Thursday, September 17, 2009

Surviving to Parent Another Day

We managed to survive our first go at homeschool teacher evaluations, and in typical fashion I made it out to be way more than it was, and stressed way more than I needed to. Oh well, some things will never change.

Since the dawn of man, or at least the beginning of our homeschool experience, we have been wrestling a bit with the state as to how we're supposed to homeschool. The state has many requirements regarding how we begin and end the school year, and they want to be in the loop. Fair enough, I'm all for the oversight, because not only do I not know what I'm doing, but it's nice to know that someone cares, or at least feigns interest.

The problem we keep running into is that we keep getting it wrong. Chalk it up to my inability to follow instructions, but every time we submit some necessary documentation, I seem to get a letter telling me what a loser I am, which actually is probably not so far from the truth. At least, that's what my mom would tell you. Anyway, it happened when we last submitted our curriculum for the 2009-10 school year, though I think we did better than last year because the changes weren't profound, just a few oversights on my part. Then again, we haven't heard back, so stay tuned for more.

The big problem we encountered last year was when we submitted our end of year portfolio, which was a complete bear of a job. There was so much information and so many documents that we sent a file one inch thick, and we had to omit many of the items. And then the state said we were completely clueless. There were a few weeks of back and forth while we tried to get our acts together, until finally they actually called me at home and told me what to do. They let me slide, but clearly I wasn't getting the point.

The problem I run into is that we do a lot of reading and conversation about many subjects. Some things just can't be quantified on paper. And proof of attendance wasn't enough, they wanted more in-depth documentation, which I could not provide. Anyway, it gave me a stomachache, and in the end, I wasn't sure what to do. So, in typical fashion, I applied the strategy that I always employ under duress - I ignored it and hoped it would go away.

Well, this approach worked until the next school year, and then come Spring, when they say your can begin sending in year end evaluations, I gradually became more and more anxious about the whole thing, until finally I had a conversation with another homeschool parent who said they use a certified teacher who does evaluations. Best of all, we know her.

At that point, it was a no-brainer. I wasn't about to try the whole portfolio thing again, and I figured I had a better chance talking to an evaluator face to face to explain what we'd done. Then again, I didn't know what she was expecting, so I tirelessly put together an outline of what we'd done for the year, complete with examples and documentation.

We met with her yesterday, and it went very well. I think it helped immeasurably that she got to sit down and speak with A, because after a few moments it's obvious that she's on top of her game, and I think this came through loud and clear. And the clincher was that while she was being interviewed, I was able to take the car and have the tires rotated because the shop was right next door.

I am so relieved, this was the big issue haunting me after our trip. Now, I await word from the state about our curriculum (BTW, I submitted N's curriculum, as well, and it passed with flying colors - go figure!). I don't know how it works with the evaluation, my understanding is that SG, the evaluator, will fill out the paperwork and give me two copies, one of which I will keep, the other of which I will send to the state. Fair enough.

In the meantime, we have the Tunbridge Fair to look forward to. It's going to be a madhouse, but in a good way. Thanks for reading, and thanks to Simona Dumitru for the pic.

No comments: