended the call. I went about my day talking with the office nurse who was making notes to send back to the doctor (still no call from the man himself) and then I said I need to write about this. I looked up what my friend said about God wanting me to come to him for everything and realized…he was right. I was wrong. It says so in Luke 16:10 (KJV) “ He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.”

I felt horrible. I was not going to God with my severe anemia because I wanted him to focus on Ebola and I thought this was too small for him. But, I should have known better. All things should be brought to him and he will decide what he’s too busy for. I owe my friend an apology, which I probably won’t give him due to my anemia being so severe that I am entitled a pass (hey cognitive problems okay). More important than my not giving an apology is the fact that I learned that I must go to God with everything.

No Fat Chicks!

Sometimes the hardest thing we can do is put ourselves out there. You know go “all in” to show someone we are ready and willing to be available to let happiness and love come into our lives. Dating has changed dramatically since I was last single. I’ve expressed how I’ve tried the on-line dating thing and my experiences from some of the men. That being said, I wonder what would have happened if no one tried to contact me after I posted my profile? That was the case of one woman who wrote an article about her experience on XO Jane last month.

The article titled “IT HAPPENED TO ME: I Tried Online Dating And No One Even Messaged Me Back” was depressing to me. I mean her profile and picture looked nice, what was wrong with men? Why didn’t they find her attractive? The author, Patrice Bendig, was crushed that not one person messaged her back. She put herself out there and was emotionally crushed by people who never got to find out how incredible she was.

She said that her self-esteem took a hit and as a curvy girl, my heart ached for her. I think one of the hardest things women (especially curvy women) deal with is finding someone who will admit to liking a thick um and wanting to be seen in public with them. All things curvy women fear. The fear of rejection is real and I think we need to stop acting like loving and dating a curvy girl is the end of the world.

Why would it be? Just because I have a little more cushion doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in exercise or am one step away from being featured on an episode of “Obsessed: I Weigh 650 Pounds and Can’t Get Out of Bed”. Nope. Not me. I am not ashamed of my size and I don’t want a man who is ashamed to be with me. I love the shape of my hips and the curve of my thighs. The stretch marks from carrying a king. All badges of honor that I wear well while working out on the treadmill.

Curvy girls come with a certain level of confidence, but that confidence is fragile when you find yourself dating and trying to meet new people who think you need to just work out and they will help you because they are a certified personal trainer. I’m always cautious about men who approach me and say they like thick women. They find curvy girls sexy. Really? So, everyone else is below par if they are smaller? Why are you saying you are a closet chubby chaser? (May not be rational, but I’m guarded).

Even one of my favorite plus size bloggers, CeCe Olisa blogged about her experiences in an article on Refinery 29 titled “Is Online Dating Different for Plus Size Women”. CeCe said “It can feel like everyone has an amazing dating life but you, and it can feel like you only attract people who have issues or fetishes. But, someone reminded me that those things happen to girls of any size.” But, do skinny women get humiliated like a faux curvy woman did in this Tinder experiment? (In case you don’t know, Tinder is an app that matches people based on appearances).

Probably not. I mean the guys who conducted the social experiment even said that women’s biggest fears about meeting a man on line is that he is a serial killer whereas a man’s biggest fear…meeting a fat chick. Wow! Let’s sound the alarm and have a revolution against ignorance. What happened to men who appreciated beautiful women inside and out? Where did they go? Can the non-jerks who love God, their family, curvy women and are employed please stand up?

In an “Instagram I got to show you how I can twerk like Nikki Minaj and close the partition like Beyoncé age” it makes me wonder how many times curvy girls will keep getting the short end of the stick in dating? Are we resigned to believe that we have to take what we can get because they’re not a lot of options out there? What happened to getting to know me first before trying to guess my pant size?

A lot of stuff huh? Well I’m going to deal with it like my momma said, “Put your big girl panties on and formulate a plan.” My plan is simple. Keep my expectations low, my self-esteem high and have a lot of confidence to carry me through this foolishness. Rejection is a part of the process. Rejection builds character. It is in our painful experiences that we can grow and realize that we were built to last.

¡Viva la revolución mis hermanas

(Long live the revolution my sisters!)

Here’s the social experiment video: