The principal seems excellent. It sounds like they've made a lot of changes in the past few years and she seems very willing to listen to parent concerns and involve parents in the decision-making process for the school.
Gareth's teachers are trying to model their approach after the 5th grade classes (which are prepping kids for middle school, so basically modelling it after a middle-school approach). Instead of having one teacher for reading/language arts, math, science, and social studies they are having one of the teachers cover reading/language arts, one cover math, and one cover science/social studies. So Gareth has a homeroom teacher and class. He's with those kids for gym, arts, library. But he goes to another 3rd grade teacher for 4th grade math, in a class with kids from all three homerooms. And he goes to his homeroom teacher for reading (again, not necessarily his homeroom classmates), and to the third teacher for science. This works well because all of the teachers have expertise and interest in those particular fields. The woman covering science and social studies was a research biologist for years before becoming a teacher. She loves to incorporate her experiences from 8 trips to Antarctica into what they're covering.
I chatted at length with the math teacher. Sounds like, in addition to math, she's hoping to get the kids to work on their perseverance and on re-framing how they see certain tasks rather than just complaining that they're boring or too easy. Gareth was complaining that the work was boring because it was easy, but he'll be one of the first to take an easy route out as soon as the work gets challenging, so I'm excited that she seemed determined to make sure they all learn how to work hard now and put their best effort in. One of my biggest fears with him is that he'll breeze through elementary and even middle school and not have to learn how to work hard until he hits some class in high school and then flounder because of that. I definitely benefited from things not necessarily coming easily to me through elementary school.
All three teachers seem pleasant, eager to communicate and work with the parents, and excited to be with the kids. Gareth seems to have hit a stride with other kids. He hasn't mentioned anyone in particular or asked to play with anyone, so I'm not sure he's made friends yet, per se, but he makes it sound like he's at least interacting pleasantly with others in his class and is coming home happy.
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