Thursday, September 05, 2013

First day raves and rants

We've heard from one family that had a dreadful first day experience with a child's teacher.

My daughter reported an excellent first day of her senior year at Chief Sealth.

Do you have a story to share? Everything good? Everything good enough? Something go wrong, but less than tragically? Something go tragically wrong?

Transportation
Class assignment
Teacher assignment
Schedule
Equipment

43 comments:

Melissa Westbrook said...

It was kind of touching last night as Director Carr said it was her last "first" day of school as her daughter is entering her senior year of high school.

It does fly by.

Anonymous said...

Jane Addams, very rough. Seems like there's a mountain of denial that the k-8 is interim and the middle school is here to stay. I'm sure it will get better doing the year (I know they were trying, but seriously, the office should have done better), but hard to feel the love when it was that disorganized. Wish our principle wasn't listed on their page (at the end, like an after thought). She should be listed on JAMS page that the JAK8 should point to. I choose to remain 'cautiously optomustic', but worry what it'll be like when they leave and then my younger one will be headed to JAMS... the 'stuff' stays at JA building, right, like when the K8 got the building from Summit? Happy with the teacher, kids.
-next year :-)

ben said...

I'm a bit confused by the last comment. JAMS is still just in a planning phase until next year unless something has changed that I'm unaware of. If you're in the building this year, your child is enrolled in JA K-8.

What exactly was the rough part and what exactly do you characterize as denial?

Ben

Jamie said...

Great first day at Ballard HS for my junior. She is excited for all her classes but especially Physics.

Anonymous said...

K @ STEM--awesome, kid came home totally excited, teacher was wonderful, smooth transition, stocked classroom. Bus predictably
late.

Thurgood Marshall--runs like clockwork, great first day, great teacher, buses always very late the first while.

Sealth--schedule has turned into kind of a disaster, long waits to fix it, junior stressed out.

--3Kids 3schools

Anonymous said...

My view of Melissa's previous post is truncated - can others view the entire post?

Eric B said...

My last first day of elementary school. 5th grader was happy with her teacher and liked the 5th grade team building exercises. Sophomore at Ingraham was originally assigned to a senior-only history class in 3rd period, now is in the cafeteria for that period until that gets sorted out.

RosieReader said...

I, too, have a problem readin ghte post on the bad teacher. There's no "after hte jump," though there is a link to the SPS calender.

Anonymous said...

MW, can you fix the post on "Unhappy with Teacher"?

--TC

Anonymous said...

There was a full lobby of parents with unassigned kids at John Rogers yesterday morning. I think some parents had tried to enroll their kids over the summer, but due to the fiasco with the new enrollment system, their kids did not actually get enrolled.

All in all though, I think the first day of school went really well at John Rogers. My 4th grader had a great day, and kudos to our new principal, Sara Mirabueno, and all the John Rogers staff and the PTA for a great first day!

-JR Mom

Maureen said...

I think I can read the entire post (It ends with Desesperate!).

Sophomore at IHS had a very good start. She has a complete schedule and said that, as far as she remembers, every kid had a seat in all of her classes (unlike last year). Of course that could change given that tons of kids didn't seem to have complete schedules. I volunteered to direct people around in the morning and from the size of the line at the counselors' office I would say at least 60-100 kids had holes (some had no schedule at all). I'm guessing it really would have helped to have the computer system up on schedule.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I tried one thing but I'm not sure what the issue is. Let me know if it worked.

There was massive confusion at enrollment at headquarters yesterday. I have heard from several parents that things were still being done manually and the phone system was not working.

I have a call into SPS to find out the status today.

Anonymous said...

My view of Melissa's post is also truncated - and it truncates the entire blog with no way to comment on the truncated thread, or to move past it.

-reader

Anonymous said...

Three kids in two schools, and overall, things went really smoothly at both. The buses were actually pretty close to on-time in both the morning and afternoon, which is a *huge* change from past years (we're at a school with lots of busing).

The other schools seemed kind of disorganized, but not out of the realm. I think some new parents were a bit freaked out by this, but it always takes a few days to get the bugs worked out.

- Smoother

Anonymous said...

So far so good at Orca K-8. There's been quite a bit of turnover in the 4/5 grades, and with a new administration (Tonie Talbert & Jeanne Kuban). And because of the SPS enrollment issues, a number of kids were coming in w/o teacher assignments. But I think they got it (mostly) sorted out, and everyone seems to be handling it with good attitudes. The garden is looking great this year!
- southpaw

Unknown said...

Great first day at Green Lake Elementary for my 1st and 5th graders. From a parent perspective everything seemed smooth and well organized.

Green Lake Parent

Libby said...

Everything went smoothly for my 5th grader at Madison MS. Same for my 1st graders at K-5 STEM. They all came home energized and excited about their first day.

Melissa Westbrook said...

So I tried one more thing to fix that other post. I have not had any problem so I'm a bit stumped as to the issue.

If it continues to block you from reading the blog, let me know and I may eliminate it. There may be some bug that I just don't see.

mirmac1 said...

Readers can navigate to postings under that thread by clicking on quick link on the right hand side.

Anonymous said...

My Jane Addams first day experience with my 3rd grader was great! There was a lot of assistance at the office (although there was a steady stream of people with issues that needed to be resolved, the people were moved through reasonably fast.) It did seem that there were some scheduling issues with 6th graders, but I would expect that considering the enrollment system was down for so long and the 6th grade class size doubled.

The PTSA had a very well attended parent welcome breakfast up in the library and new parents were being shown the way.

My daughter loves her new teacher, she felt things were fun and organized.

I'm also confused about the comment above by "-next year" - There isn't a JAMS this year. It's my understanding that the JAMS planning principal has begun working on plans for the 2014-15 start of JAMS.

I believe that the JAMS planning group will, according to the time schedule put forth by the district, be established in the very near future.

~JAK-8 Parent

Anonymous said...

Hmm...
Maybe the 1st day glitches at JA K-8 were mostly at the middle school level?

My JA K-8 student (8th grader) told me that there were not enough seats for everyone in one of his classes, and that there were not enough seats in the cafeteria during lunch. Don't know how I feel about kids sitting on the floor for lunch. I hope things get smoothed out soon.

-Another JA-K8 parent

Anonymous said...

All fixed, MW. Thanks!

--TC

Patrick said...

Hmm. My 7th grader at JA K-8 did not report any problems and was happy with how the day went.

Louise said...

Next year, your comments sadden me greatly. I was also under the impression that JAMS was in the planning phase this year and rolling out until next year. So your resentment of the "mountain of denial" and greediness over the K-8s "stuff" is misplaced at best.

Anonymous said...

Madison MS handed out incorrect schedules to many students at orientation and then replaced them on the first day - after kids had practiced finding their classes with the wrong schedules. School seems responsive and remedied the situation. I think the district office is mostly responsible for these schedule and enrollment issues. On a positive note, my child loved the first day of MS!

mirmac1 said...

My child's bus was right on time. The supervisor at Transportation replied to an email right away. The school office staff helped me get a message to my child. Her schedule was correct.

All around a win for Madison MS. I did not hear whether the new interim principal was out and about meeting the students (but then my child is not always the most observant). I think that is an important duty on the first day of schedule.

Anonymous said...

Hamilton 8th grade went smoothly, though there are 36 kids (or more!) in each of my son's core classes. Also, he has Spanish in his math teacher's room, during the math teacher's planning period. (So much for her carefully curated Spanish-themed environment.) This is what they meant by packed, huh? But a great staff doing the best they can.

-Oh well

Anonymous said...

My 3rd grader had a great first day at Lincoln. They got to clean their desks with shaving cream - what could be better? (not much if you're a 3rd grader).

Lincoln mom

Eric B said...

From the man at the top:

Families,

I want to reassure you that we are working around the clock, with additional staff, to resolve issues that some of our families are experiencing regarding enrollment or scheduling at their school.

We appreciate your patience as we respond to the demands of both increasing enrollment and our transition to a new student information system.

To assist with parent inquiries and concerns, we have set up a separate email – StartOfSchool@SeattleSchools.org – where you can send any questions you have. We will respond to them as quickly as we are able.

Thank you again for your patience, and we appreciate your understanding.

Sincerely,

José Banda
Superintendent
Seattle Public Schools

Anonymous said...

I have a question about school bus behavior.
My 3rd grader rode the bus home every day last year (as a 2nd grader) uneventfully. This year we have a different driver and today (the first day my kid rode the bus home) the driver motioned he wanted to talk to me and told me my kid had been too loud, and had said something inappropriate and then got sent to sit in "bus jail" as a result. It seemed like the behavior must have been a really big deal for him to come down off the bus to tell me about it. I was quite surprised (kid does not normally get in trouble at school) and it was noisy with the bus running so I didn't ask for more information or anything. So now I'm just wondering if this is unusual. I'm not saying my kid is perfect but the behavior (kids version of it FWIW) doesn't sound that out of the ordinary or any worse than what went on last year. It sounds kind of typical bus hijinks/teasing maybe (not that I condone that).
I am just worried what is going to happen with riding the bus if we got off to such a bad start on the first trip of the school year. Is my kid's bus behavior really that bad? Is the bus driver really strict or intolerant? I'm not opposed to strictness if it is reasonable. Maybe the driver just wants to nip it in the bud, I guess.
However, I worry my kid will never be able to be "good enough" on this bus - they are kids, after all, at the end of a long school day and so I expect there will be a certain amount of noise/energy etc and it makes me wonder if this driver has unrealistic expectations.
So I'm interested in thoughts/experiences of other more seasoned parents both in terms of varying bus driver attitudes/discipline and whether you have had to deal with your kids bus behavior (and how).

On a positive note- it was on time (much better than the first week last year!)

Bus Fuss

Johnny Calcagno said...

Second day for a Garfield sophomore, who reports that there are *no* Spanish teachers yet.

The teacher he had last year apparently got RIFed, and two teacher "resigned" (left the district?) in August.

This does not thrill me.

mirmac1 said...

Okay. Here's my rant. Anyone else besides me find it ironic to read a FERPA release asking for my CONSENT for our info to be in the directory and the yearbook, yada yada. Meanwhile my child's disability status, courses, tests and other personal info is handed off to the Gates Foundation via its conduit CCER and the BERC Group?

Anonymous said...

Bus fuss,
I think its okay and important for bus drivers to have strict limits (safety!)and I think its smart for drivers to establish this most strongly on day one. AND all students need to be treated fairly and the drivers consequences need to be respectful and good for children.

I can't comment on your child's behavior. I wasn't there. I do know there can be a real fine line between bullying and teasing. Was the recipient enjoying it? If not, I appreciate the bus driver intervening.

If I was told my child was put into "bus jail" I would be angry. I think linking a consequence for a child with jail (and particularly children of color) is loaded, potentially harmful and inappropriate.

ny

Someone said...

@Bus fuss - without knowing what your child did specifically, it's hard to say if the driver over-reacted - sounds to me like someone setting the tone early to insure safety of all kids. That's his job - to deliver your kids safely home ;o)

ben said...

Well that was quite the second day of school. Our 7 year old son was denied entry onto his bus and forced onto another one crying. It then took about 2 hours to track him down. All the while transportation was completely inaccessible by phone or email. This was one of the the moments when the central office's incompetence really stung. I don't blame them much for the snafu but for the fact even in an emergency there is no one to get through to and no procedure setup for how kids are handled in this case. We were left guessing where to try to flag down the other bus.

Anonymous said...

ben,

If it was an emergency situation then perhaps you could have called security. I think they would have a direct line to transportation.

me

Anonymous said...

ben,

If it was an emergency situation then perhaps you could have called security. I think they would have a direct line to transportation.

me

Anonymous said...

Can anyone explain why some middle schools (Eckstein, Hamilton & Denny) are allowed to disregard state law and do not have school on the 1st day for all their 7th & 8th graders? Isn't there supposed to be equitable access for all students to the same 180 school days in each in every school?

It's not just a slow start like some schools have (i.e. to let the new 6th graders in middle school or 9th graders in high school have the first two hours at school by themselves), but rather no school at all! No, these kids sit at home all day and then spend a good amount of time on the second day of school doing the things that should have been taken care of on the first day (fixing holes in schedules, learning ground rules with 6 new teachers, finding their lockers etc.).

I don't understand how the district allows some schools to be so openly out of line with state education rules and requirements.

Just wondering?

Patrick said...

Ben, Something like that happened to our child a few years ago. Her transportation assignment had her dropped off in a strange neighborhood instead of at the after-school program we wanted. At the time, I didn't know any way to handle it but take the afternoon off work at meet the bus at her new assignment stop, while we tried and tried to get through to Transportation, with phone lines busy at all hours (just a busy signal, not even the chance to wait on hold), e-mail unanswered. It was infuriating and scary. They never did explain how they came up with the strange neighborhood; her transportation assignment should have carried over unchanged from the previous year.

Now I know that the schools can give out short-term passes to a different bus, so if you can't get through to Transportation, go to your school's office.

Anonymous said...

Lots of schedule snafus at Nathan Hale. Lots of kids with no schedule at all. Classes overloaded with kids. Paperwork having to be handed in multiple times because the office keeps losing it. Office staff not very friendly. I know they are overwhelmed and stressed but being nasty to a 15 year old girl and making her cry is over the top. I hope things start settling down soon.

HP

Lisa said...

Our experiences at BHS and HIMS were relatively smooth. The high schooler needs some schedule changes (not the fault of the school or district) and he said the counseling office seems overwhelmed and it may take awhile to get things straightened out.

One odd thing: he needs a study hall and I can't figure out if they exist at Ballard. He signed up for what we thought was one, but apparently it is an actual class that is designed to include some study-hall time. It is called Our Cultural Heritage, and while it is probably interesting what he really, really needs is study time during the day with NO course content. Anyone had their kid in something like that at BHS?

Christina said...

No problems. Although the student population of my son's grade doubled, he reports that nine students are in one class, and two students in another. Neither class is an elective. His other classes are full.

His online schedule lists eight classes (he takes six daily), but I expect after SPS resolves the urgent and critical issues of transportation, school assignation, et cetera I won't get messages about his "phantom courses." He knows what his courses to attend, thankfully.

dw said...

mirmac1 said: Okay. Here's my rant. Anyone else besides me find it ironic to read a FERPA release asking for my CONSENT for our info to be in the directory and the yearbook, yada yada. Meanwhile my child's disability status, courses, tests and other personal info is handed off to the Gates Foundation via its conduit CCER and the BERC Group?

Yes, it's appalling that there are backdoors to our childrens' data, and there appears to be no way to plug up those leaks.

Here's the problem: we talk about it, complain about it, and nothing whatsoever happens. How can this problem be fixed?

I think the only chance we have is if parents can be mobilized in numbers. Perhaps teachers as well, since in some systems their personal and professional data is distributed as well. How to mobilize? Via heavy duty education about what's happening in the world of big data, and how it can be harmful to our kids throughout the balance of their lives.

Melissa has mentioned more than once that she is working on a post or white paper on this topic; I'm really looking forward to reading it. Perhaps if it grabs the attention of enough people we can meet as a group to discuss how to tone down the oversharing. At that point I think it would be helpful to create a formally-named group. Hey, if all the dozens of astroturf groups can do it, we can too!