Monday, we discussed the starting of Jake’s Sophomore year at school.
His big concern, in fact his only concern, was about Outdoor PE. He hated the idea of having gym class outside, especially on wet or cold days. He had asked us if he could change it, and we told him if he wanted to speak with the guidance counselor and see if a change could be made.
Well, I sent an email to the guidance counselor warning him that Jake was working up the courage to come speak with him. I told him the scenario, and tried to impress upon him that I didn’t care what the outcome was – the important part was that Jake take initiative and advocate for himself. The GC responded by saying that Jake’s instructor had already given him a head’s up that Jake wasn’t happy and would like to change. The teacher said it would be fine as Jake hasn’t yet had the necessary math instruction needed to make orienteering and the like very understandable. The GC had even looked at Jake’s schedule, and thought the switch could be accommodated. This was potentially going to be a sticking point, as the same instructor teaches both classes.
I warned the GC not to be too easy on Jake, but to still give him a chance to speak for himself, and ask Jacob whatever questions he would ask another student. He agreed.
When the day came (yesterday), Jake stopped by with his Special Educator when the GC was out of the building on a school errand. Jake left his one-on-one at the door and spoke with Mrs. T. Mrs. T got the full story from Jake and was able to switch him out of Outdoor PE and into Indoor PE. He only had to move when he was taught Spanish. Success!
When I came home from work yesterday, I was greeted at the door by a very excited Jacob, holding his new schedule in my face. “Dad, look at this” he said. Oh yeah, he calls me Dad now. I told him I’d seen his schedule before. “Look closer!” he demanded. I peered closely and asked him what I was looking for. That’s when he explained that he was “no longer” (his phrase) in Outdoor PE, and that he had gone to the guidance counselor’s office and spoken with Mrs. T and got things moved. All on his own.
We had done a bit of pre-teaching as to what he might say to the GC, and that things may not go his way. I can’t stress how important this piece is. Laying a game plan out for Jake, and then discussing possible outcomes can really take the mystery and fear out of such a “confrontation.” He was at first concerned that the GC would be disappointed or mad at him. Had we not taken some time to dig deeper, we may never have figured out that his biggest fear was unfounded.
So the moral of the story is – wait – I guess there is no moral; just that nothing really changes after all. Pre-planning, pre-teaching, and pre-gaming have always been part of parenting kids like Jake. The complexity of the task is the only real variable.
This time it was a win-win. He was his own advocate, and he got what he wanted. You can’t ask for anything beyond that.
Also, thanks for the recent comments, and the well-wishes and kind words on Facebook. I really appreciate the engagement.