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#1 of 22 Old 01-21-2005, 08:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I went up to my dd's school today to help their class in the computer lab (a regular Friday event) and had a bit of time to talk with dd's teacher without the kids around. The teacher is really great and we have become friends. She asked me if I was willing to spend some more time in her class each week helping one of the other students. The kindergarteners just started their Accelerated Reader program, which has them taking weekly comprehension tests on books that are read to them. One little boy, though, hasn't been able to take a test because his mother won't read to him! This, apparently, is typical behavior. The teacher has called her several times and scheduled conferences with her, but the mom never shows. And she never responds to any of the letters the teacher sends home (the boy says his mom won't ever look at any of the work/papers in his folder; she just tells him to empty his folder in the trash can every day). So the teacher asked if I would be willing to come read to him during the week. It just breaks my heart! Of course I'm going to do it, and I love that I can be so involved in the class, but I just want to snatch that mom up by her earlobe and shake her!

I swear, some people just don't deserve to have children!
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#2 of 22 Old 01-22-2005, 12:35 AM
 
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Maybe she doesn't read to him because she doesn't know how. It's very easy to be outraged at people, I agree. But let me steal a real-life story from one of my colleagues...

she used to teach. Her first year, she taught first grade. Everything was going along smoothly, and mid-year, one of her top students suddenly stopped doing her homework. The first few days she got the typical consequences or whatever (I don't know, I never asked, but I know she's normally quite rational and logical about this kind of thing-- not overboard as I'd tend to be). Then my colleague got frustrated and decided that she needed to make it clear to this child that she had to keep doing her homework. So the consequences increased--no recess, etc. Finally, after a week, she asked the little girl why she wasn't doing her homework. The little girl said, "Teacher, they cut off our electricity, and we ran out of candles last week." : Sometimes we need more details before we judge.
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#3 of 22 Old 01-22-2005, 01:36 AM
 
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Thats my first thought too. Maybe she doesn't know how to read - not something she would necessarily want to tell her kid's teacher, you know?

Or maybe she does read to him, just not his homework. I've skipped boring assignments before, but I read other stuff to my kids everyday.

And what about the child's father? Is he not responsible too?
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#4 of 22 Old 01-22-2005, 01:59 AM
 
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If you really want to know what is going on with this little boy and his mother, maybe you could call her to set up a playdate or something and talk to her a bit, get a feel for her situation.

I agree, maybe she can't read or she works two jobs and feels overwhelmed or she has mental health issues. Maybe she believes that the school should just do their job and leave her out of it. I disagree with that point of view, but I know several parents who subscribe to it.

I think it is great that you want to help this little boy.

LiamnEmma, that is such a sweet story. My kids attend a Title I school and I think some of the teachers show less compassion than they should for the kids they teach. Children seldom create the situation they find themselves caught in, in my experience.
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#5 of 22 Old 01-22-2005, 02:37 AM
 
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That is really sad... Unfortunately some parents for what ever reason are just not what others think of as "good" parents. I don't know of too many parents who tell their child to throw the contents of the folder away without even looking at it. Talk about no encouraging words for efforts well done while at school! That poor boy and his self esteem!

When I first saw this thread title, it reminded me of a situation I have and I thought I would share. What our parents did with us, is reflected in what we do with our own children...

When I was a little kid in grade school, my mother would sit down with me and the books and make me read. Of course, she couldn't make me read. I was a stubborn child. Anyway the memory is painful and I hate reading especially out loud and I hate that my mother was so insistant that I read out loud to her. Her manner was not one that made you want to do anything for her, I would sit there mouth shut tight and not utter a sound -- this would go on for as long as it took my mother to get discussed enough to send me to my room. I feel like I spent the majority of my childhood and teen years in my room if my mother was around.
Given that childhood memory, I find it extremely difficult to comply with the recommendation to read to your children. I never read to my 1st born until he was almost 3 and even then only after he asked me to, I never initiate reading a story to him or his siblings. We have tons of childrens books and adult books in the house, so it isn't as if I don't have these things. A lot of the books were my children's books growing up and they are in really good shape you can imagine.
Has it harmed him, no, I shared this story with my MIL and asked her if she would read to my children. She had been up until she fell ill about 5 mo ago.
Fortunately, I was smart enough to send him to a montessori school at age 2 1/2 and they don't make children fit the mold of "everyone reads at 5". However, he was reading a month after my 3rd child was born at age 5. Since I don't read to him often, it was shocking to discover one day him reading something by himself. He is a very good reader and has excellent phonics skills.
He now attends public school and is in 1st grade, he reads to me! He has little books he brings home at least 2X a week and he has to read them to someone and usually it's me. I am very involved in this b/c I do not want a bad memory to affect my child more than it already has. He enjoys this more than I do, but I smile and help him with sounding out the words he stumbles on.

So, it is wise not to quickly judge this mother. She may not be able to read, maybe she is mentally ill, or just has issues. It is sad when parents don't take some active role in their childs education. I personally look forward to his folder everyday to see what he has done and what he is learning! I have to beg him to bring it over to the table for us to look at together. I couldn't imagine crushing his self-worth by telling him just dump it in the can implying I don't care, I don't have time or don't want to see it.

Maybe you can be a positive influence in this little boys life. Give him complements and praise when due, he probably doesn't get any at home. You go Mama
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#6 of 22 Old 01-22-2005, 11:05 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes, some of you are correct. I am being judgemental. It's just very hard for me not to sometimes. I've never personally met the mom but the teacher did at the beginning of the year. I, too, had the first thought about illiteracy, but according to the teacher, that isn't the case. The mom appears bright, does have a job outside the home, but the mom is just very resentful of this child's existence. The father is in the picture solely because of this little boy. The father wants to marry the mom, supposedly, but the mom doesn't want to. I don't know why the teacher hasn't tried to contact the father for help, but I'll ask her about that next week.
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#7 of 22 Old 01-22-2005, 04:10 PM
 
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It breaks my heart to see children not getting what they deserve. I would probably struggle with judging this mom and be suspicious that he was neglected. But my larger reaction tends to be: "how do we make there be less of this in the world?" and focusing on individuals tends to waste a lot of energy that I'd rather use to push the wider culture away from having children be the default behavior for adults in our society. I believe that if the cultural expectations shifted so that NOT having children was as accepted and modeled in popular culture we would all be lots better off.

whoops, I'm preachin' the social gospel again.
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#8 of 22 Old 01-22-2005, 04:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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You know, part of my desire to nurture this little boy is so that he doesn't become a neglectful parent one day. I want him to value himself. I want him to know that there are grownups who love children and care about their well being. Yes, maybe, as someone pointed out, I should make an effort to get to know the mom, but you know what? I just don't have the energy or desire to do that. Heck, I don't even have the time to see my friends, the people I love to spend time with! And my dd would be horrified if I set up a playdate for her with this little boy. My dd is in a "girl friends only" phase.
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#9 of 22 Old 01-22-2005, 06:23 PM
 
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Something sounds very wrong here. Is it acceptable for a teacher to divulge personal information about a student's family to another student's parent? I'm imagining how horrified I would feel if a teacher at my child's school bad mouthed me like this to another parent. I think this teacher's behavior has been extremely unprofessional.
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#10 of 22 Old 01-22-2005, 08:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm not just another parent. I'm actually a certified volunteer for the school and therefore not allowed to divulge personal information either. So if I told you names of the people involved, I'd be acting unprofessionally. There are paperwork and background checks as part of being an official mentor for the school. And all of this is seen as necessary steps so that teachers can provide information to the parent volunteers. The teacher has the child's best interest in mind. Had I not been able to come in and read to this child, the teacher or her parapro would have to find a way to do it themselves as she would not have divulged the info to anyone else.

ETA: sorry if that comes across as defensive, but this teacher is not only a kick-ass teacher, she has become a good friend. I see on a daily basis just how far she goes to nurture her students, so I can't help but feel a bit defensive.
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#11 of 22 Old 01-23-2005, 01:11 AM
 
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I'm sorry Fianna, but I agree with Mamaduck. The teacher has no business sharing all this information with you. I volunteer in my child's classroom too, and his teacher and I make it a point not to discuss the other students. Because she knows that I'm a school psychologist (in another district), she clearly knows that I'm aware of certain issues in the classroom with certain students just on my casual observations of daily events when I'm there. But she has never divulged and I'm really glad. And to take it a step further, I have a very very good friend in my own district of employment whose ds is in a class where I've spent A LOT of time this year working with a classmate. She's made various comments to me about the child (she also works in the district but not at that school), complaints that she says her ds brings home. I address her and her ds' needs only and I've never divulged the information I have on that child. It is unethical. As a volunteer, you have no business having that information, nor would I in my child's school. That kind of information is really privy only to the teacher, principal, and psychologist or counselor. I'm sorry if this sounds rough, I really have no judgment against you, I'm just trying to make the point of the teacher's lack of judgment in this instance. It's too bad, because she is inadvertently setting that family up for negativity and targeting. I hope something works out for that child.

There's another thing I thought of too last night. My ds and dd both say wild and off-base things all the time. I could see my ds telling his kinder teacher that I told him "just throw it out." The first several weeks he told everybody that we never sent food to school with him! They were feeding him snacks and cafeteria lunches and confronted us about it! So not all that pops out of the mouths of babes is based in reality. It might be wise to take the trash comment with a little grain of salt.

Peace. I hope you are able to read to him and give him some lovin'.
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#12 of 22 Old 01-23-2005, 12:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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LiamnEmma, I think it's great that you have been able to uphold your ethical standards so well. I'm all for ethics and totally understand the need for those types of privacy issues. However, I think, like with most "rules", there are times that the individual needs of the people affected outweigh the ethical issues. This teacher saw a child with a need and knew that I would be able to address that need. She trusted that I would do so with tact and she knew that I would not go to others in the school and say, "Hey, did you hear about _____ mom?..." I understand, though, how others looking from the outside could shake their fingers and call her decision to talk to me as "unprofessinal", but we are going to have to agree to disagree on this one.

Yes, children do make up wild stories. And most teachers are used to that and do take them with a grain of salt. But in this case, the teacher's experiences with the parents seem to support much of what the child is saying. I hope he is exaggerating, though. That's too funny about your ds and the food! Although I imagine it wasn't very funny at the time. So what was he doing with the food you sent with him? Hiding it or giving it away? Of course if he was selling it and then getting free food on the side, you might have a future Bill Gates or Donald Trump on your hands! :LOL

In any case, I'll do what I can for this little boy.
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#13 of 22 Old 01-24-2005, 01:11 AM
 
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LOL about the food selling! I think he threw it away or brought it home (we'd also bought him lunch tickets in case he wanted to eat the school food too, so we weren't sweating it), I've already forgotten.

But I realize I must have sounded condescending and I apologize for that. I didn't mean to imply that I am perfect in all things related to confidentiality. I've certainly made more than my fair share of mistakes in that arena. But those stories wouldn't have made my point so well, would they? (at myself) It would have been simpler and friendlier to say that a "Hey would you be willing to read to Little Johnny? I think he needs a little more of that than some of the other students." would have given the message without the added bits...and he'd still get the help from you, kwim? Again, I apologize if I offended. I didn't intend to do that. Sometimes my foot gets stuck in my mouth before I realize it. At any rate, lucky he has you for some added reading time.
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#14 of 22 Old 01-24-2005, 01:30 AM
 
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My friend, who is incredibly bright, told me recently that her parents didn't read to her. Her mom was a SAHM, her parents were both educated, but for some reason just didn't see it as something that they were "supposed" to do, let alone enjoy doing. She doesn't know why.

Some parents from other countries (not the case for my friend) don't read to their children . . .it's just not even thought of. Teachers are highly respected in other countries so to do any kind of educating (in the formal sense) would be crossing over into the teacher's territory and considered disrespectful.

Sometimes it's just not possible, sometimes it's ignorance, sometimes it's cultural, and sometimes it's plain ol' indifference.

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#15 of 22 Old 01-24-2005, 11:51 AM - Thread Starter
 
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No offense taken, LiamnEmma! Actually I should have left the added bits out of my posts, but I was just so ticked off about it last week and really needed to vent to a group of parents who understand the importance of nurturing their children in all aspects of their lives. Now I'm a bit sorry that I didn't just go do pilates or scrub my kitchen floor!

Elena, I, too, know of parents who don't like to read to their kids. And they aren't "bad" parents, they just don't make themselves read because the don't enjoy it. I'm just such a huge advocate for helping children to learn to love to read that it makes me nuts. Reading is so empowering! And the kids in our county in public school have no choice but to participate in the Accelerated Reader program, so someone has got to read to these children. Parents are notified about this on the first day of school and then reminded repeatedly. So it's not like it's some surprise! I wish the schools would do a big push at the beginning of the year to get parent/community volunteers to be readers during the school year. It would really help everyone. Hmmmm...something new to think about trying to organize for next year!
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#16 of 22 Old 01-29-2005, 07:05 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mamaduck
Something sounds very wrong here. Is it acceptable for a teacher to divulge personal information about a student's family to another student's parent? I'm imagining how horrified I would feel if a teacher at my child's school bad mouthed me like this to another parent. I think this teacher's behavior has been extremely unprofessional.
I'm right there with you. And I'm one of the parents who doesn't read to her child every night. I have 2 other children, a husband who is always gone, and I'm going to school myself. I take care of everything there is to take care of, in and out of the house. DS's teacher sends pages home every week with little notes that say "spend 15 minutes going over these words every night", and "keep practicing". Well, problem is that DS has NO interest in these little words, and get's fed up really quickly, because he hasn't mastered phonics, and doesn't get "sound it out." And to be honest, some evenings my options are to choose between getting the kids fed and washed, or spend all that damn time trying to memorize those pages she keeps sending home. But yes, we do read 1 Clifford Phonic's book every night before bedtime, and he has learned almost every word, but I just do not have the time to do all of his 'homework' with him each and every night. Her situation could be the same.

I can just imagine how his teacher feels about me. And I would be so furious if I knew she was talking about me behind my back. You do not know this woman, or her situation. You haven't tried to talk to her about it. You're just going on what a 3rd party is saying about her. You have NO RIGHT to judge her.
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#17 of 22 Old 01-29-2005, 09:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Obviously my situation has hit a defensive button for you, and I can understand that. We all have those issues. But we all also judge. Yes, you are right--no one has the right to judge anyone if we want to get down to basics, but I have yet to meet anyone who hasn't passed judgement on someone else about something. We all have our pet peeve issues. I'm sure I've been judged many a time! But in the end we all do the best we can.

Obviously I'm not going to fight about this issue. Not going to feel defensive myself anymore either. Guess I'm just "over it".
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#18 of 22 Old 01-31-2005, 02:47 PM
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I had a neighbor who was much like that. I know she could read because she always had her nose in a trashy romance novel, but her son didn't even own a book. I witnessed her telling him to dump all his papers in the trash. Had a friend volunteered in that class (she had a son in the class). She said papers, and even reports cards were never signed. Eventually the family moved back to Virginia where in the mothers words "teachers are expected to do their job of teaching, it is not a parents job to teach. Teacher get paid enough to teach without having the parent do the job for them". Lets just say I had huge issues with that mom and with the kids behavior. Of course he could have books, but at age 5 had a real hand saw he went around vandalizing trees, porches etc with.
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#19 of 22 Old 01-31-2005, 02:54 PM
 
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I live in VA and taught in the public school system -- most of VA teachers get paid squat like the rest of the country -- $30,000 (Northern VA is higher). But to say that teaching is the sole responsibility of the teacher and thus the government is why our country is going down hill.
Do I ever wish I could have it out with people who say stuff like this!!! But then again they might be too stupid to understand that learning begins at home and ultimately is the parents responsibility. If you don't want responsibility, don't have kids.
But we can't reach 'em all. Pray for those dear children across the US that have parents who simiple do not give a rats a$$ about them.
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#20 of 22 Old 01-31-2005, 04:26 PM
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They were from Rose Hill... Which went I looked it up I found out there are 2 in VA. They are from the one in SW VA in Tobacco country. The mom is a few yr younger than me (must be about 32-34 now) and had an outhouse, no running water, no TV etc crowning up. Said the first TV she had was when she married at 14 or 15, which would have been in the mid 80's. Didn't have a bathroom until she was 11 or 12 when her parents moved.

Around here the biggest problem I think the PS's have is many kids have parents who barely speak English, and can not read or write it at all. When DS was in PS I know HW was almost non existent in 3-4 grade. The reason given was too many kids could not get help with it at home.
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#21 of 22 Old 01-31-2005, 04:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, the good news is that I went in this afternoon and read the little boy his first AR book. He was so excited! And he practically memorized the whole thing the first time we read it. He is obviously a very bright, sweet little boy. His teacher went ahead and let him take his test on the book while I was there, and he scored 100%. He was so proud and just beamed at me. Very cool.

My sister teaches in a middle school in Virginia. She is a reading specialist and boy does can she ever get WAY up there on her soap box about parents not being involved in their children's education. Parental participation drops way down in middle and high school, which is a shame. So many kids want to act cool and they don't want their parents hanging around the school, but the schools still really need their help.
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#22 of 22 Old 01-31-2005, 05:30 PM
 
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I knew a woman who never would go to parent-teacher conferences for her child. She'd say "I don't have anything I need to discuss with the teacher." I guess it didn't occur to her that the TEACHER had something to discuss with her? Also, she'd say, "I know my child better than anyone. No teacher can tell me anything I don't already know." (This woman had many relationship problems, to say the least... let's just say that if you ever disagreed with her, you'd be on the receiving end of her temper.)
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