What is reasonable to expect from public school teachers? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 09-03-2010, 12:20 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Just looking for a reality check.

Background: DS was identified as gifted by his Kindergarten teacher. She felt he was basically in a league of his own when compared to the other kids in his class and that it was going to be nearly impossible for her to challenge him in that setting, so she asked for a conference with DH and I to discuss options. We considered advancing him to 1st grade but in the end sent him to 1st for reading and math but kept him with his same-aged peers for the rest of the day. She told us that arrangement would work for that year but she wasn't sure what would happen as the years progress, and she specifically used the 2nd grade teachers as an example (as in, "I don't know if the 2nd grade teachers will be able to accomodate the same kind of arrangement".) In 1st grade he was lucky to have another child move in to his class who was on a similar level, and a child in kindergarten who was a very good reader so the 1st grade and kindergarten teachers formed a little accelerated group. Aside from reading his 1st grade teacher went out of her way to give him extra challenges in the form of worksheets of harder level activities or asking him questions that were a step beyond what they were learning. He thrived during these 2 years and never once complained of being bored or not wanting to go to school.

So he's now been in 2nd grade for 3 weeks, and I know it's early but I'm getting nervous that this teacher isn't going to try to challenge him at all. She apparently teaches most things in a full group and they have not done any small group activities yet, which means there has been no opportunity to tailor things to his level. I asked him today if his teacher has given him any different worksheets from the rest of the class and he said no - they all do the same things. He mentioned that he has been given 2 warnings this week because the teacher has caught him spacing off. Previous teachers have never mentioned that as an issue so I think it is new this year.

To add to my concern they have also discontinued the gifted program, which wasn't very great to begin with (1 hr once a week pull out group) but at least it was something.

DS being the oldest, I think I expected that all teachers would go that extra mile to try to meet each of their children's level. Maybe that was not a correct assumption? What should I expect from his teacher this year? Any suggestions of how to approach her about my concerns? I don't want to come off as "that mom" who thinks her kid is the most important in the classroom. But honestly, the things he has been bringing home for work are things he could do in kindergarten or even pre-K.

TIA -

Laurie Busy mama to Boo (10/02) DeeDa (10/04) and Belly (10/07) TS 45X
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#2 of 10 Old 09-03-2010, 12:29 AM
 
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I don't know where you are, but in our district if a child is "formally" identified as gifted then there is an IEP in place (which you would have had significant input in) and the current teacher is bound by the goals and strategies put in writing in that document. If your son has an IEP, I'd start by asking for a meeting with the teacher and the special education teacher to "review" the details of the plan. Many teachers just simply do not have time to review all the IEP's before the start of the year and it may be a good reminder for her to do so. If you do not have an IEP in place then I would start seeking a formal identification to get that process underway.

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#3 of 10 Old 09-03-2010, 01:08 AM
 
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Our area does not do IEP for gifted students, but if yours does- look into it!

I would ask for a conference with the teacher. She may be 1. new 2. new to the grade and unsure of grade level expectations 3. have a larger than normal class and still assessing students 4. that is just her style.

The only one I would worry about would be #4. The rest can be worked with and may just need a conference with the teacher to see what can be done.If that is her style (group learning) than she will be less likely to differentiate into smaller groups.

I would meet with her and explain the new development of 'spacing out', and your sons academic skills. See what can be worked out and I would do it soon.

3 weeks in and the teacher should have started to organize the time and style pretty firmly. If you wait to long, it may be harder to adjust anything.
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#4 of 10 Old 09-03-2010, 01:37 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KCMichigan View Post

3 weeks in and the teacher should have started to organize the time and style pretty firmly. If you wait to long, it may be harder to adjust anything.
This. The first two to three weeks should be establishing routines/procedures and assessing students (if the teacher plans on differentiating instruction).

Jordana, mama to almost 8 year old Evan, 3 year old Atticus, and 1 year old Tabitha - my gifts from heaven

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#5 of 10 Old 09-03-2010, 09:02 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KCMichigan View Post
Our area does not do IEP for gifted students, but if yours does- look into it!

I would ask for a conference with the teacher. She may be 1. new 2. new to the grade and unsure of grade level expectations 3. have a larger than normal class and still assessing students 4. that is just her style.

The only one I would worry about would be #4. The rest can be worked with and may just need a conference with the teacher to see what can be done.If that is her style (group learning) than she will be less likely to differentiate into smaller groups.

I would meet with her and explain the new development of 'spacing out', and your sons academic skills. See what can be worked out and I would do it soon.

3 weeks in and the teacher should have started to organize the time and style pretty firmly. If you wait to long, it may be harder to adjust anything.
He does not have an IEP and the district doesn't do IEP's for gifted students.

The teacher has been there, teaching 2nd grade, for at least the 3 years we've been going. She appears to be a seasoned teacher. The class size might be a little larger than the norm. DH felt it was most likely she is still assessing students, but as you have mentioned timing is important.

Laurie Busy mama to Boo (10/02) DeeDa (10/04) and Belly (10/07) TS 45X
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#6 of 10 Old 09-03-2010, 09:50 AM
 
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I'd also suspect the teacher has been assessing her students. I agree with setting up a conference soon. A lot of schools host Meet-the-teacher/Curriculum nights at this point of the new school year. It isn't pushy to want an individual meeting to discuss special needs at this time. I can't recall attending one of these curriculum nights where the teacher has NOT said, "If you have questions or concerns about your child, please arrange a meeting with me".

It will help if you are prepared for the meeting with some suggestions for exploration as possible accommodations. You've already had some experience with differentiated work in class and subject acceleration. Some parents send books and workbooks and projects from home to school. There are some older threads about teaching gifted students in the regular classroom that will have some good ideas. The Hoagies Gifted site will have resource suggestions - articles and books etc. - on the same topic.
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#7 of 10 Old 09-03-2010, 12:55 PM
 
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I will certainly be following this thread, as my son is in a similar situation. My one advice is to not wait too long. You will be surprised how fast the year can get ahead of you.
Last year when I went in, we reviewed his assessments, especially math. He had scored a 99% on the first grade math assessment the second week of school, yet they left him in the same math level. When I finally went in to meet with her in the spring, they let him move ahead, and he made it through all of second and third grade curriculum in less than a month.
She was a wonderful and considerate teacher, but she hadn't even noticed or thought about moving him ahead. It was just a computer program, it didn't cause her any additional work other than to program in the level. We also decided that I would send in all the worksheets for his work folder.
I say this because teachers do have a lot of students of all different abilities. It is easy to lose track. Be polite and offer to help in any way you can and she will let you, but don't wait any longer.
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#8 of 10 Old 09-03-2010, 09:26 PM
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I teach high school, so it's different, but it certainly does take me at least a couple weeks to learn names and faces and really start to get to know the kids and their levels and needs, just in a rudimentary way even. I'm more focused on teaching class routines so we can have a smooth and successful year together. BUT the kids who want to can get my attention pretty quickly. An IEP is ideal b/c teachers are bound by law to follow it-- I take them very seriously because I know if I don't follow it, a parent could decide to sue me and take my house! But if you can't get one, you can still be the squeaky wheel. Just being respectful of the teacher, making it about how you can work together, etc, should help. I think with the large class sizes and increased pressure to get all the lower and medium kids up on test scores, it does pay to speak up and demand (nicely) the teacher's attention. I mean, I just try to stay afloat a lot of the time, and emails from parents help me to keep that ball in the air! I appreciate it. I also agree, ask about a good meeting time (not at back to school night, teachers hate getting trapped talking about a specific kid or what have you right then, mostly b/c they've been at school since dawn ). Hopefully you can help the teacher develop a habit of differentiating for and challenging your son.
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#9 of 10 Old 09-06-2010, 10:01 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all for your thoughts.

We had our Meet the Teacher night before school started. I did email her to ask how prevalent his lack of focus is and she said not a problem at all, but it seemed from her response that she meant he isn't talking to peers instead of attending to her. I'm not sure she's realizing that he is spending part of his day entertained by his own thoughts because he isn't a behavior problem. So I think we will need to get together and I'm thinking I'll just ask her what strategies she typically uses to challenge the kids who need that extra stimulation. If she doesn't have a plan in place I'll go prepared with suggestions.

St. Margaret, thanks for offering your perspective as a teacher. I know teachers have so many different things pulling their attention and unfortuntately challenging the kids who are doing well and need more is not valued by the people setting policy.

Laurie Busy mama to Boo (10/02) DeeDa (10/04) and Belly (10/07) TS 45X
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#10 of 10 Old 09-06-2010, 01:08 PM
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A grade skip is the best thing we did for our gifted dd:

www.nationdeceived.org

If we had just waited for all of her various teachers to "challenge" her, we'd be disappointed.

"Our task is not to see the future, but to enable it."
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