Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Worry worry worry...then worry some more

Sam's teacher says he is really smart...and then she brings down the hammer...

loud non-stop talking
can't stay focused to finish work
disrupts other students

Sam has apparently had his desk moved out into the hall (on occasion...not a permanent relocation) so that he would shut up. But even then, he can't keep his mouth shut and he finds someone at the end of the hall to loudly jibber-jabber with across the distance. Yes, he is that kid. At least, that's what I would call him. That kid.

But even with this newest revelation at parent-teacher conferences last night, the teacher still didn't want to send home behavior reports because Sam "is possibly the smartest kid in the class" and she "has some students who have much worse behavior problems."

So...I'm gathering he's bad...just not that bad. Not bad enough.

And this idiotic determination that his bad behavior doesn't rise to the level of actionable just because he's leaves me unable to focuse my anger on him where it should be as a parent. Instead, a hefty serving of what-the-hell-has-been-going-on anger is reserved for this teacher. Other than the brief notation on his quarterly report cards, I have never received any communication from her about my son's behavior. I honestly did not know he had to be moved into the hall...ever. I was totally unaware that he has been disrupting other students. Six months this has gone on (and you can bet your sweet ass that Sam has never said there was a problem)!

I have a couple major issues (and a dozen or so ancillary minor concerns that I won't bother you with here). What are the kids like that the teacher does consider that bad? And regarding my about we stop the bad behavior now so that he doesn't get to that bad? Does this teacher even understand the role she plays in setting up my son for the rest of his educational career? For example, she seemed shocked that we would request behavior reports. I'm shocked that she is shocked. How is it acceptable, on any level, to allow this to continue for six months before you discuss it with the parents? This is completely unacceptable behavior...and it is being addressed in a completely unacceptable manner.

There seems to be a complete failure of the communication system here and while I generally try to blame myself for my child's poor behavior outside of our home, I can't help but think this one isn't our fault. With paper and pencil, email, telephone and texting available, surely the teacher could have given me a heads up at some point? Or's an idea...she could even mention it when I'm at the school...every day! I don't think it's a totally crazy suggestion, do you?

And now I'm left feeling like I need to do something to clean up this mess. But I have no idea what I'm supposed to do. If the teacher can't keep control of the classroom...can't implement immediate rewards and punishments to reinforce good behavior...what am I going to do? "Remember when you were talking in class six hours ago? Now you can't play Playstation because of that." Seriously? How is that going to work? I mean, this is what we'll do and I hope I'm wrong...but I am fairly certain it's only going to serve to make us miserable at home without having any effect whatsoever on his performance IN school.

***today's update***
Sam completed all school work. Some papers were completed in hallway.


He's now been sitting at the dining room table for two-and-a-half hours completing four worksheet pages (three he didn't get done yesterday and one from last week). And one of those he only has to color. *sigh* I just want to cry.

***edited to add***
This was funny too...I waited for Sam in the gym the way I have been trained to do...for ten minutes. When he didn't show, I walked to his classroom door where I found him dressed and ready to go, but waiting for the teacher. She approached me with the above handwritten note about Sam's performance and said, "I promised your husband a daily form, but I can't seem to find it. I must have stuck it in a folder after the conference last night but I just don't know where." I'm beginning to suspect she has trouble keeping track of a lot of things.


Jenny said...

I would be upset too! Our school uses a color change system. I am so amazed at how good it works for most kids. It's a big deal if you get a color change.(Green= Good day, Blue=oops! Verbal warning, Yellow=Note home, Orange= No recess, Red=Principal's office) Perhaps Sam could have a folder with a calendar in it, and at the end of the day the teacher can let him know what his color was for the day. That way he would know he was going to either get praise or punishment when he got home. I don't know it's just a suggestion.

Jillian said...

Catherine, I can see both sides here - no doubt she is stretched to her limit with the 'bad' kids and Sam is being screwed more by the system than by her. And you are probably right in thinking you will have to get mightily involved in sorting this one out when you really shouldn't have to.

Now, you know I have a kid older than Sam and one a little younger. IMO, Sam is a) smart enough and b) old enough to not need instant reward or punishment. He is old enough to understand working towards a goal (toy or special activity or whatever) that is redeemable after x number of consecutive (or non consecutive days) of no hallway and all worksheets done. Or to incorporate Jenny's idea after a certain number of green days as determined by the teacher.

If you and she sit Sam down and explain how it works, her additional workload is limited to one reminder of his colour chart and assigning a sticker at the end of the day when you arrive to collect him.

I have totally had to recruit my kids' teachers to recitify behavioural probs either at school or home. And they are happy to do it because everyone wins in the long run.

I am sorry you are dealing with this. It seems we are all paying for the neglect of the education system :( You are a good mum. At least you give a crap. Sorry for the assvice too. I just hate seeing you feel so helpless and angry :)

Melissa said...

If he is as smart as she says he is maybe he is just bored? Is there a more challenging program within the school? Could she give him more challenging work? If he's bored with the work I could see him blowing it off and talking.

Aurelia said...

Well, you know that I have some pretty smart kids---who also have some issues. Sam may or may not have some problems. Frankly, gifted & LD go together a lot of the time.

So--yes the teacher should have said something, and you should talk to the principal. Honestly, you seem pretty unhappy with the school over time, so I wonder if you don't get much reaction or help, maybe think about transferring to another one?

Likely, Sam just has some behaviour issues and like with the toys has gotten away with some stuff and is now going to town.

So yes, tighten up on the behaviour, and then see what happens next year with a new teacher. If it doesn't change dramatically, maybe time to get an assessment? A complete psycho-educational one? Big and scary word, but in the end, he might just need more interesting work, or maybe he has a writing problem or something minor and easy to fix.

Take care, and yes you should feel outraged about that teacher. six months is too long to go without feedback.

DD said...

I have "that kid". I guess I should be thankful that he's average so that he didn't fly out of their radar.


Sam's teacher should have been informing you of his behavior right away. Isn't part of a school's education is socializing children? (plays well with others/shares/follows directions) If my son was an angel but couldn't write his name, would it be acceptable to never mention his lacking until the end of the period? No.

You might end up like me and filing a report with the principal about the teacher.

KB said...

We've been "blessed" with a less-than-desirable teacher this year as well.... and a "smart kid". Our first PT conference was scheduled for 15 minutes - she was 8 minutes late starting (I finally walked in and said YOU ARE LATE, I HAVE OTHER PLACES TO BE) and she spent 4 minutes telling me what a bright, smart, talented child I have.... and looked shocked when I asked what they could do to challenge her at school.

Thing is, I know my kid. And I know when she is bored, she acts up. Yet when I ask what they can do, they tell me to have her tested for the Gifted & Talented program.

I know her teacher is overfaced - she has 24 kindergarteners, for Pete's sake, tell me how that makes sense!! - but still, I think sometimes the smarter ones get the shaft because everyone is so focused on the ones who need more help.

Maybe Sam's just trying to make sure he's getting attention from her???

I think a lack of communication from teachers is ridiculous. It took FOUR MONTHS to hear back on a request to have my child put on the AR program, and then I was told no (which I'd assumed) because they "don't want her getting too far ahead".

Utter bullshit, if you ask me. However, given that it's "only" kindergarten, we'll finish the year and worry about what to do next year later.

niobe said...