01 June 2010

Classe B

Last week we attended an informational meeting at the Italian elementary school Young One will be attending starting in September.

It's was a normal introductory address from the principal to the parents and the kids, complete with a brief history of the school & its mission -- past and present, discussion of start dates and acceptable methods of tuition payment, distribution of supply lists (Where is my dictionary?), requests for clothing sizes for gym clothes (la tuta di ginnastica), and yet another tour of the premises for the kiddos.

Of course, there is always something, always at least one little thing that makes me go "Huh?  Is this happening? Really?" something so very different from what I am accustomed to in the American system.   This time it was the recitation of the class lists.  The principal started with the general "a lot of thought has gone into this & we will not change it except in dire circumstances," (or at least some version of that in Italian) and then proceeded to read the names of each kid in Classe B and then Classe A.  Division of classes is so incredibly controversial in the American elementary school on post that they are kept secret until the last possible moment & then posted overnight, certainly not read to an audience.  Requests for changes are generally not taken, unless, of course there are "dire circumstances," which inevitably there always seem to be.  Changes are few and are not granted lightly.  There are ways to get the teacher you want for your child, but you must be skilled in playing the game . . . but I digress from my story.

The recitation of classes caused a pit in my stomach because of the nearly 45 names, the few that I recognized were in the other class;  as soon as the principal finished, parents were at his post requesting changes. . . .and he did it -- just like that.  Even with the pit in my stomach I would not have asked for a change simply because not knowing anyone in the class is not a "dire circumstance" to me.  Even though I believe that she would benefit from the familiar faces initially, I also believe that she would quickly make new friends.  A mother of one of Young One's current classmates understands the benefits of our 2 kiddos being in the same class. She has no qualms.  In the time that the list was read and the end of the meeting, she found another mother of a boy in the crowd to agree to change classes & offered the principal a simple solution with a swap.  Viola.  Done.  Other deals were negotiated as well.

Young One in the Courtyard of the School
I am NOT responsible for this pose -- it's all Young One.
She is in love with Mary: "Everyone's Mommy."

This little class stays together, with the same teacher, for all years of elementary school (5, I think).  While it isn't the norm in the American system, "looping" is practiced in some schools in the States.  Cerrtainly there are a host of benefits and drawbacks to this.  I sure hope Young One and her teacher are able to gel.

Although I would never have done it, I am relieved that the other mother organized the swap.  She will keep me posted.  She is a busy-body and will let me know what's going on.  She'll know the gossip.  She'll share the information that I need, and the information that I really don't need.  She'll introduce me to the other moms & tell them that our children went to "Baby Club" together (everyone knows "Baby Club") & that will get me miles of credit in their eyes.  Hey, after knowing her for nearly five years, she even sent me the first text reminder the day of the meeting.    Starting all over as the stranger, the outsider, the Americana . . . was not something I was looking forward to at all.

The pit in my stomach?  Obviously, that was for me as much as it was for Young One.  As we left, Richard and I asked her what she thought, and Young One responded:  "It was so much better than I thought it could be."  You have no idea the relief that brings me.


  1. Don't worry Dana, they'll all be wishing they were you when the foreign language lessons start:)! And it's the teacher that makes the class, not the students! Baci!

  2. In some ways, I like this looping system because I think it gives the teachers more of an ownership feeling towards their students. The teacher knows your child and can help them over the years work on the things they need to be sucessful. However, on the other hand if your child or even you don't get along with the teacher it sucks cause you are stuck with that person for so long. I hated my sons teacher this year. (My oldest) She was a mean old hag who hated my child and was often mean to him. Though I didn't have him switched out of the class because all of his best friends were in the class. I am glad that you have a friend who is willing to help you navigate this season of your life. I hope your daughter loves her teacher and her class.

  3. I agree that the teacher is key. Keep your fingers crossed that she gets a teacher that understands her. She adores the nun that seems to run the show (not the principal). . . let's hope she has as much adoration for the teacher who has to handle 22 little ones all at the same time!