Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Evil Snapgrades

Larry just came upstairs and saw me on my laptop. "Are you blogging?" he asked me, hopefully. No, I wasn't. I was checking snapgrades online. I can now watch my kids' progress at school real-time, provided their teachers log their grades regularly.

Is this a good thing, or a bad thing?

I've shared that Griffin has nonverbal learning disorder, a learning challenge that makes it necessary for me to monitor his progress daily to make sure that he hasn't missed any assignments or tests. Hmm. Or is it really necessary? He has a section 504 plan in place, meaning that his teachers have to participate in certain classroom accommodations to give him a fair chance to succeed in the classroom. One of the provisions is that I will check his daily progress to help keep him on track.

I do this regularly, but sort of on the sly. I still expect him to keep track of his own work and try to remember assignments on his own. I see regular progress. But, as a backup, I still watch to make sure it gets done.

Now, there is no doubt in my mind, or Larry's, that Larry had the exact same thing as a youngster...and probably still does as an adult. Of course back then, none of these things were identified, much less diagnosed. A great example? My mom remembers a kid in my brother's elementary school class who probably had ADHD, but in those days, the teacher just put a refrigerator box around his desk to eliminate outside stimuli. Know what? It worked, and the teacher didn't get sued.

When we were in junior high, we didn't have agendas to keep track of our assignments that were stamped by every teacher. We didn't have our grades online for our parents to check. We had to keep track of it all on our own, and if it didn't get done, we paid the price when our report cards came out. Larry struggled mightily in school, but look at him now. He leared to adapt, found his niche, and is happily married with a great job.

But...being able to check my kids' grades gives me a heads up on where they are struggling. I can see trends, like lower test scores and higher classwork scores. Testing anxiety? Inadequate studying? I can help my kids address some of the things that might help them do better, and that's a good thing. Our teachers do the best they can, but with bigger classes and less resources, there is only so much they can do. Successful students have parents who are involved in their educations.
The moral? I can't get obsessed with it. I need to let my kids succeed on their own, remember things on their own, and, sometimes, fail on their own. We have so many, if not too many, opportunities to interfere on our kids' behalf when it comes to school. But by the same token, we need to partner with our teachers and schools in an effort to help our kids succeed. It's a fine line between involvement and interference.

Blog more, check snapgrades a little less.

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