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Bad teacher dilemma: anyone BTDT and succeeded?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
My dd's (2nd grade) teacher this year is so bad that I am facing a tough decision. She has always loved school, she loves being with her friends and it has been fun for her (up until this year). Since she started 2nd grade 7 weeks ago she begs me to let her stay home in the morning, she often cries, she started biting her nails, she brings home chewed-up pencils from school on a weekly basis, come Monday she begs for another weekend, she is moody now.....it's much like how it was for me when I started junior high school. I don't want to put her through this anymore. I don't want her to lose her natural love for learning. She has thus far been afraid to tell me about her teacher because she is afraid of her. But, after talking to another concerned parent who is also holding her dd out of school, she opened up to me and told me that she hates it there. The teacher doesn't ever let the kids have a voice, they have to remain silent, they stay in their seats and work silently all day, she humiliates and scares children in front of the whole class, she is a total dictator. This is the first year that I have not been allowed to volunteer in the classroom, she keeps putting me off saying that she'll put a note in dd's folder when she needs me. So I have pulled dd out of the classroom. There is only one other class and it is the teacher who I requested in the first place but I guess there were so many requests for her that they weren't able to honor all requests. They are not allowing me to switch her. I'm still fighting it and am hoping for the best, but we are being forced into homeschooling. I have always envied homeschooling and would personally love to do it, but I'm afraid dd will miss her friends too much and not be happy. Like I said she otherwise loves school, just not this teacher.

I guess what I am looking for is support and any BTDT advice/experiences...
post #2 of 9
When I student-taught, there was a teacher (not my master teacher, thank goodness!) who was like that. All of the kids were totally in fear of her, even the "bad" ones. She made them cry and wouldn't let me be in the classroom when she took over to teach social studies. I went back in one day to take my inhaler and I swear that she stopped teaching and sat there until I left the room. Yeesh.

I'm not sure what advice to give, except that I certainly wouldn't want my child in class with a teacher like her. I might take her out and home-school her to. What a dilemna!
post #3 of 9
come over to the hs board if that is what you end up doing there are people there that are hsing after withdrawing from ps negative experience
(((hug)) that stinks they can't switch your dd class, I hope you can get this resolved quickly to something happy for all involved
Can you go to a private school setting for the next semester?
post #4 of 9
So, what paths have you taken so far? Have you talked to the principal and the teacher? That would be the first step, to meet with both of them, with very specific complaints. Request the other mom to be there, too, and TAKE NOTES. You can also meet with the principal privately and relay your concerns. If this doesn't work, if nothing is done, then I would contact the superintendent of schools. Remember that things are done on a slow basis in a large system like the public schools, and you might not see change immediately. But if you simply pull your child out, it may be better for *your* child, but not for anyone of the other hundreds of children this teacher will teach.

Speak to the other parents in the class. Are their children having problems with the teacher, fears of her, fears of school? If so, bring them on board.

If none of this works, if your complaints are brushed off, I would file a formal complaint against the teacher and school with the local district and the state board of education, and I would make a big stink about it in the local newspaper.

But I would start at the bottom first. I had a big complaint with the music teacher at my daugter's old school. The day after 9-11, for my dd's first grade class (and I assume she did this with every class), she taught them patriotic songs. Okay, I have no problem with that, really. But, she told the kids they were going to learn these because of what happened "With the evil people who destroyed the Two Towers and attacked our country. My son is in the army, and he is going to hunt them down and punish them. So we are going to sing these songs in honor of our brave soldiers who are putting their lives in danger so that children like you can be safe." Whoa! Now, whether I agree or disagree with this statement, I felt it was not her place in the least to be discussing this. I mean, my kid didn't even know it had happened (we hadn't discussed it yet), and she thought she was talking about Lord of the Rings. She wasn't sure what the heck was going on. That wasn't the only beef I had with her; the kids watched videos *all the time* and some of them weren't appropriate; I can understand watching snippets of mainstream movies to illustrate what an orchestra looks like, for example; but they would watch things like the "Lion King" or "The Mirror has Two Faces" (Hello, 6 year olds!), or some very long musical that would take up literally one month of class to watch (they have music every three days).

I spoke to the prinicpal privately, and then I requested a meeting with the teacher. I asked her straight up why she used videos so much, and she denied it. Then I listed the videos my daughter had seen so far, and she said my dd was lying. The principal then stepped in and said, "Well, then we must have mass hallucinations going on, because we have had several complaints from other parents, and I have your VCR check out log from the library, and I see that you appear to watch videos in your classes greater than 50% of the time." Woohoo, go principal!

Anyhow, the principal actually limited her allotted time with VCRs, and did 15 hours total of random, unannounced observation. The teacher wasn't fired, but she was reprimanded, and while she didn't miraculously turn into a fantastic teacher, she at least did make a better effort to actually teach about music, instead of just putting in a video.

Hope you get some resolution to this. Keep us posted! Good luck!

post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the advice everyone.

I've met with the Principal twice so far. Unfortunately he likes this teacher and defends her. He even goes as far as lying about my "accusations". She doesn't allow parent volunteers, he says she does. She doesn't allow talking, he says she does. She doesn't allow the children to work in groups (or interact with one another), he says she does. She yells at the students, he says she doesn't. They aren't allowed out of their seats, he says they are. The children are always overworked and tired, he says they're not. Tell this to my dd who came home everyday too tired to do anything else, who begged for the next weekend come Monday, who started biting her nails, who bit down the tops of all her pencils (including the metal), who usually looks forward to going to school with excitement.

The last meeting ended with him saying that the other class was full. I offered to vounteer to off-set the ratio (I am a certified elementary teacher). He said that it "would be very difficult" to make the switch but that he would "try". And that he will call me today with the news. This man is notorious for saying that he "will call me back" and never following through until I sit in the office and wait for him to not be busy. And these are for very minor things like general questions (not complaints), I am by no means a pest (until now anyway). I haven't met with the teacher because these are things that indicate her teaching style and personality. To approach her with my concerns/complaints would be attacking her as a teacher and a person. I am not confrontational. I am not letting my dd slip through the cracks, but it is just not in me to meet negativity eye-to-eye. The other parent met with her and the teacher shrugged it off and said that her dd "was just fine". This happy-go-lucky child has not gone to school in over 3 weeks because she is so afraid of the teacher.

Oh yeah, and the principal also suggested that my dd meet with the school counselor ...SHE is not the problem that needs fixing.

I am starting to heavily doubt this school. It is ranked as one of the "best" schools in Hawaii because of it's high test scores. But I am realizing that the reason they rank so high is because the teachers are constantly preparing the students for testing. Everything revolves around test preparation. I questioned their ways when they were testing my dd's 1st grade class "just for fun" when the state doesn't even do official testing until 3rd grade. This is partly why I don't want to become a teacher anymore. There is so much emphasis placed on "no child left behind", standards-based change, and testing, that teachers no longer have the freedom to teach. It's not fun anymore, not for the teachers nor the students.

I might look into proceeding to the school board, etc. And I know there are other concerned parents. I just am not sure this school is worth fighting for. And, since they are ranked high in testing (one of the only on our island), I imagine that I will be met with a lot of resistance for action. Word has it (as it is) that this teacher threatened a lawsuit if they didn't take her in as a teacher.

There is one other school that I have always planned to send dd to (until we moved just down the street from her present school). It is still public school with the same BS that goes along with it, but it is known for being more "alternative". I might look into that, I don't know. For now though, I think I'm headed over to the HS forum (thanks for the invite Vanna's Mom )...
post #6 of 9
Just two thoughts. If there is nothing going on the principal should not object to a request from you that you OBSERVE the class, and since you are a former teacher you can assure him that you will not be disruptive. They might even be required to let you in the classroom for observation, as long as you schedule it in advance. Of course, they will probably have a sub for that day.

It also might be interesting to meet with the counselor and see what they have to say. I am sure that you realize that other staff members may have opinions that differ from the principal, and are often indiscreet enough to share them. You might learn of other parents who are also having difficulties.

I understand what you mean, however, about whether the school is worth fighting for, the irrational focus on test scores, and the general frustration one meets in public schools. Every morning I wonder if I should be homeschooling, and we don't have the problems you faced this year.
post #7 of 9
I hope you can get things worked out and have your dd moved. It is very sad to read what this teacher is doing to such young children. I am not sure if it is legal,but if it were my dd(I am homeschooling for now) I would want to put a hidden video camera on her,or atleast a mini recorder in her bookbag to record what the teacher says.I would do that for a few weeks and then take as proof of the harmful situation,and demand the teacher get a bit of education herself!
Best wishes!
post #8 of 9
Having your daughter meet with the counselor may not be a bad idea if she would open up. The counselor would then be another 'witness' for your side. I would certainly talk to the other parents and see if this is a widespread problem. A united front works well.

My mom is an elementary principal, and she is totally aware of the teachers that she has in her school that are sub-par. All she can do is give them poor evaluations. Most schools are unionized, and that makes it very difficult to terminate a teacher based on parent complaints.

Document EVERYTHING and see how it compared to other parents' experience as well.

On the flip side, why NOT homeschool for a year? Childhood is way too short for a little one to be so unhappy. I am not a homeschooler, but if my kid were miserable, I would certainly convert. If you are worried about your daughter missing her friends, are they in any afterschool activities like scouts, martial arts or dance where she could see them? Plus, there always are weekend sleep overs.

Lastly, have you asked her what she wants? She may be OK with going to school, but not loving it. She may be excited to be homeschooled. I would let her know that you are trying to find what is best for her and while you may not do what she wants, you value her input and her stake in what is decided.
post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
It looks like we're homeschooling. I am so frustrated right now. We requested the other teacher for a reason in the first place (and I submitted it last May, well in advance). I knew this teacher would not be good for dd but they refused to switch her in the first place. And now the other teacher isn't even willing to bend a little to accept her into her class. So I say screw them all :. Dd is such a good happy kid, I don't understand why they are so unwilling to help her and so quick to defend one another. Shame on them for hurting her like this. She is so upset that she won't be with her friends anymore. She flat-out does not want to go back to that teacher, and I support her in that. But now she has all these new fears...will I lose my friends, how is it going to be at home, what will happen next year if I return to that school, etc. She wants to be home with me but I'm not even sure if it's going to work. She is so stubborn, it's hard to get her to do anything sometimes. Dh is all of a sudden unsupportive. He doesn't think we will be successful at homeschooling because she loves being around other children so much, and because he's seen how we are together in the Summer. We're both very stubborn and butt heads sometimes.

And now all of a sudden dd doesn't even want to go to soccer, something she's always loved. I'm so frustrated and she's so depressed right now. Everything is caving in on us and it makes me feel so sad.
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