April 30, 2009,
P.P. asks from Hampton, VA on April 28, 2009
Dealing with My Child's Teacher
How do you deal with a teacher that is obviously set in her ways? My son is not the easiest to teach I will admit. However, it has been told to me that he is reading on a third grade level with comprehension. However, he is still in a first grade class for reading and the work does not seem to be a challenge for him. The teacher is very forward, which is good, however she does not seem to understand that every child is not the same. I have spoken with both principals, guidance counselors, and the teacher. She continues to whine and complain about my son. We e-mail, call, I drop him every morning. She is not consistent with the discipline in school, which makes it hard for me to speak with him about what happen at school. She has changed his color card, because he did not do his homework 1 time (which was my fault and I explained that to her). She gave him a "N" in writing not because he did not do the work, but because he took to long to do the work and three weeks later his was the writer of the month (big improvement in three weeks). The school year is almost over and I have a very negative attitude. Now you all know you are only getting my side of the story, but I open to any and all thoughts. I hope my request is clear. Thanks
1 mom found this helpful
T.B. answers from Norfolk on April 29, 2009
How do you deal with a teacher that is obviously set in her ways?
I will break this down for you P....wait until JUNE and thank God that you won't have the same teacher next year. ;)
however...there will always be a teacher that you don't agree with and your job as a parent is to deal with it and teach your child how to accept these things and know that in the "real" world they will always encounter such people!
2 moms found this helpful
A.V. answers from Washington DC on April 29, 2009
We had problems with my stepdaughter's 4th grade teacher who told us that with her 20 years of teaching, she knew better than we did...
We met with her and tried to explain certain behaviors and work with her on getting the child through the end of the year. We (all four of us) also worked with SD and told her that like dealing with a weird boss, sometimes you just have to do the work, keep your nose clean, and remember that the year will be over soon enough. We had a daily behavior report from the teacher and any day that there weren't problems SD got a sticker and after a week, she got a small reward (like a piece of candy, staying up later, etc.)
If your son seems bored in class, I'd see about getting him tested and seeing if he would qualify for any advanced educational opportunities. My stepdaughter did William and Mary in elementary school.
If the teacher continues to complain and you've unsuccessfully tried working with her, I'd take it back to the admins. Especially if it's impacting your son's education.
2 moms found this helpful
A.C. answers from Washington DC on April 29, 2009
That's a tough one. Have you tried observing classes to see your child & teacher interact?It is totally your right to do so. I am assuming you have him in public school. As someone whose kindergartener and sought employment in one to keep an eye on things myself, I know that they are in wrap up and prepare for next year mode now. Maybe, as tough as it may be, you can chalk this on up as a poor match this year and spend your extra time(I know you work) observing the second grade teachers to see who would be a good fit for you child, instead of accepting the luck of the draw. If you have had good and open communication with staff(ie. counselers, etc) this should not be a problem. These days Parental involvement is at a an all time low-they should welcome your involvement and concern. Did you really like his kindergarten teacher? Maybe ask them which second grade teacher would be a good fit for your child in their opinion. Does your school have a Literacy Intervention Support Team/person? They intervene with students who don't quite reach the bar, but that person should be very helpful in pointing you in the right direction too. If your child is bored, it will only get worse until he just doesn't pay attention at all. You are right to address this now. Unfortunately, kids get labeled so easily these days- the bad one, the funny one, the problem one, and so early in their school life.
2 moms found this helpful
B.C. answers from Norfolk on April 29, 2009
Oh dear, I know what you mean. When my son was in first grade in a private school, his teacher was teaching first grade for the first time (she went back to teaching kindergarten after one year). She literally went by the book. Sometimes when even the whole class did not understand the lesson, her method to get the point across was to repeat the same lesson only louder. I had to teach him how to alphabetize, and I didn't know how to teach that other than to sit down with him and show him step at a time how I would do it. He had no trouble with it after that. Well, look at it this way. If you get through 12 years of school (or more with collage) with only one teacher you can't stand, consider yourself lucky. My son's second grade teacher was the best, a kindred spirit, and he enjoyed it so much. He scored perfect scores across all six third grade SOL tests. He's in fourth grade now. He's gifted, and his current teacher is slowly learning differentiated teaching techniques, but still works at the pace of the slowest in the class. My son is bored, bored, bored. I told him we're going to have do this the old fashioned way. He's got to keep up his class work/grades, but that doesn't keep us from learning outside of the classroom/school. I got him some accelerated math books, he reads every book he can get his hands on (by one test, he reads at a freshman collage level), and I want to start him learning some basic Greek and Latin roots (great vocabulary builder and makes for better reading comprehension). Anything that interests him, we read about it. Work with the school as best you can. Other grades/teachers will be better.
2 moms found this helpful
S.J. answers from Washington DC on April 29, 2009
There are definitely going to be those years when you are disappointed in the teacher. I would recommend separating the the teacher's inconsistent style from your son's progress academically. As long as he is meeting your standards as to where he should be, I would recommend waiting it out. I have 3 children and my middle on can be difficult to teach/reach. He has attention/focus issues. I always tell his teachers at the beginning of the year and warn them that he needs a lot of redirection. Some years have been great and the teacher and I have had great communication. Other years, I cringe thinking about. Good Luck to you and your son.
2 moms found this helpful
K.F. answers from Washington DC on April 29, 2009
First grade is hard because that is when the kids actually start being responsible on their own...and the teacher has a tough job of gauging which kids are smart/good/bad/need help, etc...and I struggled with this as well because my daughter was very advanced. She would get bored and the teacher would get irritated if she talked too much. I had a P/T conference with her and explained that she needs more direction - and just be very specific with her about what to do with her free time...and maybe challenge her more or give her extra work - you can also coach your son at home and tell him to bring a worksheet to school to do if he gets done with work early - also ask the teacher if she can give him more challenging books - not sure how they set up reading time at the school, but usually first graders have a read at your own pace and then once they finish all of level one they can move up. As far as the discipline goes, it's very easy for a mom to be overprotective of her child, and not want them to get in trouble for a one time offense - but these formative years are when it's necessary to set boundaries - and changing their color will not harm them, but it will teach them that they need to take more responsibility for their actions. I know sometimes we feel like it's not fair or we want to take the brunt of the responsibility or consequences for our dear loved ones, but it's all in learning. Also - from the teacher's perspective, she hasn't known your child for 6 years like you have - she has around 20 kids to learn and get to know behaviors, habits, etc and you'd be surprised at some of the kids she probably has to deal with; so while you are confident in your son, she is probably not too sure because she has dealt with trouble makers, kids with learning disabilities, etc...and it's a very stressful job. So, from your end, just explain to your son how to behave, be responsible, and take initiative in his work - and eventually it will work out - the year is almost over and then maybe next year he will have a different teacher (unless it's a two-year group), and she will have different methods...and if he continues to improve his reading, then they will soon notice and maybe test him for the gifted program. My daughter is now reading on 5th grade level and she is in 2nd grade - she brings her own books to school that are more challenging and that she is interested in. Also, her teacher has learned more about her personality and what she needs (lots of attention!). My daughter would complain that she stubbed her toe or something and the teacher would send her to the nurse's office....after getting called at work multiple times, I told the teacher it was not necessary to send her every time she said she has a headache or whatever...usually she just wants a hug...so once she 'learned' that behavior, she started listening, hugging, and then letting go and I have more peaceful work days! Kids are all different, so try not to be too frustrated with the teacher....just have a conference, explain your son, express your concerns, bring some ideas, and see if that helps...since the year is almost over, try to hang in there!! Good luck!
2 moms found this helpful
C.D. answers from Washington DC on April 29, 2009
I dealt with a first grade teacher who, in my opinion, was not a good fit for first graders. Since it is the end of the year, you cannot do much more. Here is what I think. You are his mother. If this situation happens again, then I would request a change. If the school doesn't want to make a change, insist on it. Your child will be a much more productive learner if he is happy with his teachers and understands exactly what is expected of him. Most teachers (myself included) realize that consistency is the key to order and happiness in any classroom. There is hope though. Both of my daughters had one really bad teacher. We made it through the year and they have had amazing teachers all the rest of the years that they have been in school. BTW, in first grade, homework should NOT be a reason to get a lower grade or change a color card. The color card system should be used for in class behavior ONLY. I would definitely complain LOUDLY about that!! Even in middle school, if you miss a homework assignment, you have some leeway on turning it on late. Just remember, if you don't stand up and fight for your son's rights, then who will? Don't be afraid to fight for your son and making sure that he is happy at school. Good luck!!
1 mom found this helpful
A.H. answers from Norfolk on April 29, 2009
I think you should focus on your son more and not the teacher so much. You have said the teacher is good, which says a lot for her, so I feel she is doing the best she can do with 20 kids. Believe me, she does understand that not every child is the same, but unfortunately, public school was invented to teach the masses and it is much easier for that to happen if every kid is round to fit in their round holes. When you have a square peg (just an analogy, meaning a child is different), it just doesn't fit their round holes and makes it harder for the teacher to do her job. If you want an individualized education for your son, you may want to consider homeschooling. Many parents homeschool for exactly the reasons you state. Your son is probably bored and the teacher doesn't have time to give every child in the classroom an individualized education--it's as simple as that. It's no one's fault; it's just the way public education is set up.
Well, now that I've said all that, I see that you are single and also work. In my state (Virginia) a parent can choose to educate their children using a tutor. Maybe that would be an option for you. If not, you will just need to teach your son to conform to the system and to do the best he can behavior-wise and with his school work in order to learn as much as possible and to afford the other children in the class the chance to do the same. I wish you the best.
1 mom found this helpful
A.B. answers from Washington DC on April 29, 2009
School is not only a place of academia, it is a microcosm of our society. In school, our children have to learn so much more than reading, writing, and arithmetic. There, they are learning how to deal with rules, principles, and others. Using words he understands, I'd take this as an opportunity to teach him that in life, some things are just not fair, and there will be times you get people who expect you to follow the rules without any excuses. The standard is turn in your assignment. He did not. Some people have a no tolerance mindset for every infraction. You and I might believe they need to lighten up, but if you've already been to her superiors and they are not stepping in, there really is no further recourse unless you have identified your son has a specific LD (like ADD) that interferes with his ability to remember those tiny details. It is possible to be gifted and have an LD, and when that is the case, you can get an advocate to push for the accomodations that he would need. He'd have to be tested, first, though. If you know he does not have any other problem and it's just his relationship with this teacher, then you can get involved in your PTA and keep prodding and talking to more veteran parents at that school to find out what options you really have. Is there another classroom he could switch to, for instance? Should you be more involved with this teacher to help, like asking how you can challenge him more at home? You, like your son, will have to learn how to work within this classroom system, unfortunately. I know, this is silly, but talk to some of the other parents who have been through her classroom before you. They will teach you what worked for their child. If nothing else works, here are few suggestions:
*push for reading test. (A little late in the year, so they probably won't, but you can talk to a guidance counsellor to see if it's an option.) I don't think he'll get ability test for gifted/talented programs until second grade.
*offer your son an incentive for cooperating and getting involved and see if he tries a little harder at school.
*bear with it for the remaining five weeks and pray for a better teacher next year.
*become president or a member of the PTA.
*switch to another public or private school. Or,
1 mom found this helpful
L.G. answers from Washington DC on April 29, 2009
As an educator I can tell you that almost every student encounters a teacher with whom s/he clashes. Fortunately, at the secondary level, kids move from class to class. So, if there is a personality conflict, their time spent with most teachers is limited! So there's hope!
I see a few problems here:
- Your son is probably advanced, and I'm certain that the system is offering very little in terms of acceleration. You can offer enrichment on the side with tutoring; that's an option. And if money is tight, hire a high school student. For next year, make certain your son is tested and have those documents handy to support your request for accelerated instruction. Regardless of what's built into the system, each teacher should be equipped with strategies in differentiation. So if your son is at the high end, his work should be challenging. You have a right to request that.
- Having said that, don't fall into the trap of coddling or enabling your son. He didn't do his homework. That's all the teacher needs to know - unless there was some sort of hardship (a death, for example, or an illness). You can't always be a safety net for your child.
- Finally, if the teacher is not consistent with discipline, it's still your job to instill that into your child. (Ultimately, it's up to the school to ensure that teachers are effective. If she's that bad, her observations will reflect her poor instruction and classroom management.) So when your child is reprimanded for doing something wrong, have a talk with him. If there's inconsistency at the classroom level, it's even more important to stay consistent at home.
There is obviously tension between you and the teacher. ("She continues to whine and complain about my son.") You'll have to suck it up unfortunately b/c the year is almost over. But learn from this and make certain that he's challenged the following year.
And be grateful that your son is advanced! You've obviously passed along some great genes!
S.T. answers from Washington DC on April 29, 2009
now multiply your child by 20 and consider what she has to deal with.
teachers have SO much on their hands, and while it is important for them to know that each child is an individual (i could rant for hours about the current public school system which wants all children in the same boxes), it is important for you and your son to realize that the standards they have DO apply to all children and the rules don't change for your son. whether or not it was your fault he didn't do the homework, it didn't get done, period. so she is only being fair in treating him just as any other student would be treated. if you don't want this to happen, see to it that he does his homework. if he took too long to do the work, he earned that N. if later on he did terrific, that's great and he earned praise. they're two separate incidents, one does not cancel out the other.
you have to be an advocate for your child, but you should also support the teacher, whom you admit is a good one, by expecting him to do the same work and hold to the same standards as every other kid in the class. as far as the schools are concerned, every child is equally important but that doesn't mean they have different sets of rules for each one.
if you're not in a position to homeschool, you need to work within the system to the utmost that you can so that your child has a positive experience there. if you fight 'em every step of the way it's going to make things miserable for everyone.
T.R. answers from Washington DC on April 30, 2009
I am currently dealing with a similiar issue. My son is 8 and is also a handful. Unfortunately, teachers are supposed to learn what works for his/ her students and act accordingly. My son is not a trouble maker and will tell the teacher the someone is bothering him but is always told to go sit down. That becomes very discouraging and he handles it on his on, which usually ends in retaliation. After speaking with the teacher, principal and school social worker, I requested a classroom change. It is your right to request a new teacher. If it is not a good fit for your son, I suggest you do that or you request that he go into another class for reading where he is more challenged because idled children are bored children and the last thing you want and need is a bored child.
R.H. answers from Norfolk on April 29, 2009
Well first off you need to make sure what you have to say about your sons teacher is out of ear shot of him. That may be part of the prob. children act out when they know they can. If your son thinks you don't like his teacher he won't either and who knows what is going on in school when you're not there. Keep it to yourself or away from his ears. Also just because he CAN do something doesn't mean he is. He might do things for you but not in class. Other kids all around or he hears you talk about her and doesn't want to preform for her or knows he doesn't have to since you don't like her and will defend his lack of work. If you honestly believe he's above grade level have him tested. They can do it and i believe if you request it they have to. (I'm not sure of this fact) but i do know they can test him. But i also know they REALLY resist putting them in classes or groups higher than their grade level because it's more work for them. My daughter is also 6yrs old but in kindergarten. Which is annoying in it's self but i plan on getting her advanced next year because she's way above her grade level. She started out in kindergarten at a advanced 1st grade reading level. She hasn't learned anything new yet this year. She can already Add, subtract and tell complete time. So good luck with your son.