Oh my goodness are you folks smart! I just got an email from my cousin about my story and I decided to include my letter back to her here, following up on the conclusion of my story from this morning. So, here is what happened:
Well, I just got off the phone with the teacher. I actually called the principle first to ask his advice on how to approach it and he suggested I let him broach the subject with her and have her call me. I was hoping I could keep my emotions in check.
When she called, I greeted her warmly and told her I was so happy she called. I tried to say as much as I could without seeming like I was attacking her, but still make my point. She began by saying she had noticed a marked difference in my son's disposition this week - more sullen and depressed. I thought, "Great! This is my opportunity!" I told her I think I've narrowed down the reason for this change in behavior and told her about his perceptions when it comes to things in the classroom, "good kids/bad kids".
She listened and seemed truly shocked. (This teacher is about 60 years old with adult children and has only been teaching for about 6 years.) She said, "Okay, what is the plan? What is the solution to the problem?" I told her that the shaving cream thing is distracting and embarrassing for my son and on top of that allowing one of those same students to give the test creates a feeling that that student is above the others, like a teacher.
She said "Well, I'm not going to stop the shaving cream. That is a reward for those students." I told her that sometimes a reward for one group is perceived as a punishment for the others. We negotiated back and forth and eventually compromised. The shaving cream will stay, but those students will be moved to the rear corner of the classroom while the other students re-test. She also agreed to stop allowing students to test students.
So, I think we came to a good compromise and maybe she will think a little about how her choices can be perceived by little kids. Overall, I'm pretty happy. I guess we'll see how she treats him tomorrow.
I have a splitting headache from the stress of it, but it was non-confrontational and pretty friendly, though she didn't "get" all my points. It was a starting point and I have to remember that.
I felt so much better to read all your messages that backed me up and gave me strength!