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Seeking Constructive Suggestions for Teacher Conference


Minsanity
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Really not looking to complain or vent here, looking for suggestions. I know there are many people on this forum that are wise and I would love your thoughts.

I have a teacher conference coming up for my daughter who is in 6th grade this year. While she is old enough and strong enough to handle her teacher, I'm wondering if there is a way I can constructively express my concerns about the way the teacher handles her frustrations with her job and students. From the rumor mill it is apparent that there have been multiple and extensive complaints before so I assume she will expect some. I'm hesitant to approach her because she is already punitive with the students and suspect she does not have the maturity to separate any concerns I express from my daughter.

A couple examples of the dynamic we are dealing with.

My daughter did not have a paper the second week of school. Julia was apologetic and didn't think she ever received one, teacher didn't believe her and long story short said she would give her this replacement but that she would never replace a paper again.

A few students didn't understand rules for a game and asked for clarification so she told them then they would not play. Later she did allow them to play a limited version.

A couple children didn't understand prime numbers after it was described to them and asked again. Teacher said if they didn't understand then there would be no math game and the students had to do worksheets instead of the math game.

Daughter didn't get something right today in math and the teacher told her that she should have known it in kindergarten. There was no audience for this at least.

Many more examples but I think this gives an idea of what we are dealing with. She may not realize how this behavior is teaching the children not to speak up if they have questions or problems but that is what comes screaming to me.

As I said my daughter is for the most part not letting the teachers behavior get under her skin but some days it is difficult. As this started to unfold, we decided to keep a "memory book" of all the things Mrs. R. did and that we could give it to her at the end of the year (of course I would not) and every day I'd joke with my daughter about what we could add to the book and when she had nothing I told her I was very disappointed not to have an entry. This really did help to keep us both objective. I'm afraid though that if she comes across as I have heard she does in teacher conferences that I may get angry and it might be better to have prepared some thoughts ahead of time.

Any suggestions you fine wise people have would be appreciated.

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Have you talked about this teacher's behavior with the guidance consellor or the principal? Or with other parents, like at a PTA meeting? You might ask the guidance cousellor or principal to sit in on your conference.

I think I posted this once before, but when one of our sons was in middle school he brought home a letter from a teacher that was an "invitation" for him to be in her "advanced" English class. When I'd read over the letter, which implied that if he learned anything it would be because she was such a brilliant teacher; and if he didn't, it was because he was dumber than a brick, I asked him if he wanted to be in her class, and he proceeded to tell me what the general scuttlebut was, and that he didn't want to, but she was adamant about getting the letters back. So I figured, OK, sister, you asked for this, and I took my little red Bic and proceeded to correct all the spelling and grammar errors in her missive and added a note of my own at the bottom that said if the letter was an example of the kind of English she taught kids, I'd rather he continue to learn correct grammar and spelling at home, thank you; and I told him if she waid anything to him to bring the priincipal in on it and invite me to come to school to explain things. The letter was delivered, apparently no one said anything, and that was the end of nasty letters home.

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As a former elementary teacher and a mother I would have concerns and reservations about this teachers attitude also. I would not go above her, however, as this might lead to further negativity towards your child. I am calling it "negativity" because from what you wrote, none of her responses were in the least bit positive or helpful, only punitive. I would speak to her supervisor , tell them your concerns just as you have written them here and perhaps ask that someone sit in on the conference with you and the teacher. If this doesn't go well with the teacher then I believe there is something seriously wrong here. Its hard to tell you what to do but from what you wrote you have every reason to be concerned. Good luck and hopefully things can be worked out between you in the best interest of your child.

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Having a 3rd party witness is imperative with this kind of situation so it doesn't turn into a he said/she said scenario.

Speaking with parents of former students might be a good idea as well. It might give perspective as to what has been said or done or tried in the past and how it was or wasn't received. It might also let you know if this is a "tough up front" but more relaxed later in the year kind of teacher or if it continues. You can also check to see if any formal complaints have been lodged against her. Those are a matter of public record and not just hear-say. As a last resort there are public educational advocates that can be hired if the school system isn't stepping up to take care of the situation. Good luck.

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I am in agreement with everything Holly,Roxie,and Selkie said. I'm still afraid I would be sorely tempted to ask for a transfer for my child out of this woman's class! BUT,that wouldn't solve the problem-this teacher's immature attitude.This person took the time to get an education in this field,so I have to hold on to the hope she is doing something she wants to be doing. Children deserve teachers who are in it with their hearts first and the paycheck (meager or not) second! Hopefully,the principle will take this request to sit in as a call to attention and something positive can come from it all. On the other hand,the teacher may be just totally in a miserable job-we don't know that the principle isn't a pain to work with/for behind closed doors,unfortunately! Hopefully,though,everyone will act in a mature way for the child's benefit!

Meantime,continue to document everything,and I mean Everything! It was a different circumstance,but this did help me defend my older boy one year when he was being constantly bullied by another child who was getting away with it. Good luck and try to stay calm-I know how you feel,as this child is your treasure! Bless you for taking her seriously and being there for her!

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Cynthia,

Your thinking was correct in every way. I read the above responses and felt really good about them. I will chime in here from a different perspective. I am not a current or former educator or therapist. I am a former victim of more than one very bad teacher. 1st and 3rd grade were a nightmare. I am 52 and still vividly remember these two awful years. It seems to me these comments appear the teacher is harming these children mentally. Like being so demeaning does to one. Here are some points I guarantee are more important than any involvement with the teacher or school.

1) Let your daughter know you believe her.

2) Listen to what she says.

3) Do not allow her to feel it's her fault.

4) Help her to understand there are better days ahead.

5) Never forget, you are her teacher too and you can teach her to be a better person than this teacher obviously is.

Anyway, I think you get my point. You being the great Mom you is the most important thing.

Good Luck!

Morgan

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I'd want more information about the teacher's style and what other parents/students have to say about their experience in her classroom.

The real issue for me would be whether or not this teacher's negativity was effecting your daughter's self esteem or discouraging her interest in the subject matter or in school itself. Is it impacting her performance? Is she less interested in subjects that she was previously enthusiastic about? Has she started to dislike school where she used to enjoy it?

I don't know how 6th grade is structured where you live or if this teacher is your daughter's only one all day or if she has other classes and teachers, but if this is the only teacher your daughter will be dealing with during the day, and there are any negative behaviors developing because of this treatment, then I'd be tempted to move her immediately and notify the school about the problem.

It could be a great opportunity for your daughter to learn about dealing with difficult people (we all have to learn this) or it could be a bad experience that will sour her view of education (and that would be unacceptable to me.) This is a tough call.

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Have you talked about this teacher's behavior with the guidance consellor or the principal? Or with other parents, like at a PTA meeting? You might ask the guidance cousellor or principal to sit in on your conference.

I think I posted this once before, but when one of our sons was in middle school he brought home a letter from a teacher that was an "invitation" for him to be in her "advanced" English class. When I'd read over the letter, which implied that if he learned anything it would be because she was such a brilliant teacher; and if he didn't, it was because he was dumber than a brick, I asked him if he wanted to be in her class, and he proceeded to tell me what the general scuttlebut was, and that he didn't want to, but she was adamant about getting the letters back. So I figured, OK, sister, you asked for this, and I took my little red Bic and proceeded to correct all the spelling and grammar errors in her missive and added a note of my own at the bottom that said if the letter was an example of the kind of English she taught kids, I'd rather he continue to learn correct grammar and spelling at home, thank you; and I told him if she waid anything to him to bring the priincipal in on it and invite me to come to school to explain things. The letter was delivered, apparently no one said anything, and that was the end of nasty letters home.

Oh this did make me laugh out loud and hard!!!

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Thanks to all for the suggestions and thoughts. I do know a number of parents who had her and was told here were a large number of parents who "hated her" which I was a bit surprised by, but I chose not to talk with them as I expect they would just get me more riled up and I think the calmer I stay the calmer my daughter will be. She really does see this as the teachers problem, and fortunately she is very respectful and polite regardless.

I did place a call to a friend who is usually pretty reasonable about such things who had a daughter in her class a couple years ago.

I really appreciate everyone's thoughts and Morgan, you reminded me that it isn't just my daughter in the class, there are other children who don't do as well with a teacher like that.

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Cynthia, I think the consensus is for you to get that third adult in on this conference with you. If other parents have such a negative attitude towards this teacher, some word hopefully has trickled to the school administration and the principal or guidance counsellor should be willing to sit in.

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Cynthia, I'm so sorry you and your daughter have to dal with this. It's so wonderful though that you are involved and concerned.

I have done the same as Holly, mark up a teacher's letter, more than once I'm afraid.

I'm not very patient or tolerant when it comes to things like that. I have withdrawn a child in the middle of the year, homeschooled twice, put my house up for sale to move into a different district, and finally taken my kids out of the school district all together. One thing I wish I had done is take advantage of a perk I have as an employee, and kept my son at a school when we we're redistricted out of it. That made for 3 frustrating years.

Anyhow, I'm not much help, but I hope everything goes well and you are able to keep your calm, and that some good comes of it.

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I was a teacher at one point, and the gods only know that there are good, bad and ugly in every profession!

I second the idea of bringing a witness (and the guidance counsellor or resource teacher would be a good bet...but not your hubby). This is protective for all parties. Perhaps not the principal, as my guess is this teacher is going to go into parent/teacher night defensive to start with, and bringing in "da boss" may put her back up.

Either she is burnt out, or has found herself in the wrong field. Poor thing, she could have been me, except I was in a position to leave before I became that negative.

Pardon spelling errors! Never my strong point (I did my first master's degree on using Whole Language with LD students. Misspelt "language" every single time)

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