So then…she says, “He’s a very bright boy.”
She says, “And so creative!”
“And I’m so impressed that he’s only 7 and he types his spelling homework! Everyone else just handwrites their words.”
Oh. Hmm. Now I have an ethical dilemma. I shift on the miniature chair in Tucker’s classroom and examine his Second Grade teacher.
Should I just graciously accept the compliment – or reveal the reason that Tucker types his spelling homework?
So far, the Parent-Teacher conference has been going very well. She’s very complimentary, focusing on his virtues – “bright, creative, funny.” We both know he can also be “fidgety, chatty, and tardy with homework,” but I can tell she’s the sort of teacher who likes to put a positive spin on things.
To ease my conscience, I say, “Well, about that. You know how you give them 12 spelling words a week to alphabetize? Then they’re supposed to write each word three times so they can learn how to spell the words?”
“Yes,” she nods encouragingly.
My chair makes a tiny squeak as I shift my weight. I need to tell her my 7-year-old has recently gained access to a laptop.
“Well, um, Tucker figured out how to type the words into an Excel spreadsheet. Then he copies and pastes them two more times in the column. Then he hits ‘Sort’ so the words are automatically sorted into alphabetical order. Then he copies the words into a Word document and submits it for his homework.”
As I speak, her cheerful smile wavers and slowly disappears.
“Oh.” She looks uncertain.
I look contrite, awaiting judgment.
She concentrates. I can tell she’s trying to decide whether or not this constitutes an “unauthorized shortcut” (i.e. cheating) – or if this demonstrates Tucker’s “clever resourcefulness with technology.”
After a pause, she takes the high road. Smiling brightly, she says, “Well, at least he’s learning to spell the words as he types them in, so that’s the point of the task!”
I look down. “Well, um, he does hit ‘Spell Check’ before he prints the sheet.”
“Yeah,” I say to fill the silence.
A moment passes.
She sighs, then girds herself up for the final spin. “Well, he is certainly handy with a computer, isn’t he? What a bright, creative boy!”
I smile gratefully and exit into the bright sunshine.
— Darcy Perdu
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(Any funny moments you’d like to share from your Parent-Teacher Conferences? Has your kid found some impressive and/or questionable shortcuts for schoolwork? Any examples of your kids being too clever for their own good? Do tell! Share a Story or Comment below! I love to read them!)
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