Difficult sending daughter to 4th grade...my problem, not hers. - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 08-29-2012, 10:03 AM - Thread Starter
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I get that things are different nowadays.  They squeeze so many kids into a tiny space, individual desks take the place of tables and shared learning experiences, and the expectations are higher...much higher.  But I am having an absolute inner fit about sending my daughter to 4th grade.  We were placed with the teacher I requested (based on trusted people who gave me info and never steered me wrong before) and we had the open house last night.  I literally wanted to throw up after seeing the classroom and the intro the teacher gave.  I'm trying to give the teacher the benefit of the doubt because I hear he's wonderful and the kids like him.  The classroom had almost nothing in it--desks/a few maps on the walls/a bookshelf/a couple computers, a projector, and...and...just about nothing else!  There was no "teacher chair" or "circle rug" or anything fun.  The window to the room looks out at a brick wall.  I would want to do myself in if I had to spend the majority of my year in there.  It was sad, really.  


The teacher simply read briefly from a sheet within the kids' folders--when you come to school the first day, sit in your assigned seat and I will give you your locker assignments...here are when you'll be tested and what you'll be tested on.  


What was I expecting?  "Hi, Kids! Welcome to 4th grade! I am so excited to see you and we're going to have a great year!  Lets get to know each other!"  Oh, but there's no room for that as he was giving a pop multiplication quiz (to which my daughter answered a question confidently, but wrong.)  


I hate this!  I'm a homeschooler at heart, but can't do it right now.  I care much more about effort and enjoying learning than I ever would about grades and competition.  


I'm doing everything I can to be positive and tell my daughter she's going to have a great year, but I'm just sick about it.



Mama to girl (11), boy (7) and girl (4).  "Can't we all just get along?" joy.gif
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#2 of 8 Old 08-29-2012, 01:44 PM
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Give it time. Open house, that means school just started or about to start right? What would there be to put on the walls yet? Most classrooms are filled with the kids work and until they do some, it's going to be bland. 4th grade rooms typically don't have carpets and "circle rugs." That doesn't mean the teacher doesn't engage with them or read to/with them... just means they are getting pretty big and it's hard to fit them on the floor anymore. Male teachers can be more matter-of-fact when talking to parents but my own kids always loved their male teachers most because or their active and straight-forward style. My kids were grateful for individual desks where they could put there stuff and didn't have to struggle with difficult table mates and such. I don't know how many kids you remember in school but my classes (in a rural, small district school) had 30-40 kids per class regularly! My own kids usually had between 20-28. 


Appearances are nothing... truly nothing. Be positive with your child and I suspect you'll watch the environment warm with the bustling of children.

Married mom, DD 18, DS 15, and a Valentine's surprise on the way!
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#3 of 8 Old 08-30-2012, 07:20 AM
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The best teacher that my kids had was a guy who was terrible at speaking with parents, gave a pretty mundane orientation and open house at the beginning of the year and was not that great at the parent conference a month later. I've heard some parents suggest that he is on the spectrum, possibly Asperger-ish, but mostly I think he just saves it all up for the kids. He is adored by his students and acknowledged as one of the best at identifying a student's needs and meeting them. Even the parents who didn't really like him on a personal level admitted that he was fantastic with their kids, creative with the curriculum and brilliant at keeping the students engaged in the classroom. The fellow is somewhat famous in the school district because he has been teaching for over 30 years, so he is now teaching the children of his former students. Every spring parents hold their breath as they wait to hear whether this is the year he will retire. 


It is a wonderful experience if you make a connection with the teacher but it is much more important for the teacher to make a connection with the students. I would wait and see what your DD thinks and what kind of relationship they develop over the next month or so. 


Your description of the classroom is bleak. Some things may change as the year gets underway. I wouldn't expect a circle rug in a 4th grade classroom. Individual desks sound old-school, but it's the kind of traditional set up that many schools still use. There are benefits to having workspace that a student is entirely responsible for and can be claimed as their own. Many teachers will re-arrange the individual desks into group clusters, but that often doesn't happen until a few weeks into the school year.  The teacher gets to know the students and can then decide on how to sort them into effective working groups. 


As for the tight squeeze in the classroom - no doubt other parents requested this teacher too. I think you probably should have expected that it would be a large class, given how popular he seems to be. If the school is going to accommodate everyone's requests fairly, this in-demand teacher is going to have a full class - or perhaps over-enrolled at the beginning of the year until they sort out and adjust classes. Schools often re-adjust classes about 2 weeks into the school year - after they have final enrolment numbers since families move away during the summer and new families move into the area. You may find that the class numbers change. 


Good luck with the school year. 

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#4 of 8 Old 08-30-2012, 09:01 AM
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First, you should know I am a 4th grade teacher.


Next, you should know that I did not like my son's 4th grade teacher.  However, my son adored her.  Like PP stated, sometimes you have to get over your feelings and go with what your child feels/thinks.


During my son's 4th grade year, our family went through a great deal of upheaval.  My DH lost his job, we had to change our lifestyle, childcare changed, etc.  I informed his teacher that there were some changes going on in our home and asked that if she saw any differences with our son to please let us know.  Her reply was that there shouldn't be any changes in my son because what was going on in our home was not a valid excuse.  (I should add that he really was fine, he continued to get good grades, and his behavior was excellent.) 


As a teacher, I found this ignorant on her part.  As a mom, I was pretty ticked off!


But DS continues to say that he loved her.  My DD is going to be in 4th grade this year, and I am kind of crossing my fingers that she doesn't get this teacher, but truly it is my problem, not my child's.  (Just like you stated in your post title.)  Good luck, I am sure your daughter will have an awesome year!

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#5 of 8 Old 08-30-2012, 07:43 PM
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I was up at my kids' school today and I thought about you. We have a bunch of bulletin boards in the front of the school that are usually covered in children's work and photos of children doing wonderful things. But right now, it's all blank. Totally blank. Not even a welcome sign. It won't stay that way for long.


My kids used to swim competitively, and at one point they had a coach who I found a bit odd -- very cut and dry, awkward in conversation. But he was an amazing coach -- when he was coaching the kids, it was like watching someone who is doing exactly what god put them on this earth to do. He wasn't good at talking to parents, but he was a great coach, very intuitive about the kids, firm but kind.  I hope your child's teacher turns out to be like him.


Good luck!  The beginning of the year can be a bit nerve wracking wondering if everything is really going as it should and if it will be a good year for your child.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#6 of 8 Old 08-30-2012, 08:35 PM
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My dd hasn't had a circle time rug since kindergarten and I don't remember any past second grade as a child. The teachers still read to kids after morning recess but circle time isn't something most older kids need (and I think some would resist it as babyish because this age seems to be an age where being mature matters). Even without it reading was always fun and I remember we moaned so.sadly when our sixth grade teacher wasn't going to read to us daily that she decided to after all.

My dd's second grade teacher was hard to take at first, she seemed so rigid and matter of fact but she turned out to be a wonderful teacher and the most dedicated to being reflective and responsive. She had high standards, a set routine, clear expectations, and gave out hugs and kind words whenever they were needed. She knew when to push a child to do something and when to back down and work on building a resistant child up so they felt like she was working with them instead of against them. I really wish more teachers were like her.
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#7 of 8 Old 08-31-2012, 06:14 PM
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am i understanding it right that this is your dd's first year at school?


i agree with all the posters. remember the teachers nightmare are the parents. not the kids.


it really doesnt matter what YOU think of the teacher. 


what matters is how your child does and what they think.


dd worshipped her 3rd grade teacher. but her teacher adn i just could not get along. AND she did not even have a window in that class. 


so your classroom does not have much. but a wonderful teacher does not need much. she can create a beautiful and loving environment with what she has.


what matters are the relationships between the students. 


really when i look back i find i had a v. romantic idea of what public school should be like. it was totally illogical and unrealistic. while the curriculum leaves much to be desired i have been surprised by wonderful teachers.


its also good to sit and understand that life sucks sometimes. or at least it seems like it sucks. but if you let it go awhile you will see things you hadnt seen before. 


honestly though why we need classrooms i dont know. a tree and a playground would be great to teach kids. one afterschool program makes their kids do their homework outdoors. they never have trouble getting the kids to finish. the kids get upset if they are asked to do them indoors. 

 treehugger.gif Co-parent, joy.gifcold.gifbrand new homeschooling middle schoolerjoy.gif, and an attackcat.gif 
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#8 of 8 Old 09-08-2012, 03:02 PM
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OK.  Let me preface this by saying that my kids (who are 4th, 4th, and 5th graders this year) attend a program that *emphasizes* experiential learning and is a co-op (though we are a district program, follow the district curriculum, the teachers are district employees, yadda yadda).


In the 4th grade class in our program (and from then on out) they have individual desks vs. tables.  The kids actually like that, because they have their own space, and the teacher lets them decorate their desks (including keeping doodads on top) however they want (unless they abuse the privelege in which case individuals might have some rules imposed upon them for a period of time)  Yet that teacher in that classroom is one of the pioneers in our area for outside of the box teaching, respect for individual students, experiential learning, and collaboration between students.  A lot of that stuff is mainstream now.  He's been doing it for almost 40 years.  At the beginning of the year the classroom is bare--because he wants the children to make it their own, not put up his own decorations.  He gives the kids so much autonomy (while still maintaining a safe classroom environment) that a lot of parents freak because he doesn't do things like answer emails (you need to call him or write him a note), weekly newsletters, ect.  He's the only teacher in the school that maintains a total open classroom to parents anytime anywhere policy though.  The kids pretty much universally adore him.  He is totally safe for them.  He is able to push them into greater learning, because of the environment he creates *internally* for them.  Not what he writes on the bulletin board, what furniture he has in the classroom, or how schmoozy he is with the parents.


I think you are wrong to leap to conclusions based on your own personal fears.  Give it time.  You might need to get out of the way, too, as others have said, and allow your child to develop their own relationship with the teacher.  But this was curriculum night at the beginning of the school year.  The important people for the teacher to be really connected to is the students, not you as a parent.  Especially, IMO, when you leave the primary grades K-2, with 3 being a bridge year.


You'll know more about whether or not your conclusions should be adjusted in a month or two.

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