Thursday, November 15, 2012

Oh, so that's why they're doing that Family Tree Project

So, remember the whole Family Tree Project thing? I never did get an answer from her (email, note, phone call as promised - not a one). So I figured the old Parent-Teacher Conference would be a great opportunity to address that. Seems reasonable, right? I thought so. Well, let me just tell you I walked away with about the same amount of information/direction as I walked in with. Which was, well, pretty much nothing.

I repeatedly tried to get her to explain her reasons for doing this project. But she didn't seem to really want to talk about it. I admitted that I was having a difficult time knowing where to start and that we needed some direction. I pointed out the obvious (that the kid was adopted) and that this presented different dynamics in regards to this project. She said - wait for it - that she didn't want any secrets exposed through this project.

I seriously sat there staring at her for what had to of been 30seconds, trying to process what she'd just said and form an appropriate response.  I calmly (pat self on back) explained that we have an open adoption with the kid's birth family but that even if we didn't, there would certainly be no secrets.

She then said - oh, yes, it does get better - that she didn't want him to share "all that stuff". I calmly (again, pat self on back) told her that the kid would be deciding who he wanted to include on his family tree. We are perfectly happy with whatever he decides. Though, truthfully, we'd love him to include his birth family. But that is totally and completely up to him.

She then pulled out a previous student's project and showed it to us. It was the same one she'd shown at that first parents' meeting. She kept saying that student was from Japan, as if that was, like, the same thing as the kid having been adopted.

I'm pretty sure we were speaking different languages. Or something.

Know what I think? I think it's a project she's done for years. She likes it for whatever reason, and that's why she keeps doing it. I asked her a couple of different ways to explain her desired learning objectives/what she wants the kids to learn from it/what she's hoping to see. But I never got an answer. Hubby even tried asking her in his own way. Still there was never a concrete answer. Heck, there was never even a hint of an answer.

You know, I'd so been hoping that she would be able to offer a good explanation, but there was none.

So, here's what we're going to do. My idea is to make a big tree with lots of leaves. The kid can put whatever family members he wants on those leaves. And, to me, family is whoever he decides it is. If he wants to put Mr Frank, our cranky old neighbor who mows his yard at least 2x/week, on there, then that's fine with me. If he wants to only include himself, hubby, me and baby E, I'm also fine with that.

We are going to use it as an opportunity to talk about all the different ways families look. We are going to give him free license to be creative. And that's it.

Today's Lesson: Busy work starts early, when we're still little people. And it's equally as irritating as busy work is when we're big people.


Peg said...

I never want to be "that parent" who complains to teachers, but geez this lady seems clueless. We're having problems with the 7th graders' English teacher and her responses show me she just doesn't get it and I'm not sure ever will.

I think the way you are handling your family tree is perfect. The kids in our family have struggled with how to put together projects like this. Sometimes Molly makes us her family and ignores her sisters and parents and other times she doesn't include us and only her parents and sisters. Liam never really knows what to do...are the girls his sisters or cousins? If he includes Emma and Molly does he include his other cousins that he loves sooo much. It's complicated.

The busywork lesson made me chuckle :)

Great posts this month!!

Mary said...

I admire you for being so calm. How hard can it be for the teacher to just explain her objective?!

Reagan and Trevor's Mommy said...

OMG. The "secrets" comment seriously made me laugh out loud. I think her family tree project is her still trying to figure out how babies are made! She must have really been confused in 8th grade biology learning about dominant and submissive genes. Wow. Kudos to you for not calling her an idiot on the spot!

M said...

How frustrating!

Elizabeth said...

Secrets? REALLY?! Good grief, lady, get a clue. And how unprofessional of her to not return your email about the project initially. The WORST family tree project story I've heard is at a Mito support group I went to- they took the kids to another room and had them make family trees, but told them to "X out" any family member who had died. AWFUL.