My older son qualified for the 1st grade Gifted & Talented program; something both of his parentsparticipated in. We were very excited because he earned his place due to his creativity and imaginative problem solving skills. It wasn't test scores nor teacher recommendation, but the traits we value most in our children.
Since the teacher is shared between multiple schools and my wife and I are both educators, we asked for parent-teacher conference outside of the normal scheduled time. We feel it is very important to meet our children's teachers face-to-face. Ms. Flood agreed to meet us, but the only available day was a Friday afternoon at 3:30. +1 in the awesome column for a Friday afternoon conference.
Our conference lasted nearly an hour because my wife and I were fascinated by everything Ms. Flood was saying. She tells us she threw out the curriculum because it didn't put enough emphasis on things like problem solving skills, collaboration, and creativity. Right now they are designing their own lunchboxes. They have to create blueprints, collect materials and physically build the entire thing. Nothing is "HARD" in her room; everything is a CHALLENGE. When someone is struggling, she has the other students help instead of the answer always coming from the teacher. The homework is to analyze things in their own world to see how they can be improved upon and have more creativity added to the design. These are engineering concepts the teacher is teaching them in FIRST GRADE! +2 in the awesome column.
I tell Ms. Flood about the science demos I had done that week for my son's class and told her it would be great to partner on something for the entire first grade. Since she has a background in science (that's right. An elementary person with a real science degree) she was very eager. Now we are going to create a STEM challenge night for parents and students that are going to involve a variety of engineering challenges throughout the school to emphasize everything that we both value.
My son has been very lucky in the teachers he has had over the past 2 years. They are caring and creative educators who always put students first. I know that won't always happen, but I am glad it has because he really loves going to school every day.