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Classroom situation - "voting" on the problem child - update Post #18

post #1 of 35
Thread Starter 

UPDATE in post # 18

 

This is the situation my 8 yo daughter described to me today. 

 

After Gym another student asked for a Class Meeting. 

Teacher agreed and said we need to get to the bottom of these problems. 

Teacher asked kids to stand up and admit it if they were causing trouble. 

Handful of students stand up and describe how they are contributing to problems

(note: This is voluntary - not all students are asked to describe something they want to work on. I asked about this). 

Next - teacher asks students to VOTE out loud on who they think is the problem. All kids are only allowed 1 vote. 

One kid gets most of the votes, other kid gets a few votes. 

 

At some teacher tells the 2 kids with "votes" that they are "this far away" from taking a vacation which my DD (the kid with the most votes for apparently "worst kid in the class) takes to mean she will soon be expelled. 

 

Teacher has a color coded system. The first month of school she had maybe 6 yellow days out of 20. It's green, yellow, red, system. No red days. In the second month she had only 1 yellow behavior day. 

 

I'm flabbergasted that the teacher allowed this voting to occur out loud? What did she think this would accomplish? Why have there been no communication notes home to me and no further "red" days if DD is such a problem? And even more frightening - this situation sounds vaguely faniliarto me here at MDC. Is this some misguided anti-bullying rhetoric that is being taught? 


Edited by Ellien C - 11/14/11 at 6:26pm
post #2 of 35

I think the first part of the discussion sounds good and it could have been a great thing if the teacher had asked what they wanted the class to do to support them so they could get their self control back.  The voting was a shaming technique that borders on bullying.  As an adult and a teacher she should have the skills to redirect children's behavior without tearing down their sense of self worth.  I suggest sending the teacher and principal an e-mail stating what you heard about the vote, how it made your dd feel, why you think it was an awful thing to do, and what you hope will be done instead in the future. 

 

 

post #3 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by One_Girl View Post

The voting was a shaming technique that borders on bullying.  As an adult and a teacher she should have the skills to redirect children's behavior without tearing down their sense of self worth.  I suggest sending the teacher and principal an e-mail stating what you heard about the vote, how it made your dd feel, why you think it was an awful thing to do, and what you hope will be done instead in the future. 

 

 


Great post, I completely agree. I would bring the principal into the situation immediately, and I would also ask for conference within the next week. What happened is absolutely unacceptable.

post #4 of 35

Good plans above, I would also try and find out what other parents feel about this. When it happened in my school, I know I was MAD, and my daughter was not one of the ones "shamed". Get some back-up from other parents, even if you can only find one. This teacher should apologize to the class for setting up the situation like that. Not a well thought out lesson, IMO and the result is at least one devastated child.

 

Coming from the other side, my daughter was seven and was the part of the class who voted on the "three worst", and what she got out of it was that those were the "really bad kids, even the teachers thought so". When I went in to clarify with the counselor who ran the lesson, as I really had a hard time believing what my daughter said happened, the counselor basically reiterated my daughters version of the events. She then pointed out that "the new research states that bully's do not have low self-esteems" so she didn't see the problem with having the class gang up on them in a setting where they would just have to take it, since it was being moderated by teachers.

 

I was then told that "the research states that bullies will become anti-social personalities if left to continue, so they were really trying to nip it in the bud. This was in reference to second-graders in a military setting with parents deployed. No wonder some were acting up, and IMO this whole "gang-up on the bully and vote them out" trend is bullying also. One of the children in our situation was clearly developmentally delayed and much older than the other children. When she tried to stand up for herself, the counselor told her in front of the whole class (this was told to me by the counselor herself) that "all your neighbors feel the same way as well, your behavior is not just a problem in the class". Wow, I was horrified that the little girl was shamed that way in front of her peers--can you imagine?

 

Sorry again for your daughter's experience EllienC, you really need to get other parents to back you up as this is completely inappropriate to have happen. If there is a real problem with your child, the teacher needs to deal with her one-on-one, but it sounds like it may have been a popularity contest-gone wrong based on what the teacher has been telling you of her behavior. Horrible situation for your little girl, and I feel terribly for you both.

post #5 of 35

What the hell is the teacher thinking - that she is on "Survivor" show?

 

 

post #6 of 35

jaw.gif

 

Our school has a stop light system but a standard form is sent home for every yellow and red day, signed by the parent, and returned to the teacher. A secondary teacher (like gym) can request that the primary teacher put a child on yellow but the form still goes home. Students are never asked to comment on each others behavior or vote on itduh.gif. I would want a conference as well.

post #7 of 35
Thread Starter 

We have a parent-teacher conference today that was already scheduled. I emailed the teacher last night and asked her to "Tell me more about the class meeting today. From what _____ told me, I must be misunderstanding something." She hasn't written back yet. I also have a meeting scheduled with the principal where I wanted to talk about PE. That class in particular is NOT a good situation for DD. Gym teacher is old school, there is a lot of dodge ball, picking on kids and my DD whines and goes to the nurse whenever possible. Recently she was pushed or shoved and went again to the nurse and the pricnipal replied "It's always something with you, isnt' it?"

 

Well YEAH - if I had that PE experience and I found a way to get out of it, I would, too.

 

There are other situations where my daughter has been told she is "pathetic, (5th graders in after care), ugly (little boy in her class where she has a shared job with him involving unsupervised time together) and that she stinks (had to pull her out of Girls On the Run, due to the behavior issues there - nice huh?).

 

In addition to all of this, my daughter has an explosive personality and is very, very bossy. The less in control she feels, the more she wants to exert control over other people. So I'm not ignorant of how she might be contributing to the problems. In the first 3 situations, I approached the adults in charge and asked point blank if my dd was contributing to or provoking the behavior and they assured me that she was not. So she is both a victim at the school and also a perpetrator. Now, as far as I can tell, her style is simply to insist that other people play her game her way. Not good, but I don't believe she is one to use name calling or any kind of physical violence.

post #8 of 35

I think it is a good idea to have class time to talk problems in class through, but I do agree with the others. The voting is definitely taking it one step too far, especially the part where the teacher threatens your daughter (I perceive it as a threat) in front of the entire class. A teacher should NEVER EVER officially take sides in a class, since they should be above class politics and be a person whom ALL the kids in the class can trust.

 

I think the thing I react the most against is that children are not encouraged to give positive feedback to other children in the class. Such as "Sally helped me with my math" or "Moses shared an apple with me, since I had forgotten lunch money". I think that is as important to create an open, friendly, bully free environment as the owning up and shaming. Actually, more important, since it encourages children to do more good things.

post #9 of 35

I agree the vote was over the top. However, did it make your DD examine what it is about her behaviour that made so many of her classmates vote her the most troublesome?

post #10 of 35

Uh, she's 8.  She's learning about who she is.  Being told who she is by other 8 year olds isn't exactly the foundation we aspire for our kids.  What the teacher did was wrong, allowing the students vote on who the "worst" kid in the class is, is wrong.  It's disgusting! 

 

OP, I would take her out of that class. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by choli View Post

I agree the vote was over the top. However, did it make your DD examine what it is about her behaviour that made so many of her classmates vote her the most troublesome?



 

 

post #11 of 35

i dont consider being called names 'bullying'. it happens all the time. many of them are done innocently with no intent to hurt and yet the other person feels hurt. 

 

i absolutely dont agree with the teachers methods. 

 

every school, every class has their own problem student/s. they get poked and prodded all the time. it doesnt have to happen in such a shaming way. 

 

i'd definitely talk to teh teacher and principal. 

 

post #12 of 35
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by choli View Post

I agree the vote was over the top. However, did it make your DD examine what it is about her behaviour that made so many of her classmates vote her the most troublesome?



What it did was confirm in her mind that she has no friends, that she is not a good person, that she is "worse" than the other children who have called her pathetic, ugly and pushed and shoved her. What it did was make her not want to go to school, make her want to harm herself and make her think there is something very, very wrong with how her mind works. 

 

If we had wanted to engage in practices to change her behavior (which I have never once heard from the teacher that we needed to do and her lack of yellow/red days would indicate to me that this wasn't a problem) I might have suggested a series of "carrots and sticks." I might have suggested that she be given a praise note home when she was caught being good or given the teacher reward "beads" or something like that. I might have suggested that she and the teacher have a "code word" and when DD was getting too controlling and that the teacher do 3 things to call DD's attention to the behavior - 1) physically touch her on the arm, 2) look her in the eye 3) use the code word. But NONE of this has ever been brought to my attention and the classroom discipline structure indicated to me that there were no problems. She had 1 yellow day in the month of October (as opposed to 5-6 in Sept) and NO red days. 

 

post #13 of 35

I would not equate the color system with how other children perceive your daughter. My son had a child who was shoving & poking him, but his teacher said that the child was always on green (which DS also had told me). The teacher didn't see the problem behavior. DS was clear to us that the other child was "sneaky," so he would stay on green but really was a bully. Your daughter very likely is causing these problems and still remains mostly on green.

 

The vote was out of line, but there were times when I wish teachers had allowed us to speak openly about classroom problems. I don't think that "how can we help ___ control herself" is within the purview of other 2nd graders as someone above suggested. They cannot change your daughter's behavior, but I do think it's good that they have a voice to name it as a problem. What I think would have been more beneficial would be for the teacher to have said, "we're obviously having some conflicts that we need to address" and allowed the students to speak clearly and honestly. Sometimes (often times?) teachers don't know exactly what's going on. You said yourself that your daughter is explosive and very bossy. I can see a situation in which the other students individually are afraid to go to the teacher or to fight back against your daughter, but knowing that others suffer her wrath as well may very well help *them* to realize that they don't have to tolerate being bullied by your daughter.

 

As for the other problems...I think their seriousness varies. A fifth-grader calling a name is unfortunate but not exactly uncommon. If it was a one-time occurrence (which it sounded like), I would let it go as a bad decision by one kid on one day. If it continued, I would just let the adult in charge know so that s/he can deal with it. My children's school uses a PE program called SPARK (from the federal DOE) that addresses a lot of the problems with dodgeball and those types of PE programs. That's a big battle to fight but one worth pursuing. In the short-term, I'd work with my child on skills to get through PE because continuing to go to the nurse's office isn't going to work. Long-term, I would start the conversation to move toward a better PE program. Being called stinky in a sports club may be true. While it's not necessarily polite, it may not be "name-calling" so much as making your daughter aware that she smells. I would solve that problem by deodorant, different workout clothing, or other solutions that I seek for myself after working out.

post #14 of 35

Ellien, how did the conference go? If your daughter actually does have some issues, they should be looking for ways to teach and support these skills, not to practice public shaming. What overall philosophy does this school utilize? Is it public or private?

post #15 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ellien C View PostIn addition to all of this, my daughter has an explosive personality and is very, very bossy. The less in control she feels, the more she wants to exert control over other people. So I'm not ignorant of how she might be contributing to the problems. In the first 3 situations, I approached the adults in charge and asked point blank if my dd was contributing to or provoking the behavior and they assured me that she was not. So she is both a victim at the school and also a perpetrator. Now, as far as I can tell, her style is simply to insist that other people play her game her way. Not good, but I don't believe she is one to use name calling or any kind of physical violence.

 

Maybe it is time to do something more formal, like a 504.

 

Ds has a an ADHD diagnosis (possibly Asperger's as well) through private evaluations; he recently had an evaluation for special education services (non-academic) and was found to qualify for Speech Therapy. Though he does have some articulation issues with "s" and "z", his big speech issues are actually social reciprocity and pragmatics. I've also finally found a place that offers social skills groups, so I'm planning on that for the summer.

 

Quote:
If we had wanted to engage in practices to change her behavior (which I have never once heard from the teacher that we needed to do and her lack of yellow/red days would indicate to me that this wasn't a problem) I might have suggested a series of "carrots and sticks." I might have suggested that she be given a praise note home when she was caught being good or given the teacher reward "beads" or something like that. I might have suggested that she and the teacher have a "code word" and when DD was getting too controlling and that the teacher do 3 things to call DD's attention to the behavior - 1) physically touch her on the arm, 2) look her in the eye 3) use the code word. But NONE of this has ever been brought to my attention and the classroom discipline structure indicated to me that there were no problems. She had 1 yellow day in the month of October (as opposed to 5-6 in Sept) and NO red days.

 

This is something a 504 can be used for; getting everyone involved together at the same time and working out a written plan to deal with these issues. If the issue is that she is breaking "social rules" rather than classroom rules that may explain why it is not showing up on her behavior chart.

 

Quote:

Under IDEA/IEP, if your child has a disability that adversely affects educational performance, your child is entitled to an education that is designed to meet the child's unique needs and from which your child receives educational benefit.

 

A 504 is helping your child get the same education that everyone else is getting--more for a student that needs accommodations to help them learn (like sitting next to the teacher) or for behavior, and that they are not punished for things that they cannot control due to the ADHD (like needing to work standing up or not sit inside a group).

 

[A IEP or 504 is not an escalation or punishment for the teacher/school. It's more about getting all appropriate parties involved and on the same page. The student, parent/legal guardian, teachers, principals, Pupil Services administrators, support staff (i.e. nurse, counselor, psychologist, language/speech pathologist) as well as the student's physician or therapist may be involved in the placement process including the 504 meeting.]


Eligibility under IDEA for Other Health Impaired Children

Key Differences Between Section 504, the ADA, and the IDEA.

 


 

 

post #16 of 35

Hey I got some great advice on her about how to help my DD and when I spoke to the teacher she was willing to listen.  Maybe because she did truly care or maybe because I went in there on a mission.  I'm not a tactful person so I tried to be careful.  But you do need to do something.  You are her advocate!

post #17 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ellien C View Post



What it did was confirm in her mind that she has no friends, that she is not a good person, that she is "worse" than the other children who have called her pathetic, ugly and pushed and shoved her. What it did was make her not want to go to school, make her want to harm herself and make her think there is something very, very wrong with how her mind works. 



This is really really worrisome to me. I would definitely tell the teacher and principal about this. Your daughter is the victim of some pretty serious bullying and the teacher and the principal are reinforcing it. I would meet with the teacher and the principal as scheduled, but I would also start document the bullying and the school's response. It wouldn't take me too long to go to the district in this case.

 

I don't say this lightly: Is it possible to change schools? I know of two families where the kids were mercilessly bullied and changing schools really helped them 'start over'. In one case, they changed form one public school to another (the school district allowed it because the parents had a good documented case that the school was not addressing the problem adequately) and in the other case, the family switched from private to public school. In both cases it was a good thing all around.

post #18 of 35
Thread Starter 

We met with the teacher on Thursday and the principal on Friday. Both meetings had been pre-scheduled since it's end of quarter.

 

I was very open ended with the teacher and asked her to "Tell me about the class meeting." It's still not clear to me what happened but here's a brief outline.

This is what teacher told me:

After PE another student called a class meeting. (My general impression of PE is that the teacher has littel control over the class and that it's a VERY poorly run program full of dodgeball, relay races, kickball and students-on-display where you have to demonstrate a skill in front of the whole class where they are all either laughing at the kid on display or punching their neighbor or name calling. Meeting with principal was to discuss the PE curriculum and how the classes were run).

During the class meeting students were asked to stand up and discuss how they were contributing to the problems with the class. About 12 students out of 23 stood up.

They all talked about the problems in the class. The counselor then came in and took over because she has been scheduled to talk to the class ahead of time. Then they all went to lunch.

(There was more in there but these are the facts.).

 

I then asked if there was a class vote? Did the students vote on something?

Teacher said yes, during the meeting there were 2 students left standing (It's unclear to me why some students were able to sit down and why 2 remained). My daughter remained standing. The teacher asked the students to go around the room the name the child with "the most problems with name calling, or bullying or not following the rules or..or... or.,..... (she listed like the paragraph long thing - even *I* didn't know what the vote was all about and I was there asking about it. We confirmed that DD had the most votes for whatever this was.

 

I then asked the teacher what outcome she was expecting from the vote. She told me that students need a say in how their classroom runs and voting gives them that voice.

 

I then asked if it was OK to share with her what my child got out of the vote. Then I shared with her essentially what I wrote in post # 12 above.

At this point teacher gets very, very defensive and says that's not her intent. That wasn't what she meant at all. She never meant for it to be like that etc, etc. She starts talking again really fast. I then asked her again to tell me what it was the students voted on and she goes into this long, long thing full of the person who has the most trouble with..... and then she must have listed 10 things.

 

I then shared with her that I'm not sure the students really understood what they were voting on and perhaps they just named the name the person before them did - kind of like a peer pressure situation. I then told her that a few of the girls who voted for my DD later apologized to her.

 

And that was pretty much the whole 20 minutes. We discussed her report card in the beginning which only said that DD needs to work on co-operating with others. Everything else was pretty much check plus.

 

DH and I still need to schedule another meeting with the teacher to finish the conference since was ran out of time.

 

There is one boy in her class that she continues to have problems with and has for the past 3 years. I discussed him specifically with the teacher a few weeks ago. This boy is physically aggressive and verbally insults my DD - he calls her "an ugly little girl." DD is the minority race in her school so this is really getting to her. Bascially the teacher said he was a real "boys boy" and particularly hated taking direction from girls. And that was the cause of the issues between the 2 of them. This boy's behavior is on red 2-3x a week (including the day of the vote. DH noted that DD was on green that day).

 

I found out from DD also that she had a "shared job" with the boy where they both took the lunch basket down to the cafeteria together. This is minimally supervised. The 2 students go ahead of the teacher. DDs says the teacher told the 2 of them to carry the lunch basket together. Boy's boy asked DD if he could carry it by himself. DD said no - we're supposed to share. At the stairs Boys Boy again asked if he could carry it down the stairs. DD said no - we're supposed to carry it together. Boys Boy then gets mad and says "But I asked nicely!" At this point some other teacher intervenes and tells them to carry the basket together. At the bottom the stairs, boys boy gets mad and shoves the lunch basket and DD against the wall. Other teacher witnesses this - sends DD to the nurse. Nurse isn't there so other teacher brings DD back to classroom where she has lunch with teacher. Boys Boy has lost his job carrying lunches.

 

I hear about this when DD comes home from school. I'm a)Shocked that she is STILL in unsupervised or lightly supervised situations with this kid and B) stunned that no parent communication note was sent home.

 

When I asked teacher about this as well, she said it was her mistake to have kept them on this job together, but she says they'd had no problems in the past 2 weeks (Well yeah - DD's gets called an ugly little girl by this kid daily, she's stopped reporting it). When I asked teacher if she had asked DD direclty if there were problems, teacher responded that DD hadn't said anything (meaning DD hadn't volunteered anything). When I asked hwy we hadn't been notified of the incident by the school, teacher said the nurse didn't call us because it wasn't serious. In fact, nurse wasn't there.

 

This all took place in the parent-teacher conference. We met with the principal the next morning where we discussed the Gym class - NASPE position statement on Dodgeball and the PE Hall of Shame form JOPPHERD publication - dated 1992-1996 and why was this still going on in our gym class. I had a number of professional PE teacher documents for principal. Principal was very good and said not a word. He just listened.

 

We then went on to the class vote, which he obviously knew nothing about. DH and I reiterated that under no circumstances should students be voting on other students unless it was to elect class rep. DH shared the Florida case with the principal where the teacher had the students vote the Autistic kid out of the classroom for the day and was awareded $350,000 in settlement money. Principal reiterated that he would find out from teacher what happened, there wouldn't be any more votes FOR student with the most problems and he'd put "eyeballs" on the gym situation.

 

Still not certain what we might do. DH and I are huge public school supporters (and principals kids go to the school) but I just don't know. I've got one in day care full-time right now so there's not really any money for private. But clearly this can't continue.

post #19 of 35

I was curious how old the teacher is. She sounds like someone that reads strategies in journals but has very, very little actual life or teaching experience. MOre later. Have to go tuck in.

post #20 of 35

Can you have her moved from the class?  A friend of mine did this.  They actually told the principle she had 2 days to find her a new class and kept her out until she was moved.  The teacher was horrendous!

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