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i think we have a bad teacher

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 

my dd is 2nd grade.

 

her teacher gives over 30 spelling words a week.  once it was 37!!!

 

we are so frustrated, dd works hard, but between relaxing after school, dinner, and extra curricular activities, learning 30+ words a week is tough.

 

This past week one of the words was surprise.  DD spelled it surprise, and her teacher marked it wrong.  Teacher spelled it 'correctly' as suprise next to DD's spelling.

 

I wrote a note to the teacher, saying that it is actually surprise.  Teacher called me from school to say, she had made a mistake and left out the R, but that my DD still misspelled it, as DD put 3 Rs in it.  I said, really, I thought she spelled it right

 

I got the test when DD came home, and, yep, DD spelled it right.  irked.gif   

 

The kids all did poorly, so teacher let them retake the test.  DD got a 99 this time.  Teacher took off 1 point for handwriting.  I think she just did not want to give DD a 100 since I have questioned her.  (I also emailed and said 37 spelling words was a lot and we were having problems with that)

 

I no longer want to contact the teacher because I am afraid it will negatively affect my DD.  The other 2nd grade teachers give 15 words a week (per other parents).  

post #2 of 33
15 words seems too much to me! We had only 10 when I was growing up! And I would show the teacher's mistake to the principal, if this is not an isolated incident. Teachers giving out incorrect information or picking on a student is wrong and should not be tolerated.
post #3 of 33
I teach grade 5 and I give 5/week.....30 + is crazy! My students had a hard enough time with 5....makes me wonder what list she is getting the words from. I also don't see the point in testing kids on words they can already spell. Seems redundant. My kids have a list at their grade, and once they can spell all of those words I take words that are misspelled from their writing and they become their weekly spelling words. Its more work for me because they are all working on different words, but makes more sense for them because they are learning to spell words they are having trouble with. Also I would be so embarrassed to have marked the student wrong, I would have just apologized and moved on. Teachers make mistakes too, but I don't think she handled it very well.
post #4 of 33

Ooh, I would really resist the temptation to create a category in your mind for "bad" teachers and try to decide whether your dd's teacher fits in there. It's a simplistic and uncharitable approach to a job that is full of trial-and-error, judgment calls, creativity, responding to individual circumstances and plagued by crowd management and administrative constraints. I've been primarily a homeschooling parent for the past 15 years, but even I would urge you to cut the teacher a lot of slack and keep and open mind. 

 

Your dd's mark on a 2nd grade spelling test is not going to matter in the long run. There are myriad reasons why the teacher might not have wanted to give her a perfect 100 that have nothing to do with her wanting to punish you for questioning her. eg. leaving room to show improvement as the year progresses, drawing your dd's attention to the importance of readability in her work, trying to motivate the strongest students to continue to strive to perform at higher and higher levels. I don't think it serves anyone well to assume her motive is the most childish and negative of all possible ones.

 

I agree that the teacher's mis-spelling needed to be addressed. I would likely have addressed it privately with my child, as a way of helping her appreciate that even adults make mistakes sometimes. But I can see a case, for the benefit of other children, for pointing the error out to the teacher too. And I can see how it would have been seriously embarrassing for the teacher, and why her reflex may have been to kind of cover her tracks and gloss over the whole incident. I would have expected a bit of that, and allowed her to save face without seeing it as a big deal. She was probably privately mortified at being called out on a 2nd grade spelling word. 

 

I don't believe in spelling lists at all. Despite a lot of looking for research and asking around in education circles, I've never seen any evidence that weekly spelling lists and weekly spelling tests do anything to improve children's spelling faster than their growing literacy would naturally improve it. Typically the diligent kids memorize the spellings well for the test, but most of what they memorized is lost within a week or so and their spelling of those same words in other contexts quickly regains the old inaccuracies. Spelling tends to gradually improve as kids gain reading experience. Kids whose spelling doesn't gradually improve in this way need a different form of teaching: more systematic learning of the basic rules of English spelling, and encouragement to use tech tools to identify and/or correct their mis-spellings.

 

So if my kid were being given 37 spelling words a week, I would just help her spend a bit of time on them in order to do lip-service to the studying expectations of the teacher and not worry particularly about the results of the test. If I were going to take the teacher to task on the number of words requiring too much work, I'd really have to also take her to task on the whole idea of spelling lists. And I know that's a battle I'd never win: spelling lists are an entrenched institution of primary schooling.

 

School works the way it does, and a lot of what happens there isn't directly correlated with learning. As a parent who now has three of her four kids in school after all these years of having complete control over their educational environment, my strategy is to focus on the positive things about school, and not sweat the other stuff that goes along with it ... the grades, the time spent on useless (to my kid) administrative stuff or excessive (to my kid) review or pointless (to my kid) alternative learning strategies, the hoop-jumping, the weird requirements for pre-requisites, the honour roll garbage, all that other stuff that doesn't necessarily serve my child. My kids are in school because on balance they're getting good stuff from the experience. If there's some stuff that is silly or pointless, unless it's really excruciating, or unless it's in unyielding conflict with their learning, I encourage them to just shrug and get over it. I'd rather not risk undermining my child's or my attitude towards the teacher over small stuff like a 99 that could have been a 100.

 

You've only mentioning the spelling test issue in your post. Perhaps that was just one small example, and there's a lot of other stuff that is creating a truly excruciating, untenable situation for your dd. It's impossible for me to know. But if it's just one of a few niggling little incidents, I'd encourage you to not sweat the small stuff and instead keep the big picture in view: what are the good things that your dd can take from her experience in this 2nd grade classroom? Focus on an optimistic, empowered view of her learning that takes the best from school and leaves the rest.

 

Cheers!

Miranda

post #5 of 33

my child at grade 2 had 10 words plus 2 bonus words, which were always harder and related to something going on in the classroom. In grade 3 it was 10 words plus 1 bonus word.

post #6 of 33
My dd has 20 and is on fourth. It just changed this year from ten. The district may have guidelines for how much time homework should take up. Our district has a ten minutes per grade cap. I suggest calling the principal to see and expressing your concern about the high number of words for this age group to memorize.
post #7 of 33

In 2nd grade our oldest had either 20+10 bonus words or 50 easier words. Schools now take things like participation into account on the grade so spending a small amount of time on spelling words might not change the overall grade much. 

post #8 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by elus0814 View Post

In 2nd grade our oldest had either 20+10 bonus words or 50 easier words. Schools now take things like participation into account on the grade so spending a small amount of time on spelling words might not change the overall grade much. 

Participation being considered for part of the grade concerns me! It is not quantifiable! It allows the teacher to, either deliberately or subconsciously, give better grades than actually deserved to favorite students.
post #9 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by One_Girl View Post

I suggest calling the principal to see and expressing your concern about the high number of words for this age group to memorize.

 

I agree. I'd also pass along that she incorrectly marked a spelling word.

 

The teacher is out of line.

post #10 of 33

my DD is in a Spanish immersion program for grade school, is in 1st grade, and getting about 15 spelling words a week. only HERE there is an inherent value to spelling words, as it reinforces the Spanish language syllable sounds. Spanish is extremely phonetic. what you "hear" is what you "write." 

 

i was GOING to start giving her English spelling words at home (since they aren't doing English at school) to supplement her learning, but after reading the (above) reflection on the relative value of spelling words, i think i will just spend the time instead on her reading. and not push the spelling. English language spelling is so much about memorizing particular words. 

 

i have to admit, i made it into GRADUATE SCHOOL in journalism before i ever realized that surprise has the first "r" in it. i think i was just lazy in that way, and somehow got away with it for SOOOOO long. i don't know how that happened, but it wasn't the only word i didn't spell correctly. nowadays as an adult, i am more careful about spelling because of how it makes you appear to others (i.e., the teachers "surprise" at being called out on the misspelling of surprise).

 

there is A LOT to be said for finding a way to get along with your kid's teacher. 

 

grades in grade school don't matter so much as it does whether your child enjoys school and is learning every day. your child's acceptance into middle school is pretty much guaranteed.

 

and there is something to be said for the teacher who pushes her students to do more than other teachers do. it might give your child an advantage down the road. 

 

ps: i use a dry erase board with my DD for her spelling words. we get the words on mondays, and the spelling tests are on fridays. on mon-tues-wed-thurs night, i read each word to her and she spells it on her dry erase board. if she makes a mistake, i call her on it right then and there. if she forgets an accent mark (it's Spanish), i remind her. this gives her four times of practice, and the experience of writing out the words. seems to be working, she usually does well on the spelling tests...

post #11 of 33
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tropicana View Post

 your child's acceptance into middle school is pretty much guaranteed.

 

LOL!!

 

I agree, I want to get along with this teacher more than go to the principal...  Im mostly concerned with my DD liking school, not as much with her grades...  (since it is only 2nd grade, and like you said, middle school acceptance is pretty much 100%

 

It concerns me because

1- DD spends a ton of time on the words, and if she gets a bad grade is upset.  We have told her grades do not matter, just how hard she tries, but its still upsetting for her

 

2- I would not have a problem with a mistake (ie, surprise) but I do have a problem when she was not truthful and said my kid still put 3 Rs in there.   I thought it was wierd that she actually called me from school to say that my kid misspelled it.  Why not send a note home.  When my kid brought the test home, the 1st thing i did was look at the word, and yep, it was spelled correctly. 

 

3- She does not teach.  She gives the kids worksheets and tells them to complete them.  My DD has asked for help and been told no.  DD ends up coming home with worksheets marked 50%, 40%, etc and I ask her what went wrong, does she not understand, and she says, no, the teacher would not explain what the concept means.  I end up essentially homeschooling my child for 2 hours a night because the teacher does not teach.   She says that the teacher spends the majority of her time on the computer, and gives the kids worksheets to do all day.

 

I think my best option now is to ride with it and help my kid at home, and tell her just to try her best.  Apparently other parents have complained about the excessive homework (spelling words plus there was just a ton of other homework that she was assigning in the beginning that teacher told me other parents complained about.

post #12 of 33
Should a bad teacher be allowed to collect a paycheck for assigning worksheets and looking at a computer? That would bother me greatly. It's your tax dollars being spent on that.
post #13 of 33
Never mind. I just read your updated post. I have nothing to offer. 
post #14 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by lauriebeth View Post
I think my best option now is to ride with it and help my kid at home, and tell her just to try her best.  Apparently other parents have complained about the excessive homework (spelling words plus there was just a ton of other homework that she was assigning in the beginning that teacher told me other parents complained about.

 

It sounds like you're in a tough situation.

 

I would tend to put a slightly different spin on things when de-emphasizing the grades. I wouldn't say "Just do your best," which to me implies giving all the effort you can muster but accepting that you may not achieve your goal. Instead I'd say "Make a reasonable effort, and then let it be." To me that implies balance. We are learning all the time, and it's important not to become compulsively focused on a particular type of shallow learning (i.e. memorization of lists for school grades). Time and effort should be balanced in one's life, and granting spelling tests too much importance upsets that balance and leads to stress and frustration. 

 

Miranda

post #15 of 33
This situation is the type you really should go to the principal about. Two hours a night of work and you doing most of the teaching is ridiculous. A change of teacher might be possible or closer oversight to ensure this teacher is actually planning and implementing appropriate lessons with some sort of formal or informal assessment method to determine whether kids are learning or not.
A bad year is hard to recover from so riding it out is something I strongly suggest you don't do.
post #16 of 33

Before going to the principal, I think you should definitely schedule a conference with teacher. Talk about the homework load. Talk about the spelling list taking too much time. Talk about your dd's comment that she doesn't feel she's getting helpful explanations about her errors. Ask about her approach, her perception, her plans. Explain to her that your dd does not understand why her answers are marked wrong. Get the other side of the story. 

 

It's not that children fib or exaggerate intentionally, it's that a single or occasional incident can have a lot of significance for the child for some reason, and that significance influences the way they share information. Ask a typical fourth-grader what he did at school today and he'll say "nothing," or "I don't remember." Perhaps your dd once asked for help during a diagnostic math quiz and was told "I can't help you with this: you need to try to figure it out on your own" and generalized from that that all requests for help would be denied. Perhaps the teacher uses software to individualize worksheets for students who are at a variety of levels. It may be that she's teaching in a constructivist, discovery-based fashion, and it's missing the mark with your dd, who has a different learning style. Or it may be that she's a lazy incompetent who relies on canned worksheets so that she can spend classroom time on Facebook. You can't really know based on what you've heard from your dd.

 

So I think it's really unfair to go to the principal without discussing your concerns with the teacher and getting her perspective on it all. That should be your first step. If she stonewalls you, or if she agrees to make some changes but doesn't follow through, or offers no helpful explanations, then by all means approaching the principal should be your next step.

 

Miranda

post #17 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by lauriebeth View Post

LOL!!


3- She does not teach.  She gives the kids worksheets and tells them to complete them.  My DD has asked for help and been told no.  DD ends up coming home with worksheets marked 50%, 40%, etc and I ask her what went wrong, does she not understand, and she says, no, the teacher would not explain what the concept means.  I end up essentially homeschooling my child for 2 hours a night because the teacher does not teach.   She says that the teacher spends the majority of her time on the computer, and gives the kids worksheets to do all day.

I think my best option now is to ride with it and help my kid at home, and tell her just to try her best.  Apparently other parents have complained about the excessive homework (spelling words plus there was just a ton of other homework that she was assigning in the beginning that teacher told me other parents complained about.

Have you talked to the teacher about her getting low marks on these worksheets? How do you know she isn't teaching? Just based on what your DD is saying? Or based on other parent comments? It really is a pet peeve of mine when parents bad mouth a teacher without going to them first...because the problem never ever gets solved! Plus, it makes your opinion of the teacher worse without giving them the opportunity t explain themselves or their reasoning. You saying you'll ride it out just means you will be annoyed for the rest of the year, and you already have the beginnings of a poor relationship because you are saying she is a bad teacher, she doesn't teach etc.

Also to the poster who suggested she go right to the principal, why would you do that when you haven't even expressed concern over the amount of homework being given? Why not bring your concerns directly to the teacher, and give her a chance to work with the parent, rather than going right to her superior to try to get her in trouble?
post #18 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by kristah1000 View Post

Have you talked to the teacher about her getting low marks on these worksheets? How do you know she isn't teaching? Just based on what your DD is saying? Or based on other parent comments? It really is a pet peeve of mine when parents bad mouth a teacher without going to them first...because the problem never ever gets solved! Plus, it makes your opinion of the teacher worse without giving them the opportunity t explain themselves or their reasoning. You saying you'll ride it out just means you will be annoyed for the rest of the year, and you already have the beginnings of a poor relationship because you are saying she is a bad teacher, she doesn't teach etc.
Also to the poster who suggested she go right to the principal, why would you do that when you haven't even expressed concern over the amount of homework being given? Why not bring your concerns directly to the teacher, and give her a chance to work with the parent, rather than going right to her superior to try to get her in trouble?

Why not go to the principal? It's not about getting her in trouble as much as it is getting a quick resolution.

And why should teachers be protected? I worked as a computer programmer for 8.5 years before having my son. I was responsible for various systems that calculated and reported agent compensation at a life insurance company. If there was a problem, agents called customer service or their sales department representative. That person sent an e-mail notifying twenty other people, including me, my manager and my manager's manager. So higher ups were guaranteed to know whenever there was an error. Not to make me look bad, but what if I called in sick. Someone else had to be assigned. If I could handle that kind of scrutiny, why can't a teacher?

Principals need to know if new teachers tend to be overzealous with homework assignments, or burnt out teachers stop giving any. It's their job to help the teachers, only taking disciplinary action when advice fails, and firing as a last resort.

And just like the agents who want to get paid in a timely manner, parents have the right, and responsibility, to make sure their children receive a quality education.
post #19 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by pek64 View Post

Why not go to the principal? It's not about getting her in trouble as much as it is getting a quick resolution.
And why should teachers be protected? I worked as a computer programmer for 8.5 years before having my son. I was responsible for various systems that calculated and reported agent compensation at a life insurance company. If there was a problem, agents called customer service or their sales department representative. That person sent an e-mail notifying twenty other people, including me, my manager and my manager's manager. So higher ups were guaranteed to know whenever there was an error. Not to make me look bad, but what if I called in sick. Someone else had to be assigned. If I could handle that kind of scrutiny, why can't a teacher?
Principals need to know if new teachers tend to be overzealous with homework assignments, or burnt out teachers stop giving any. It's their job to help the teachers, only taking disciplinary action when advice fails, and firing as a last resort.
And just like the agents who want to get paid in a timely manner, parents have the right, and responsibility, to make sure their children receive a quality education.

It's not so much for her protection, as it is to maintain a good relationship with the teacher. I agree that the amount of homework is not reasonable. If it were my DD, I would absolutely be calling her and making my concerns known. I know if a parent contacted my principal regarding homework issues, and the parent had not yet spoken to me about it, they would be first directed to do so. If the issue didn't get resolved, then by all means the principal should deal with it. Just saying the relationship with your child's teacher certainly won't be getting any better if you go over her head. She might not be such an unreasonable person, and the OP mentioned that after other parent complaints she had originally changed the amount of homework earlier in the year. She might do it again if the OP expressed concern.

Also regarding a quality education I don't know how it works in other school districts, but in mine I am reviewed every year, formally observed usually monthly, have to submit lesson plans and unit plans and have goal meetings with my principal every 3 months - all part of regular protocol so the principal knows what's going on. That's not including pop in visits where she might just walk through my room quickly. Where I am this isn't a profession where you are hired and then left alone to do your job. I'm not saying there aren't bad teachers out there, however I would say that the majority of my colleagues are in fact very good teachers.

This is an issue that can be resolved really easily if the teacher is willing to listen to the parent, and if the parent goes into the conversation in a civil way out of concern rather than with guns blazing accusing her of not teaching etc. the OP can do whatever she wants, I am just trying to offer a different perspective by saying she isn't doing her relationship with her child's teacher any favors by going directly to the principal...and it's only November, could make for a really long year.
post #20 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by pek64 View Post


Why not go to the principal? It's not about getting her in trouble as much as it is getting a quick resolution.
And why should teachers be protected? I worked as a computer programmer for 8.5 years before having my son. I was responsible for various systems that calculated and reported agent compensation at a life insurance company. If there was a problem, agents called customer service or their sales department representative. That person sent an e-mail notifying twenty other people, including me, my manager and my manager's manager. So higher ups were guaranteed to know whenever there was an error. Not to make me look bad, but what if I called in sick. Someone else had to be assigned. If I could handle that kind of scrutiny, why can't a teacher?
Principals need to know if new teachers tend to be overzealous with homework assignments, or burnt out teachers stop giving any. It's their job to help the teachers, only taking disciplinary action when advice fails, and firing as a last resort.
And just like the agents who want to get paid in a timely manner, parents have the right, and responsibility, to make sure their children receive a quality education.

 

I taught high school before quitting to stay home with my kids. The reason you go to the teacher first is the principal is not going to get involved until you have a series of meetings with the teacher. It is simply not protocol in school districts for the principal to get involved first. The principal is kind of busy and often has hundreds or thousands of students and anywhere from 10 to hundreds of teachers. Principals cannot be the first line of conflict resolution. They just can't. There isn't enough time in the day.

 

That said, that homework policy is abusive and I would be printing out research about the harmfulness of excessive homework and I would be dropping it by the ream of paper on this teacher's desk. I would tell her that I am organizing a protest with other parents (because I would) and that we are going to the PTA (which is usually more responsive than the principal to this sort of thing) about starting a school policy that homework must be less than thirty minutes because that is the recommendation of educational experts.

 

This is pretty much why I homeschool. Everyone would hate me and my kids.

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