School didn't acknowledge child

Posted by: cee

School didn't acknowledge child - 03/14/14 06:25 AM

Our school district has a weak orchestra program. Very few children participate in the optional state rankings festival or regional concerts... anyway, my son is a very good player who studies with private teacher.

Last year at the elementary school, he and another student were nominated and played for a regional county concert, that brings together the best players from the school districts. They were congratulated in morning announcements, and given certificates by principal. They felt proud, and all was well and good.

My son is now in first year at Middle School, grade 6. The only one nominated to play in that same orchestra this time. He goes to school the next day, and gets no congratulations in the announcements (the concert wasn’t even MENTIONED), he was given no certificate, no mention in newsletter, nothing. Clear as day that the school doesn’t value orchestra/music achievements by the students.

He is 10 years old. From what he says, he seems to feel unvalued by the school, and that his achievement doesn’t matter to them. He is still sad. The concert was 2 months ago.

To make matters worse, he participated in a second and different regional orchestra last weekend, again representing the school district, and NO congratulations.

Would anyone here talk to the school, if they were in my shoes as an advocating parent?
Posted by: GF2

Re: School didn't acknowledge child - 03/14/14 06:43 AM

I would definitely send an email to the principal and to the guidance counselor or maybe to his favorite teacher (depending on whom I felt most comfortable with, and depending on which person "gets" my kid the most). I'd say, just in an upbeat way, "Hi! Just wanted to let you know that DS did xyz, and only __ kids in the whole [district, state, etc] did this! This really reflects well on our school, and we are proud of DS."

I'd do this first, on the chance that the school just didn't realize/take notice. Especially if the school (like our former school!) is weak in music, they just don't "get"/take notice/stay on top of music achievements. My kid's elementary/middle school was so weak in music that (out of a population of 60 per grade) they had only THREE kids in the orchestra by 5th grade, 1 by 6th grade, and none by 8th grade.
Posted by: ColinsMum

Re: School didn't acknowledge child - 03/14/14 06:51 AM

No, I definitely wouldn't - and tbh, if my son were still sad about school's lack of acknowledgement two months later, I'd be very concerned, and would be talking to him about valuing experiences for their own sake and not because of someone else's approval! In my experience schools' acknowledgement or not of children's achievements appears random (while some of my DS's have been acknowledged, most haven't, and the ones that have been noticed haven't been the ones that were most prestigious!). I suspect it basically is a random process, possibly influenced by school ethos, who happens to mention it to someone who controls recognition and when, whether the child is perceived as needing the boost, etc. etc.
Posted by: indigo

Re: School didn't acknowledge child - 03/14/14 07:23 AM

Congratulations to your son for representing his school in the regional events. What instrument(s) does he play?
Originally Posted By: cee
Would anyone here talk to the school, if they were in my shoes as an advocating parent?
Possibly. This may depend on local norms, which may differ from elementary school to middle school. For example:
- Who nominated him to play in the regional orchestra this year (middle school)?
- Do the school announcements include congratulations to children who participate in other events?
- Do other activities at your son's middle school give participation certificates?
- Was the event a competition (were awards given there)?
- Does the middle school emphasize intrinsic reward (the personal pride of representing the school) or extrinsic reward (certificates, announcements, newsletter stories)?
- Does the middle school have an "awards day" where certificates may be given?
- Are particular extracurricular activities emphasized by the school (such as sports)?

After reflecting on the school norms, you may wish to write a brief positive newsy article including facts of each regional concert and a quote from your son about what an honor it was to represent the school, the fine caliber of other students, possibly sharing something he learned/gained from the experience, that he encourages more students to practice-practice-practice (etc). You may wish to thank the person who nominated your son and say you are sharing follow-up information and granting them permission to use any parts of what you wrote, for inclusion in the school newsletter and for announcements. Gauge how the conversation goes. See what may be done "next time"... does the nominator or school official need to hear from you immediately after the event to incorporate information into an announcement and/or newsletter article? Again, this is learning the norms of the school, how their processes work... so you can manage your son's expectations and also collaborate with the school to enhance the process, or make it work for him.

Does the local newspaper seek positive stories of local youth? You might also submit your brief newsy article to them.

Quote:
From what he says, he seems to feel unvalued by the school, and that his achievement doesn’t matter to them. He is still sad. The concert was 2 months ago.
It's good when kids can articulate their feelings as your son has apparently done, rather than withdrawing or acting out. That said, you may wish to encourage him that middle school is different from elementary school, and talk about intrinsic reward (personal satisfaction for having participated in the regional events)?
Posted by: cee

Re: School didn't acknowledge child - 03/14/14 07:47 AM

I have talked to my son about the intrinsic pride and sense of achievement that one feels for accomplishments. How proud I am, and how his own pride is what matters also.

The reason he brought up the concert from 2 months back is because just last weekend, he performed in that other regional county concert, and once again, the school didn't mention it or congratulate him. Which made him remember how he felt after the first concert.

The school emphasizes sports mostly.

It is supposed to be an honor to represent your district in these orchestras. They are subgroups of NY association, followed by eastern states association. The paperwork and letters that the family receives say so. Then when your own school doesn't seem to really care, I don't blame my son for feeling how he does.

I am not trying to coddle him, and I know this is a balancing act between learning there aren't always external rewards, but also, the school doing right by their students.

If I write an article, I feel l am doing their job. Their is a music chairperson for the district. Shouldn't she be doing a write-up?

My son doesn't act out, and I am glad he expresses his feelings to me. I guess I'm disappointed in the school, and don't know if I should speak to someone, and who, or just keep quiet and accept it.
Posted by: aquinas

Re: School didn't acknowledge child - 03/14/14 08:02 AM

This might be an opportunity to shift the school's culture. Would your son be willing to perform a song from his concert repertoire for the student body? The increased awareness from witnessing him in action might generate some interest among other students who have no musical role models and increase demand gradually for a stronger music offering.
Posted by: indigo

Re: School didn't acknowledge child - 03/14/14 08:02 AM

Originally Posted By: cee
... the school doing right by their students... If I write an article, I feel l am doing their job. Their is a music chairperson for the district. Shouldn't she be doing a write-up?... I guess I'm disappointed in the school, and don't know if I should speak to someone, and who, or just keep quiet and accept it.
You may wish to learn school norms. If you speak to someone, you may wish to approach them in a way which may be seen as helpful within the local norms. A sense of moving forward, having things in perspective, positivity, and facts are often helpful. While in general there is good and bad in everything, a focus on negativity and disappointment may be seen as smacking the oobleck with a spoon and creating an unyielding solid... it works against advocacy.

Many families begin creating a "resume" or portfolio of their children's accomplishments, achievements, and extracurricular activities which may be fun to look back on and may also prove useful when writing essays, applying to other extracurricular programs, etc. Keeping a personal record of achievements can be a highly rewarding activity for a child.
Posted by: indigo

Re: School didn't acknowledge child - 03/14/14 08:05 AM

Originally Posted By: aquinas
This might be an opportunity to shift the school's culture. Would your son be willing to perform a song from his concert repertoire for the student body? The increased awareness from witnessing him in action might generate some interest among other students who have no musical role models and increase demand gradually for a stronger music offering.
Agreed. Within the school community this may be seen as "giving back" or investing in the student body... very positive... a form of leadership.
Posted by: Sweetie

Re: School didn't acknowledge child - 03/14/14 08:21 AM

Mainly our middle school recognizes things that the teachers are involved in...like they take a group of kids to state history fair contest (the step below the national day of history)...because they go and sponsor it and work for months with the kids on the projects they do make the announcements before they go to wish them luck and after they come back to say how proud we were to have them represent our school. Sports same thing. Leadership conferences, academic things, arts are all recognized....if they are something that is done through the school, district, state, region, officially. Usually the teacher sponsor/chaperone takes care of the write ups.

But if it is something the kids goes off and does something independently not associated with the school/school system...no recognition. I mean if a 14 year old got a part in a movie or made an Olympic team sure they would mention it. But my kid goes to swim meets not associated with school (middle school doesn't have a swim team) but with his club team and nobody cares. Some of his teachers inquire about his interest but just randomly.

So my take is if a teacher went with him it is his/her responsibility to write an announcement....if it wasn't school based, unless he was to appear on national tv and they were announcing for everyone to watch him, probably nothing to be expected unless you initiated it right before or after it happens.
Posted by: playandlearn

Re: School didn't acknowledge child - 03/14/14 09:13 AM

We have been used to such things for many years. In my mind, the school and the teachers don't really care because it has nothing to do with making THEM look good. My kids are very accomplished in a few areas and the school and most of the teachers have no idea. We have long stopped trying to tell them anything. The kids are well recognized by people who are involved in their activities (the local music circle, performing arts community, chess teams, etc) and that's enough. My kids are quite used to it. Recently a new music teacher at DS's school has been talking about "connecting music you do at school with music that you do outside of school" and has given DS some opportunities to perform at school. This is the anomaly, I tell ya.
Posted by: nicoledad

Re: School didn't acknowledge child - 03/14/14 11:03 AM

I think part of the difference is the change of schools and guessing more kids at the junior high. I think acknowledgement is different at a younger level. A funny (at least to me)story is my daughter is in 6th grade There was a parents get together at her future junior high. All the different departments heads were there. Afterwards if you had any questions you could talk to them. Guess which head had the longest line waiting to speak to him? The head of PE. Had no problem getting a chance to talk to the Math head.
Posted by: binip

Re: School didn't acknowledge child - 03/14/14 11:54 AM

From my perspective, it's not the school's job to make our kids feel good about themselves. They are there to provide a challenging environment and give children objective, normed feedback about their performance (how well are you doing compared to standards and your peers).

So I wouldn't write, because I don't agree that the school ought

"They were congratulated in morning announcements, and given certificates by principal."

That is unheard of here. Even in first grade, there is only one chance to get a certificate, and that's at the end of the year if you complete activities worth approximately 40-50 hours worth of work and several challenges (effort based, so everyone has to work equally hard, but you can start from any point--I love this part of it).

"From what he says, he seems to feel unvalued by the school, and that his achievement doesn’t matter to them."

It probably doesn't. He's special to his own family but not to the school. The school provides him with a service, and as far as I know that doesn't include making him feel proud. Pride is something you get from doing the right thing and overcoming adversity or challenging yourself, not from praise.

I agree with the others--this is a good lesson in finding intrinsic motivation and working on self-esteem that comes from accomplishment and not praise.
Posted by: nicoledad

Re: School didn't acknowledge child - 03/14/14 12:02 PM

I understand what you are saying but it should be done that way across the board. The cross country team for example should not be acknowledged. It sounds like things at this person school were acknowledged based on popularity.
Posted by: puffin

Re: School didn't acknowledge child - 03/14/14 12:17 PM

If they routinely acknowledge other stuff the odds are they just aren't aware and/or the kids in other activities have pushier parents. Our school gives lots of awards - sometimes too many I think.
Posted by: nicoledad

Re: School didn't acknowledge child - 03/14/14 12:24 PM

IMO anything related to school and/or school district they should be aware of.
Posted by: cee

Re: School didn't acknowledge child - 03/14/14 12:56 PM

Thanks for feedback everyone. I know it's not the school's job to make them feel good, but if the orchestra teacher gave him the nomination paperwork, and the sheet music, then the school IS involved. Like I said, these regional orchestras bring together the best kids from the area, all from the public/private schools they represent.

It's just a little disappointing, I guess, and agree it's a learning experience, that sometimes we will do our best, and achieve success, but not be recognized by certain people you think would notice. Agree 100% that motivation should be intrinsic, which you want to see begin to happen as children get older. Emotional learning :-)
Posted by: knute974

Re: School didn't acknowledge child - 03/14/14 01:16 PM

At our middle school, the band and orchestra directors make a point of acknowledging kids who get into all-county and other honor bands that they have to do paperwork for. They just put in a brief mention in the online newsletter. The kids also get acknowledged at the end of year school awards ceremony. No acknoweldgement for anything outside of the school even if it is more prestigious.

I have a kid who is extremely proficient at her instrument and loves to perform. She would rather die than perform in front of a bunch of her middle school peers at some kind of assembly that they have been forced to attend. She understands that most kids at her school outside of the band/orchestra program have no interest in hearing that type of music. I'd be cautious about encouraging a performance before the school. I could see it backfiring if the kids are not respectful/paying attention.
Posted by: geofizz

Re: School didn't acknowledge child - 03/14/14 01:24 PM

I have successfully affected change by asking the principal to acknowledge the winners of the spelling bee. My kids didn't participate at all and I had zero involvement with it, but I explained that it was important to acknowledge such achievements and show they are valued. He clearly got the hint, and now all such accomplishments they know about are applauded.