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LuvsPixieDust LuvsPixieDust is offline
 
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Asking for a teacher conference for a 1st grader
Old 02-08-2019, 09:01 PM
 
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I am a middle school teacher of 27 years, but I am trying to help someone near and dear to me who is having issues with her child's 1st grade teachers and in my opinion being WAY too strict, but then again, I am not experienced in this age group.

The child is has always been super excited about learning (maybe a little too excited at times about learning), but has a sweet heart and tries to do well. He has always loved, loved, loved school, but now is crying at night and not wanting to go to school.

Some issues--child threw up at school and then got in trouble in P.E. for not wanting to participate that day. Mother was not contacted to pick him up after he threw up. Teacher did not believe him.

Child has received checkmarks for behavior for picking up a pencil when the teacher told them to put them down while she talked. Received a checkmark for flipping open and closing his hand sanitizer top while waiting for afternoon bus dismissal. Used the sink the classroom, but did not know it was off limits so a checkmark.

There are several other things I could list that concern me. I teach in a district that is much less strict. The mom thought at first in the fall it was just an adjustment period, but it has gotten much worse. Sometimes the child does not even understand why checkmarks are given. If they get 1 checkmark for the week they don't participate in Friday Fun days.

Mom has never received any positive notes from either teacher this year.

This school has a reputation as one of the best in the state. I am sure there is tremendous pressure with test score.

As a teacher, how would you prefer a parent approach this in a conference? I am trying to give advice.

Thanks for reading. My heart is sad for my dear one.



Last edited by LuvsPixieDust; 02-08-2019 at 09:29 PM..
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Old 02-08-2019, 10:51 PM
 
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We have all had teachers with our own kids, or with kids of friends and family that sound like they are coming off as excessively harsh. But I always remind myself that I am only getting one side of the story and that I have been on the reeving end of stuff like this before. Kids tell a skewed version with the teacher as a the bad guy and them as the victim sometimes, even good sweet kids.

Before coming in hot I remind myself of the issues that I was on receiving end of the last few weeks to give myself some perspective. I also remember that just because a child says he doesnt know what he did wrong, doesnt mean he hasn't been genuinely struggling behaviorally. I had a student this year who ripped up her work and threw a chair and she had no idea why she was "in trouble". The fact is that sometimes neither side is lying, but both side need support because they are both right. The student doesnt get why he is in trouble and the teacher doesnt see how the student thinks this is about playing with a sanitizer lid when the real issue is she asked him to stop 7 times and along with 1000 times he didn't listen to her that day.

I remember stuff like that before being accusatory or coming in with a list of transgressions or blaming. Anger and the blame game help no one-the focus should be on how do we help the student, what can we do-not the list of things you have done wrong.

If a parent were going to come to me with concerns I would want them to come to me as a partner who they trusted and asked for help in supporting a child who is struggling. I would also want them to be open to the idea that their child is a different kid in class than the one they see at home. My own child is the biggest proof of this. People who knew us only outside of school were always surprised to hear that he struggled behaviorally in school when he was always the sweetest most polite, if highly energetic kid they knew. But I saw him in school and I knew the struggle was real-school is not set up for one child personal success and comfort all day with a lovely multi-adult to child ratio and when you strip that away and place a lot of demands, socially, educationally and otherwise on them for hours you see that they really might stuggle in this other setting rather than the teacher just being a "strict".

I would have her flat out ask to hear more positives though. I personally said this in my childs IEP meeting and the request was "to ensure a positive team atmosphere please have something positive to report about my child every time we communicate. Everybody has done something good even if all you can say is-"he did a good job not hitting people when he refused to do his work and eloped out the door" (just an example-my kids doesnt have aggressive actions towards others, thank the lord). The teacher may not realize she is doing this so bring it to her attention.
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She needs to meet with the teacher
Old 02-09-2019, 05:20 AM
 
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I am sorry that your friend’s child is having a hard time, but it sounds like he is giving his teacher a run for the money.

I teach first, and after the holidays I crack down on behaviors. They need to follow directions, and things like picking up a pencil when the class is told to put them down is something I hold my kids accountable for. It is probably time to listen to directions and not continue writing. He probably was told to put his hand sanitizer away and kept playing with it and making noise. And I find it hard to believe that he doesn’t know the classroom procedures for using the sink at this point in the school year.

That being said, positives always need to come first. I send home positive emails on a consistent basis, and do my best to connect with each child. When I need parents’ help, I can speak from a place of caring.

Sitting down with his teacher to find out exactly what’s going on is the way to go. It needs to be a team approach, and the child and his parents need to know what specifically he needs to work on in school. Maybe a simple checklist can be sent home each day telling how he did following directions each period.

Good luck to your friend. Open communication will help her child to have a successful second half of his year.

Last edited by Munchkins; 02-09-2019 at 05:44 AM..
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Thank you so much!!
Old 02-09-2019, 05:55 AM
 
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I appreciate the perspective from both of you! I very well know how stories change when a child tells it. I agree with both of you and I recommended when I talked to this mom that it is good to approach it as a team working together to help the student be successful.

The mom is actually dreading asking for a conference. Should she request a counselor on admin to be present or would that be inflammatory? Personally I prefer to have the counselor in the room with me.

Coming in hot at a meeting is not the way to go. I did not like it when it happened to me over the years.

Thank you so much!

Last edited by LuvsPixieDust; 02-09-2019 at 06:14 AM..
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Parent conference
Old 02-09-2019, 07:49 AM
 
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I would not go in with a counselor or anyone else, especially if this is a first conference. It feels confrontational to me.

And certainly get teacher’s side of the story before making any hasty decisions. Maybe she is too strict, maybe he’s having trouble following directions.

Also, what is the make up of the rest of the class? Maybe it’s one of “those” classes and she’s hanging on by the skin of her teeth.

Or maybe she is too strict. Your friend won’t know until she sits down and calmly discussions the situation with teacher.


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Thank you!!
Old 02-09-2019, 09:19 AM
 
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Thanks Keltikmom!
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conference
Old 02-13-2019, 05:43 PM
 
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I too would very much like to hear from the parent first without someone else there.

As a teacher I am always nervous meeting with a parent, but if we can meet as a team and focus on the fact that we both want whats best for the child.

I also agree that it is always nice to hear some positive things about the child.

However, I dont know if you said that the teacher has sent notes home about behavior or not. If the teacher hasn't sent any notes home is it possible she doesn't KNOW there is an issue?

TEAMWORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK!

Visit with the teacher ASAP! When we don't talk we envision all kinds of horrible stuff.
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Thanks,Elphaba!
Old 02-13-2019, 07:32 PM
 
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There have been NO positive notes all year. Only notes when the child makes a B. No info on A's or good behavior.

The mom did get a chance to be a class volunteer this week and she saw that other children were getting sternly reprimanded in the hallway for behavior from the teacher. So she knows her child is not being singled out.
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Less is more...
Old 02-14-2019, 05:41 AM
 
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I've come to the party late... and just have a couple of thoughts, perhaps coming at this from a slightly different perspective. I'm noting that the school has a great reputation... Mom does not think her child is being singled out...

As others have pointed out, we only have one side of the story. My guess is that some of the information is third-hand. (Kid tells Mom who in turn tells you.) I suspect there are lots of things we don't know about this situation.

One unanswered question is "Why hasn't Mom done or said anything yet?" We're five months into the school year. That's not an attack on Mom, but I like to make sure we're fixing the right problem. I'm not ready to assume the teacher needs fixing. What I suspect is a "failure to communicate" and both parties are contributing. The teacher may have fallen into a habit of noticing negatives... The one things I'm reasonably certain of is that both parties are contributing in some way to the problem.

I'll admit that I have a personal bias. I like strict teachers and wish we had more of them. That might be a different topic but a nearby high school is now embroiled in a huge controversy because they "gave in" to a "complaint" from ONE parent who thought the school was being too strict. I also--based on experience--tend to give teachers the benefit of the doubt and avoid getting involved in issues between a teacher and parent. "Talk to the teacher," is my consistent recommendation without much more judgment regarding the situation. That's what I'd expect from a colleague if a parent complained about me.

I would, in this instance, encourage Mom to not go in prepared to do battle. If she does, it will be a battle. The "team" approach is a good one. If she's "dreading" the conference, I would actually suggest she go in with some prepared non-confrontational questions like:
  • How is my child doing?
  • What can I do at home to help you and my child?
  • How can I help reward my child's good performance at school?
  • I want to help my child love (learning, reading, etc.) do you have some suggestions?

Just those questions should yield a lot of information and trigger lots of conversation with nothing to dread. The problem here may just be a lack of communication between parent and teacher.
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Thanks, MaineSub!
Old 02-14-2019, 11:45 AM
 
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I agree with you totally!! I was fine with my kids having strict teachers--it taught self-discipline and I felt the environment was safe.

I think the pendulum has swung too far in the permissive way in my community.


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