Teacher conferences today!
Dave and I had back-to-back 20 minutes with Julian's teacher, then Gabriel's teacher. I was mortified that part of Julian's conference involved discussing Gabriel's behavior. Unfortunately, their classrooms are near each other, so Gabriel comes over and messes around in front of Julian's class in the mornings -- despite strict instructions to go straight to his own classroom. Julian's teacher has had to order him away, as recently as last week. ~FUME~.
Anyway, overall Julian's doing fine. His main issue is concentrating in class; he's Mr. Social and talks to people and doesn't get his work done. Unlike his older brother, he responds to measures his teacher takes, mostly missing recess or free-play time to complete his work. Julian hates that, so improves quickly. His teacher confirmed things we already knew about Julian (we didn't ask, she volunteered): he loves to read, his reading is excellent, and he's very interested in anything having to do with science. He resists writing and coloring, the latter of which I don't worry about, but the writing....he's going to have to step that up.
On to the 3rd grade classroom. Quite the contrast. Gabriel's teacher doesn't have the luxury of merely withholding recess to get him to re-think his behavior. He's doing a lot better than in the beginning of the year, but the standards of independence and good behavior are much higher in 3rd grade. Like us, she believes Gabriel could be doing much better especially in math, which he claims to like but messes up a lot with sloppy erratic work. He drags his heels about writing and does the bare minimum, even though she believes (and I agree) he's actually a very good writer. He does the bare minimum for much of his work, including for things that she knows he's capable of doing much better. Lately in class she's been putting together competitive teams, and Gabriel responds well to that. Classroom behavior and transitions, he's bottom of the barrel. She warned us that he really needs to get over that for 4th grade, when there will be 30 kids in the class. He has his moments of shining bright, and others of falling flat. She even suggested putting together a behavior contract again to gather information to consult the district's psychologist.
Even more than what the teachers say, I come away struck by how different I feel in each meeting. In the meeting with Gabriel's teacher, much experience has taught me to brace myself, to prepare myself for cringing, for thinking of ways to improve matters, against all odds. In Julian's meeting, it's a relative breeze. He's much easier to guide and correct, and he really cares about his schoolwork, despite the distraction from socialization. Even though Julian is one of the kids in her class that requires a fair amount of energy ("Boys!" the teacher chuckled), it's downright amusing next to the serious challenges that Gabriel poses. And there is a long-running pattern with Gabriel's resistance, starting in kindergarten. Gabriel, for all his talents, has such a strong independent personality and is so immune to social pressures and intimidation that's it's very hard to make small corrections that any 3rd-grader needs. Julian is much more responsive and able to consider consequences.
I've already started getting nervous about how to handle all three kids in school next year, but something tells me that teacher conferences for Katrina will be a total ray of sunshine.