According to the Miriam-Webster dictionary, an annotation is "a note added by way of comment or explanation." Sounds harmless and innocuous, right? But in Chilean schools, we have discovered a whole new meaning to this word!
I first heard the terms "anotacion negativa" and "anotacion positiva" during a class meeting for one of our girls.
I observed parents huddled nervously around a big burgundy book as the meeting ended. Curious, I asked another mom what all the fuss was about. She explained that students can receive both positive and negative annotations throughout the school year. They are written down on each student's page in the "big burgundy book" (as I like to call it.)
My next question was, what purpose does this serve? She said that the annotations remain in the child's permanent school records and should the child's parents wish to place him in another school in the future, that establishment may take the annotations into consideration when deciding whether to accept him or her as a prospective student.
However, the most ironic revelation to me as a parent was this: The school never formally advises the parents when their child receives an annotation, whether positive or negative. Which leads me to scratch my head and wonder, how are we supposed to support the school's efforts and encourage better behavior in our children if we are never told there is a problem in the first place?
So it happened that yesterday I had a meeting with Owen's English teacher to discuss an incident which occurred a few weeks ago. Apparently my son and his cronies caused a distraction in class one day. Apparently they forgot they were supposed to be studying English and deciding to try fencing instead! Apparently they were sword fighting with rulers at the front of the classroom and throwing themselves on the floor (in throes of dying agony, I can only assume??) while the poor teacher vainly attempted to teach her lesson. In exasperation she finally called upon the "inspector" to extract several of the boys from the classroom and escort them to the office, Owen included.
Wait just a minute. Am I really supposed to believe that this angelic toddler could create such a ruckus in first grade??
Okay, maybe I am. :)
In fact, if the entries on Owen's page in the big burgundy book are to be believed his first-grade antics may not be so far removed from the picture above as one might expect. Let's see ... pacifiers over his eyeballs versus pencils in his ears ... yes, one of the annotation did say that Owen likes to stick pencils in his ears to cause amusement in his classmates and interrupt the class with their laughter!
Another annotation described this incident: "The student arrived tired this morning and was sent to the bathroom to wet his face. He returned very wet all over, making the other students laugh and disrupting the teaching time ..."
Did she mean something like this?? (For the record, Owen had a major drool problem during his baby years!)
In all seriousness, as teachers ourselves we understand the difficulty of trying to control a classroom when there is a clown in the front row. And now we understand that apparently we are the ones staffing the circus! :) But I could not help but laugh out loud as I read through the annotations because each one was an anecdote of a day in the life of our first-grade son. (In fact, I really want to get a photocopy of that page for Owen's scrapbook!) Nonetheless I apologized to the teacher and assured her I would not be laughing when I spoke firmly to my son on the issue at home.
She in turn warmly assured me that Owen is a delightful boy, much loved by teachers and staff and peers and older students alike. In fact, she admitted the amount of spoiling he receives from everyone probably contributes to his antics! She also insisted that he is respectful and kind and that he is obviously receiving a good foundation at home. He is just ... inquieto! (restless!) and desordenado! (chaotic!)
Which I have to admit ... on some days ...
That's exactly why we love him.