Meeting with ds's teacher tomorrow - could use some advice - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 16 Old 10-08-2010, 01:10 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My 9yo entered 4th grade this year after being homeschooled this whole time. His reading is fine. Writing and spelling are tough for him, especially spelling. Phonics never made sense to him. Math he understands just fine, but isn't as drilled on his facts as he should be.

6 weeks into the school year now, and I feel like his teacher is being very negative with him, and it's starting to affect his self esteem. We are in the classroom every day after school for about 20 minutes as he likes to straighten the classroom to earn these little yellow tickets. (The teacher thinks he's trying to earn the tickets to win a little trinket, but the reality is he's trying to win her approval.) So, the whole time we're in there, all I ever hear her give him is negative feedback. His spelling, his not doing well with timed math facts, etc. I've never really heard her say anything positive or encouraging.

Today was kind of the last straw for me. We were in there, and we were talking about how he had left some papers at home the night before. (Now, granted, my son is a bit disorganized, always has been. This is a kid who can never, ever, remember to shut the screen door behind him, and would probably lose his head if it wasn't attached. But, he tries hard, and it's not due to laziness or lack of caring, and I think his determination is obvious.) So today she says to him "You know what you are? You are dis . . ." And then waits, expecting him to complete what she's saying. Then she says again "Dis . . . ., it means "un" . . . ." He is still drawing a blank. Then she says "It starts with an O . . ." He looks up at me, and I say, "She's saying disorganized." She then went on to talk about now that he knows that about himself he can find ways to fix it, but I really didn't like the whole exchange.

I get the distinct feeling that she's uptight about testing (she's made comments about this before), and it is irritated that he might bring the scores down.

Anyhow, I've emailed her, and we're meeting tomorrow, but this is a first for me. I'm debating about whether or not to tell her that we plan on abstaining from the testing, but I'm definitely going to let her know that he is starting to talk about being dumb and feeling insecure about his abilities.
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#2 of 16 Old 10-08-2010, 02:08 AM
 
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Has he been tested for LDs?

In some states, the first year that a student attends a new school, their score is not counted toward the schools average. He may not impact test scores at all this year.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#3 of 16 Old 10-08-2010, 09:36 AM
 
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OH, how hard (and horrible)

In the meeting, I would explain that her constant negative remarks are affecting his self esteem.

I would point out that you acknowledge his weak area and are actively working to fix them - but that both you and DS need some acknowledgement of his strengths as well.

If he feels comfortable doing so, DS could write a note saying how he feels. It may be more powerful coming from him.

As per the volunteering after class, this is something I would talk to DS about. You might want to see if there are any positive changes after your talk - but if there aren't I would discourage him from volunteering to clean. Trying to win approval from someone who isn't going to give it is sad, and a waste of time.

If it is legal to abstain from testing in your state, I would totally tell the teacher you are going to abstain. It is very inappropriate that she would treat a child negatively because she is worried about test score , however if letting her know you are going to abstain calms her behaviour, it is worth it to let her know.

If talking does not work - how about a classroom change?

You may want to document things she says - just in case you need it later.
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#4 of 16 Old 10-08-2010, 12:03 PM
 
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So, bullying behavior from the adult huh? Nice. (sarcasm)
I'm sorry, but nothing good will come from this teacher, she is willing to make your ds feel bad so she feels good. This isn't acceptable behavior at all.

If the teacher had addressed the disorganization in another way, I would have been fine with it. Kids should understand their strengths and what areas they can work on, but HOW you go about working with the child makes all the difference in a child who feels that can fail/make mistakes and correct them, and a child who makes my mistakes and just feels bad about himself.

Even if the teacher is stressed about test scores, she is not allowed to take out her frustrations on your son.

I hope something positive can come out of the meeting but sadly, I don't see that happening.

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#5 of 16 Old 10-08-2010, 12:19 PM
 
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I'd definitely let her know that he responds better to positive reinforcement rather than negative feedback (duh!). If that is her ingrained, habitual method of correction, it's unlikely to change much though.

I'd also talk about it honestly with your DS. As tactfully as possible, explain that this teacher uses negative feedback because she thinks it will get results. Let him know that it is her - not him - that has the real problem.

ETA: I was interrupted before, sorry, and didn't finish the post. Obviously, your DS needs to learn organizational skills and if he already was a perfect writer and speller and mathematician he wouldn't need school at all. So when I say he doesn't have a problem, I don't mean that he doesn't need some instruction or to learn. I think it's helpful to acknowledge to children that some adults have personalities and use methods that may not be a good fit for some (or even all) children. Nonetheless, a student may have to work with those adults. It isn't right or fair. The adults are the ones who should adapt. However, unless you have another option (different class, different school, homeschooling etc.), then I think he's at an age where he can be coached a little on interpersonal management with authority figures - where he takes some control on how to respond to her. I wouldn't expect it of a 6 y.o., but I think a 9 y.o. can benefit from this kind of upfront perspective of the situation.
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#6 of 16 Old 10-09-2010, 02:17 AM
 
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How did the meeting go? I have to say that take a LOT of nerve to continuously criticize him with you standing *right there*!
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#7 of 16 Old 10-09-2010, 07:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It went really well. I don't think she really knew that she was being so negative towards him, but the end of the meeting she was definitely on board with making sure he gets more positive feedback. I think she didn't really know where we were coming from, and now that she knows, she will maybe lighten up a little bit. It was interesting, because we were talking about what grades were going to be on his report card (she hasn't done them yet), and she was warning me that there would be Cs and Ds (I don't care), but then when she actually got out her grade book and looked at his individual grades so far, everything was between a C+ to A+, which would mean that most of his grades would be a B or better. She seemed surprised, which I think means that it is true that she was subconsciously assuming that he was doing a lot worse than he actually is.

I basically told her that I felt like there was more negative feedback than positive, and that I wanted to be careful about labeling him at such a young age. I emphasized how hard he works (which she agrees, she sees it in class), and that my primary concern is that he retain his high self esteem and love of learning. I basically told her straight out that I didn't care how quickly he progressed or what his grades were, but that I understood that she has a different job than I do. I also acknowledged that she has a hard job, because parents have such different expectations. I happen to have overheard some parents a few days ago complaining to her that their son wasn't being pushed enough, and that they wanted her to do what she could to get him into the advanced reading group, and then I come in and ask her to stop pushing so hard! So I really do appreciate that she must often feel like she's between a rock and a hard place.

I asked her straight out if she was at all anxious about him bringing down her test scores, and she said not at all. She said she only cares about seeing progress made from year to year, and this would be his first year taking the test so it would be considered a benchmark anyhow. She did admit that there is a lot of emphasis on test prep, but she and I both agree that it's unfortunate but necessary given how the schools are evaluated and funded. She was fine with idea of him abstaining from the testing, but did say that the few kids that do that end up feeling like the odd ones out because it's such a big deal at the school, so just to keep that in mind when making our decision, which is fair. I can see this being important to ds, and if he wants to take the test, fine with me.

She is going to rearrange seating next week, because ds's seatmate is a girl who has been a little nasty when he asks her questions when they're supposed to be working together. She was going to do it soon anyhow, but she said she'd make sure to do it right away.

I also found out something interesting, which is that when she walks around during class asking kids if they need help, ds always says no. I'm pretty sure it's because he feels like everyone knows so much more than he does, and that if he doesn't understand something it must be something wrong with him. So I'm going to talk to ds about this and encourage him to ask questions.

All in all I felt really good about the meeting, and she made a big deal of thanking me and encouraging me to always come to her if I had any concerns, which I appreciate. I think overall she's a nice person, but she just comes off as kind of cold.
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#8 of 16 Old 10-09-2010, 09:04 PM
 
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Originally Posted by oceanbaby View Post
I also found out something interesting, which is that when she walks around during class asking kids if they need help, ds always says no. I'm pretty sure it's because he feels like everyone knows so much more than he does, and that if he doesn't understand something it must be something wrong with him.
When my then 10 year old first started school, she brought ALL her work home everyday because she felt so insecure about getting it right. She got over it, but it took a couple of months.

I'm glad you had a good meeting with the teacher!

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#9 of 16 Old 10-10-2010, 11:12 AM
 
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Nice update!

I hope the positive attitude sticks.
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#10 of 16 Old 10-10-2010, 01:48 PM
 
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I know there is a lot here, where I live, where teachers and public schools in general do not like homechoolers. So they go out of their way to "prove" that the home schooled child has problems and is bad to make their point. These are bigoted people. It is prejudice and unacceptable. That is what you are up against.

Whatever you do, never admit to anything negative about your child. Keep the conversation on topic. And if she ever says anything such as "home schoolers don't know how to listen" or "home schoolers don't know how to function in a classroom" or any other blanket bigoted statement like that, then call her on it. My sister teaches and is almost done with her graduate degree and I got her advice on that. She says when you try to meet them half way by admitting that your child has trouble socializing or anything else, then chances are, they will hold on to that an they won't meet you half way, but rather use that to throw in your face.

Good luck!
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#11 of 16 Old 10-10-2010, 04:27 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Lisa1970 View Post
I know there is a lot here, where I live, where teachers and public schools in general do not like homechoolers. So they go out of their way to "prove" that the home schooled child has problems and is bad to make their point. These are bigoted people. It is prejudice and unacceptable. That is what you are up against.

Whatever you do, never admit to anything negative about your child. Keep the conversation on topic. And if she ever says anything such as "home schoolers don't know how to listen" or "home schoolers don't know how to function in a classroom" or any other blanket bigoted statement like that, then call her on it. My sister teaches and is almost done with her graduate degree and I got her advice on that. She says when you try to meet them half way by admitting that your child has trouble socializing or anything else, then chances are, they will hold on to that an they won't meet you half way, but rather use that to throw in your face.

Good luck!
It seems that this could really get in the way of having a healthy and productive relationship with your child's school and teacher. I think it's worth listening to, and considering, what your child's teacher has to say about their observations, even if it doesn't mesh with our experience of our kids. One of my kids is very different at home than at school, so both the teacher and I bring valid experiences to the table, as long as we can listen to each other. Another of my kids socializes differently w/small groups of peers than larger ones, so that has been a helpful observation that her teacher and I can discuss, and consider what it might mean for the school experience.

I have had disagreements, but never had anything thrown in my face, so to speak. I'd rather a partnership than confrontation.
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#12 of 16 Old 10-10-2010, 04:49 PM
 
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So they go out of their way to "prove" that the home schooled child has problems and is bad to make their point.
just for the record, that was NOT our experience.

I kinda expected it to be, but isn't wasn't. The school staff was great with both my kids.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#13 of 16 Old 10-10-2010, 05:11 PM
 
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I teach at a public school (4th grade) and OP - you're exactly right on about different wants/expectations from families. I have parents complain that there is too much homework; others who want more. Some want me to push more, others want me to back off. I have 31 (32 starting next week) and many with 2 sets of parents, so that many different opinions of what needs to be done. Throw into the mix the state standards I'm supposed to teach (many of which are not developmentally appropriate, IMO) and it's a VERY hard job.

Not all teachers think poorly of homeschooling. I think it can be done correctly (as everyone here does, I'm sure) and incorrectly (throwing a kid in front of a computer or the discovery channel and think that's educating - which is not the norm, I'm sure). I think homeschooling can accomplish so much more than I can in a shorter amount of time because homeschoolers don't have to take 10 minutes to get all 31 students to get out a pencil, the right book, get to the right page, stop talking to their neighbor about what to do at recess, etc.

But, as a teacher, having a parent who COMES TO ME with concerns and is willing to work to a solution that is agreeable and positive for everyone is my dream come true. Unfortunately, that's not as common as you'd think. I have several parents I've tried to call multiple times (call, email, written note, etc.) and I've had NO response. It's sad really.

So, I'm glad your meeting went well. With so many students, it's hard to get to know everyone well - especially if they're more quiet during class. Frequently their are more 'boisterous' personalities who get much of the attention. We, as teachers, just want what's best for the students. Sometimes we're on the mark, sometimes we're not. Talking with parents to help us understand the child is one of the best things that can happen.

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#14 of 16 Old 10-14-2010, 01:25 AM
 
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I also found out something interesting, which is that when she walks around during class asking kids if they need help, ds always says no. I'm pretty sure it's because he feels like everyone knows so much more than he does, and that if he doesn't understand something it must be something wrong with him. So I'm going to talk to ds about this and encourage him to ask questions.
Just my opinion on this, but I think it's his distrust of her from the way she's been "handling" him. I agree to definitely talk with him about this, but also think about giving him more time to adjust to the classroom, the teacher and her hopefully "new" attitude. The adults in his life aren't always right all the time, as you've shown him through the conversation you've had with his teacher.

I've taught public high school for five years and have tutored inner-city school kids who resist my help. In all cases, it's been from lack of trust and not knowing who I am as the adult and teacher. Once a student feels secure and not attacked, then they'll come around on their own and form a good relationship with their teachers. Good luck!
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#15 of 16 Old 10-14-2010, 01:55 AM
 
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PS. It would help if she openly acknowledged what she did and apologized to him. His feelings are hurt and that is not acceptable. Every student that I've done this to has never turned around until I acknowledged that I was wrong and apologized.
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#16 of 16 Old 10-16-2010, 01:13 PM
 
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I'm so glad the meeting went well!!!! That's a great update!

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