Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Parent-teacher...humiliation?

So I'm no expert on parent-teacher conferences. This was my first. But since I couldn't sleep at all last night due to my weekly pre-appointment freakout, I had some time to think about it and pinpoint exactly what bothered me...

I have never seen my son so humiliated in all five plus years of his life.

The notice said to bring our child with us. So we did. Immediately upon arriving in the classroom, the dog and pony show began. The teacher trotted out laminated cards with little tests of skill on them...I know how to count to ten...I know how to spell my name...I sit quietly and listen in class...[insert sound of tires screeching to a halt right here]...

"Sam has been making some poor choices in who to imitate in class. I have one little boy who has behavioral issues and, unfortunately, Sam is following his lead and imitating his behaviors. I would like it if you could work with him at home on making better choices regarding who to imitate."

Poor choices? Behavioral issues? Who to imitate? What the...?!?!

Sam knew exactly what she was talking about. After the conference, when asked who he was imitating who was misbehaving, he offered up a name without a moment of hesitation. I don't doubt this is happening. In fact, I've been surprised that I haven't heard anything like this up until this point. My son tends to go for the laugh...the joke...the way to make everyone laugh. He is in his heart of hearts a class clown (he gets that from both his parents...neither of whom can stand for awkward silence in any conversation). Sam does it for the attention...because it is a way to get everyone to like him. And yes, I'm sure part of it has to do with our family's story...it is a way for everyone to smile and feel better when we all otherwise feel like crap. And yes, I'm sure part of it has to do with the much-anticipated arrival of Baby Myles. Truth be told, I have lived each day with the expectation that some sort of notice would be coming home eventually...but none never did (though now I am wondering if the whole wait-in-the-gym thing wasn't more about SAM'S behavior than mine).

But I have to ask...where the HELL has this teacher been? What happened to the system, very clearly spelled out in the orientation materials, that would keep us informed as things progressed...so we could intervene as necessary as his PARENTS?

I froze and couldn't speak...couldn't ask the questions that were racing through my mind.

Thankfully, my husband had a better head on his shoulders at the moment and asked, "Is there something we should have been getting from you to indicate that this was a problem?"

Her response? She has 45 "of them" and she just can't "do that for every student." Besides, she "didn't think it was such a problem" that it needed addressed immediately.

So her goal was to ignore it as long as possible...bring my unsuspecting son to parent-teacher conferences...ambush him by sharing this information with us in his presence...and humiliate him into compliance.

I wanted to cry. Actually, I want to cry now, remembering his little face with all the embarrassment and confusion so clearly written there. She didn't even TRY to balance it with kudos. She asked HIM what HE thought he did well...she didn't offer positive reinforcement of her own volition. I am...what is the word?...horrified.

I don't mind working with my son on the things he needs to improve upon. As I told the teacher, we have recently had behavioral issues at daycare and have had to address them by instituting a system of rewards and punishments (a system that really works IF you know there is a problem). I KNOW that this is an area where he needs work. But this method of presentation seriously broke my heart. His beloved teacher...who he trusted...did it this way deliberately...because it was convenient for HER. Can there be ANY valid reason for doing this to him?

Further...better choices on who to imitate?!?! I don't want my son imitating anyone! I want him to grow and learn and be himself. Yes, I want him to learn basic manners and appropriate classroom behavior...but I don't want him to get there by pretending to be someone else! My son is unique and special and I will NOT stand for ANYONE telling him that's not enough...that he should imitate another.

I am at a loss. Well and truly at a loss.

18 comments:

Kathy McC said...

It doesn't matter if she has 100 kids. If it was a problem, she should have alerted you before...and certainly not in front of Sam. Sounds like it's time to meet with the principal. She is bizare...

pipsylou said...

oy. As a former teacher let me just tell you what she said was said to cover her own ass. She didn't like his behavior but did nothing about it. Now she's dumping the "problem" in your lap. She's lazy.

If you weren't 11 days out from having Myles (really, who's counting?) I would say that you should request another meeting with her and share some of the things you wrote here. That is so totally unacceptable; what she did. I'm not excusing Sam's behavior, but does she know at all about what your family has been going through?

Doesn't sound like the chick has a compassionate bone in her body. Really, it all boils down to laziness. And that is a terrible trait in a teacher.

Were I a gambling woman I would say that she became a teacher so she could feel power. She certainly didn't do it for the love of children.

Can you switch classes?

I would definitely go back and tell her you want to be told about problems before they escalate. She owes you that much, simply by nature of her job.

Marcia said...

I agree wholeheartedly with kathy mcc! Time to get the principal involved, with clear documentation of all of the situations you have been describing since school started. There is NO excuse for doing that to Sam last night!!! None! This is not just a personality conflict between teacher and parents...it is horrid violation of everything this woman should have learned in her education classes in college (if not just common sense!) about child development and how to address behaviors that need changing! No wonder your B/P was up this morning!!
I just read pipsylou's comment, while "previewing" mine. She is being kind in saying you should go to the teacher, again, first. Perhaps I over-reacted...but, most definitely SOMETHING needs to be done about this before Sam is hurt any more by it!

Becky said...

I am so, so, sorry about this. What a terrible horrible person his teacher is. While I have my own struggles with my child's school, it is nothing compared to this. You need to get him out of there if you can.

I am at a loss.

MB said...

WTF? There is no excuse. None. Talk to the principal and get poor Sam out of there. Nasty woman.

Candy said...

As the wife of a teacher, and a student-studying-to-be-a-teacher, I am ever mystified by people who choose teaching as a profession.

I can only commiserate and tell you that last year, I had to bring one of my daughter's teachers (who she has every year and who always makes her cry at some point) into a meeting with the Vice Principal and my husband (the teacher) and this guy almost got into fisticuffs.

I don't know what to say, except to tell you not to take it lying down. You have to squeak, or you get no oil.

Jill said...

No, no, no, no, no and no. The timing of this is appalling, but I would be tracking back over all your previous posts here to construct a manifesto of her shit attitude and ability. I would also be sending it directly to her with a CC to the principal. Not forgetting to mention that action needs to be taken by Friday because you will have more pressing issues to deal with after that time.

She's an arsehole, simple as that. Would be in any job. But that she has that kind of contact with kids at such an impressionable age is wrong.

I know how it is with those meetings. I never speak up in them and even the little points get shot down to save the teacher extra effort. If you deal with yours, I'll deal with mine - agreed?? Good luck. And send Sam to school with Jellybeans and red drink in his lunch box tomorrow and see what she makes of THAT behaviour! Or teach him to imitate HER! The walk, the talk...heehee. Ok, I'll grow up now;}

Aurelia said...

Just go to the principal.

While you are there, you might want to point out that making you and your child more emotionally distressed at this point in your pregnancy is frankly unethical torture.

The school must know your history, and if Sam was acting like a perfect model student right now, I'd be shocked.

My mother and all her sisters, and all my relatives were teachers, and NEVER EVER would they do this.

If any teacher EVER did this to my kid, they'd have been fired as soon as I could spit fire.

This teacher is a bitch.

And 45 kids? WTF?

Brenda said...

I was a childcare worker and have worked with 6 week old - 5 year olds. If it wasnt a problem that she felt she needed to talk to you about as the year has gone on then it wasnt enough of a problem to bring up in front of Sam!
45 kids in no reason either.

Give Sam a big fat cuddle.

Hugs
xxx

Monica said...

I'm sorry that this happened to you. As a teacher I feel like I should apologize on behalf of the profession. We are not all asshats like this woman.

She should never have allowed the situation to get this bad. She should have called you and let you know the steps SHE was taking to correct it in the beginning. If those failed to work, she should call you again and ask for your suggestions (if she did not do that during the first call). I agree that she is lazy and just wanted to create less work for herself by addressing it on parent conference night.

I'm also troubled by how many students she has. 45? Ask the principal for the class sizes and see if the classes are leveled. Some teachers (a lot of times the ones they want to get rid off) get larger classes. Is this a public or private school? Public schools generally have caps that prohibit more than 25 students in a class in elementary grades (although some schools can get waivers). Forty-five students is just way too much, especially with this teacher. Good luck and don't be afraid to go to the principal. You so do not need this kind of stress.

Julia said...

Man, this sounds bad.
And a complete opposite of our conference, where no children were present, and yet the teachers were saying things, even the criticisms, in the nicest possible form. And telling us all the time what they are doing to deal with the issues, however mild they are. Damn! And this is such a bad time for all of this.

Would you consider telling Sam that you understand that he was humiliated and you are sorry? I think knowing you don't approve of him being put in a position like that would go a long way. Taking on the school is probably also inevitable, but likely can wait for Myles.

Bon said...

i am so, so sorry. that's not okay for the teacher to address that issue that way, nor to excuse it by saying she doesn't have time to address it more personally or in a less humiliating way.

i'm a teacher, and years ago i taught little ones. yeh, i had 45-50 kids, because i had a morning class and an afternoon class. yeh, it was stressful. i gather this situation is similar, and the school has already made some odd accommodations for the crush like making the kids eat with their coats on. but if this is acceptable in the view of the school, i'd take Sam out.

of course, i recognize the timing is terrible...and you don't need the extra stress. but seriously...it's kindergarten. the most important lesson he can learn in kindergarten is trust and cooperation, and it doesn't sound like this teacher inspires either.

again, really sorry that happened to you guys and to poor Sam.

Ruby said...

I have nothing more to add than has already been said in the previous comments.

I'm just so sorry for you and Sam:(

kate said...

where's my *&^#@%@ comment? I left it yesterday! I essentially agree with everyone else. My comment can be summarized by 'WTF!?! Talk to the principal!'

Kendra's mom said...

I would seriously consider taking Sam out of there. Does the school know your history? I know it is hard to tell strangers esp hostile strangers (which is what this teacher seems to be) but if Sam is to remain there then maybe you should have a chat with the principal (not the teacher) and explain that they can probably expect some acting out from Sam as he is going through a tough time right now. Obviously you are stressed out and it is bound to rub off on him. But that teacher really sucks! And that class is way too big. It should be split in 2 and Sam should go in the half which has a different teacher!

Really bad timing. I hope you are ok today. Please keep a close eye on the preeclampsia thing, it strikes very fast. Good luck for Sunday and keep us posted. Am on tenterhooks.....

neko said...

So sorry this is being added to the stress card. As a future teacher I will put this post on the mental "how not to treat a student and parents" list.

Good luck, I hope that a resolution is found that is positive for Sam.

pipsylou said...

ok, can you post? because i have this feeling that you've gone and had your baby.

Carole said...

I am just so sorry. This teacher needs a kick upside the head. What kind of teacher discusses this stuff in front of the child? Any chance of you going to the principal with this? Wishing you luck.
~Carole