At the introverted thinker's first parent teacher conference, first grade, the teacher said, "You have a very interesting daughter."
"Oh?" I said.
"Yes," said the teacher. "The children have choice time, where they are allowed to pick different activities. I set up different tables and stations and let them move around. I set up an estimation table one day. Your daughter went to that table, but she didn't stay for very long. She moved to another station.
I went over and asked, 'why didn't you stay very long at that table?'
She said, 'It's not very interesting and I like to do things that are interesting.'
The thing is, she was right. I had set it up very quickly and it was very simple. And she wasn't afraid to tell me."
At the next conference the teacher said, "I decided to challenge your daughter. I like to see how the kids work together. I gave them a project in pairs. They had to draw a map on poster board of an imaginary country. They had to name it and give it a river, a railroad, a road and other specific things.
I paired your daughter with a fairly difficult partner to see how she would do. She engaged him enough to get him to name the country and draw railroad tracks. Then she did the rest of the map herself, since he kept wandering off. She didn't complain, she just worked around him."
It gives me some hope and a different perspective of public school that teachers are pairing children to work with each other right from so early.
And my first parent teacher conference?
My teacher said to my parents, "At the start of the year, I put the children in groups of four at tables. I have one project with pick-up sticks of four colors. I dump a set on each table and ask each group to sort them by color. This usually keeps them busy for quite a while.
But not this year. Your daughter looked at the sticks and said: 'You take red, you take green, you take blue and I take yellow. Go.' That table finished in a quarter of the time of the others. She organized them."
I know just how my daughter feels. Let's get the make work done and maybe they'll let us do something interesting.