My daughter has been loving Middle School. Her father and I love going to Back-to-school night and hearing how much her teachers enjoy having her in their class. She especially loves her Pre-Algebra/Science teacher. Having Mrs. Jones as her teacher had been building up in her since the open house in Spring where incoming 6th graders were invited to visit and one of the classes we visited happened to be Mrs. Jones’ class. From then on, she was hoping to get Mrs. Jones for her teacher. We kept telling her that it doesn’t always work out that way and assured her that any teacher she got would be a good teacher. When she got her schedule and found she had Mrs. Jones, she was extremely thrilled like she had won a big prize.
On Back-to-School night, last week, the parents were informed, as the students has already been informed, that due to an unexpected influx of students qualifying for Pre-Algebra this year, there were too many students (over 50) in the class and they were getting another teacher to get the classroom size back down to district standards. Half of the students would be transferred to the new teacher. When we talked to our daughter about this, she wasn’t worried. She said that because she was in Cadet Band, and couldn’t have her schedule moved around, she wouldn’t have to go. She was wrong. They didn’t need to move the schedule around because the new teacher would be teaching Pre-Algebra and Science during the same period as Mrs. Jones. Her prize was ripped away.
When she came home Monday and told us she got moved, she seemed very upset and on the verge of tears. She told us she wanted to switch back. When I said that I didn’t think they would let her, she said that she was told that if their parents went to the office, they could get them switched back. She said that one of her friend’s mom is doing this.
She said there were other kids in her class who specifically said they did not care if they got switched or not, but she feels like she is the only one who actually cared about staying with Mrs. Jones who got switched and many of the students who did not have a preference got to stay with Mrs. Jones. She burst into sobbing for awhile. I almost cried, but managed to hold it together. I never had any intention of letting her switch back to her previous teacher, at least not until she gave the new one a fair shake. We told her that if she didn’t like her new teacher after the first week, then I would meet with the teacher, and if I felt she should be switched back, we would talk about that possibility. She began sobbing harder. This wasn’t good enough. She didn’t even want to meet her new teacher. I told her it was okay to be sad and reminded her that she could still visit Mrs. Jones anytime before and after school and during lunch. She gradually quieted down when she realized we were not going to budge on the issue.
The next morning, she begged me to not make her go to school. I calmly told her, she was going to school. She asked me to give her a ride (even though she has walked the ten-minute walk every day since the first day of school). I agreed. She managed to get through the day. When she came home, I asked her how her new teacher was. She rolled her eyes and said, “Fine.” She didn’t want to discuss it beyond that. It was as though she was disappointed that her new teacher was just fine.
Now let me tell you some of the “behind the scenes” action. As I may have mentioned in earlier posts, our daughter had been diagnosed in the past with an anxiety disorder. This made me second guess how we should handle the situation. We had this dilemma, Are we doing her a disservice if we let her change back (assuming that is possible)? Or are we doing her a disservice and provoking her anxiety issues by making her go with new teacher? We want her realize that sometimes things change and are out of our control, but we can get through it, the world doesn’t implode and sometimes it can even end up being a very positive experience in the long run. On the other hand, we also want her to realize that if she feels she is in an untenable situation, she does have the power to make changes and doesn’t have to just sit back and let things “happen” to her.