Aspen's teacher this year is the most inept I have ever had to deal with. She goes to a blue ribbon school (only 100 or so in the country) with the absolute best resources, student body, committed PTA and dedicated community. Yet the teacher we got stuck with this year seems to be as indifferent as they come. Keep in mind I was a grade school teacher before I became a father so I am speaking with a bit of knowledge on the subject.
A good teacher is able to recognize and work with the strengths and weaknesses of his/her students.

For example, Aspen's strength is reading. She is in 3rd grade but is reading at a 6.5 grade level. Her weakness is organization. She is fairly scatterbrained when it comes to remembering where she put assignments, to turn them in, when they are due, bringing materials from her main class to her GT class, etc.

On the nationalized tests she scores higher than the average kid in her district which scores higher than the national average itself. So she is no dim bulb by any means. But her class grades suffer because of her teacher's theoretical practices that make little sense and are endorsed by no teaching school of thought that I am aware of.

Let me illustrate: I used to volunteer every Wednesday in the class with little things to free up the teacher's time. I eventually became involved in designing the yearbook so my class volunteer time dropped off. But while I was logging class volunteer hours I noticed that the desks were in a different formation and Aspen (as well as all students) were always sitting in different locations and next to different kids than the week before.

The other practice I observed was that the teacher would hand out a packet and have the kids work on it for a few minutes then have them put it away then work on a something else for a while then go back to the packet later. This process repeats at least 2 or 3 times with each packet and often there is 3 - 4 packets the students are working on at a time! This, rather than simply giving the kids a solid 30 minutes to complete a packet in one sitting!

The results of such un-thought-out processes are umpteen opportunities for the students to misplace, get distracted from and lose trains of thought on the lessons. As for the constant classroom rearrangements, this keeps students from getting comfortable and familiar with their surroundings allowing them to perform better. There is no school of thought that promotes such a chaotic and random classroom setting.

Aspen more or less aces every question she answers on any test or packet. The problem is that frequently she only answers about 3/4 to as little as 1/2 of the questions because she runs out of time due to easily being distracted (not the teacher's fault per-se) and because she always has trouble relocating her packet after it was put away, because the teacher inexplicably moves the kids onto something else for a while (the teacher's fault per-se).

My point is that all of the students in her class would be accomplishing more by a more logically and smoothly run classroom with fewer distractions and interruptions throughout the day.

Find a seating chart for the classroom where the children do well and leave it that way! This is not an episode of Pimp My Classroom!

And when you hand out an assignment, give them an opportunity to do it! Have a game plan in place for the day where the kids aren't playing musical papers!

Oh yeah... enjoy the armadillo pics from here on out.