Feedback needed on email sent to difficult child's teacher

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Jules71, Sep 20, 2007.

  1. Jules71

    Jules71 Warrior Mom since 2007

    I would love some feedback on an email I sent to difficult child's teacher and her response back. (I will post her reply next)

    Hello Mrs. X,

    I just wanted to remind you to please send me the information regarding the meeting about difficult child scheduled for October.

    Also, difficult child mentioned to me yesterday that last Friday (picture day) he was not able to go to the library with the rest of the class because he had to “go take a test”. He said it was with other people who work at the school and it took place in the office. Is that correct? I have given my consent in writing for difficult child to be evaluated for special services. However, I would like to know when and what testing is taking place. Perhaps it could also take place before/after school or during a regular lesson in your class so he does not have to miss out on special things (like library day/time).

    Do the children have the opportunity to be helpers in the classroom (i.e. calendar helper, weather helper, hand out papers, line leader, door helper, etc.)? If so, how does that work? I know difficult child thrives by being able to do jobs like that.

    I would also really like to collaborate with you on ideas to help minimize difficult child’s frustration in the classroom. We know he likes the block center and he gets frustrated when he either cannot go to that center or has to leave that center. How is center time structured? Do all the children visit each center or just one or two centers? Is it timed and then the children rotate? What are some things that may help with his frustration in this area? He has also mentioned his interest in a sand center that is not open right now. Are there things you need for this center?

    Are there other specific things that seem to ‘set him off’? When I asked difficult child about him licking the garbage can (as you told me on 9/13), he told me he wanted a drink from the drinking fountain and he said you would not let him and then he got in trouble and then he licked the garbage can. Is that correct? (I’m not certain I get the completely correct story from him.) If this is so, I am wondering about the possible sensory issue we talked about and maybe he got it fixated in his head that he wanted a drink so badly that he needed to have that or some other sensation on his tongue? I don’t know – just a thought.

    I think it really helps to know what specifically triggers his frustration or unacceptable behavior. If you could please keep your eye out for those things and let me know, I would really appreciate it.

    Sorry to hear we will miss you on curriculum night. I appreciate you working with us and look forward to hearing back from you on these issues.

    Thank you,
    X
     
  2. Jules71

    Jules71 Warrior Mom since 2007

    (Her response)

    Hi X,
    Meeting date is Oct. 4th at 8:00 am. Every child in K is tested by the KAT screening and the DIEBLES testing wither this week or last week. difficult child's was last Friday for about 8-10 minutes. Yes it was during our library time. But I explained to him that all we did was walk through the library to see it which only took about 2 minutes. We did not really have library day because the real librarian was out sick and we did not want to confuse the kids. This Friday is our real day for library to here the rules of the library, hear a book,a and check out a book if his signed library form is turned in. So no special education testing has been done. We have 25 days to look at difficult child first and decide what will be best for him and we have to meet on the 4th to do this.
    Next week our classroom helpers start for calendar person and line leader/door person. There will be a new person each day for the jobs. So difficult child will complain to you that he didn't get to do a job. But he will it eventually. Now yesterday I gave him a job to do of holding my stack of # 4 papers and he didn't want to do this so he threw them on the floor and then rolled in them. I thin more of an attention getter.
    I think the best way to minimize his frustration is for me to be very consistent and let him know what is going to happen next. And remind him that he is not the only student in here and he cant always be first of go to that center first. He have to teach him a way to successfully be frustrated by not let it out on other kids around him or things that he could throw. And this is gong to be very difficult to do! Center time is structured in a way that I first choose 3 kids to go to ABC and Math and the rest choose their center and then they move freely about the centers during the 40 minutes. But I remind them that I have the right to ask kids to pick up and move on if they are being too noisy and I have given reminders. Or if they have spend too long at the given center and others kids would like to be there. If they are choose to go to ABC or Math they must play 3 or more games to move on to another center. difficult child was choose to play at math yesterday and played his games very successfully and with no complaints at all. And then he moved on to block center and built a race track. But when he and the other 2 child ren were asked to pick up he got mad and through blocks and bit Chase on the arm. difficult child was observed by X our school psychiatric.. yesterday and difficult child was interested in him but on the verge of always trying to get his way or do something different then we were doing.
    The licking of the garbage can- he can go get a drink of water anytime he wants. But when he gets up to go during a lesson he makes a huge disruption because he wants all of the attention on him. I would not mind if he would just get up get the drink and sit back down. But he will go back there and start playing around and yelling for the attention or to not come back to the lesson. Well I will talk to you later. I hope this email helped.
    X
     
  3. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    Do you have any specific concerns?
     
  4. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Jules...

    Was that second email copied and pasted exactly as you received it from his teacher?????

    If so...is he in a real kindergarten? Like not a pre-school or nursery school..but someplace that teachers have to be certified and go to college for 4 years and then get teaching credentials?

    Because if so, oh heavens...you must live in my area! Nuff said.
     
  5. Jules71

    Jules71 Warrior Mom since 2007

    Janet,
    Yes, it was copied and pasted exactly the way she wrote it (with the exception of me changing names). Yes, it is a real Kindergarten in a real school district. I cannot believe the spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc. Holy moly. I thought his teacher last year was bad. She wrote terrible newsletters and always had run-on sentences. She even mis-spelled Kindergarten (Kindergarden) on his certificate for completing Pre-K.

    Smallworld,
    I think my concerns are:

    1) We have 25 days to look at difficult child first and decide what will be best for him and we have to meet on the 4th to do this.
    *Is this correct. I still have not received anything from the school district about the certified letter I sent on 8/30 asking for him to be evaluated. I don't even know what this meeting is on 10/4 and she said I would not get anything in the mail about it.

    2) So difficult child will complain to you that he didn't get to do a job.
    *He might not complain, he might just not understand - no matter how many times you tell him. Is she already seeing him as a "problem"?

    3) Now yesterday I gave him a job to do of holding my stack of # 4 papers and he didn't want to do this so he threw them on the floor and then rolled in them. I thin more of an attention getter.
    *Did she ask him if he wanted a job? Did she give him a choice, or just tell him to do it? We all know most difficult child's need to feel in control and have choices. I am not sure about it being an attention getting thing.

    4) I think the best way to minimize his frustration is for me to be very consistent and let him know what is going to happen next. And remind him that he is not the only student in here and he cant always be first of go to that center first.
    *My impression from her is that she thinks by cracking down and being firm, he will comply. We all know most difficult child's don't handle that well. I also don't think she understands fair does not have to mean the 'same'. You do not have to treat/discipline each child the same to be fair.

    5) But when he gets up to go during a lesson he makes a huge disruption because he wants all of the attention on him. I would not mind if he would just get up get the drink and sit back down.
    *Maybe he cannot control himself. Maybe he feels badly that he can't follow the rules like the other children. Again, I don't think he likes when everyone looks at him when he is behaving inappropriately.

    When I picked him up today, she did not even look at me or tell me how his day was and I stood there quite awhile with my son. Finally we left. I am frustrated. The school psychiatric and I are still playing phone tag. He observed him and spoke to him yesterday, but did not tell me he was going to do that. Does he have to?
     
  6. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    No, the school psychiatric doesn't have to tell you. You can request to know in advance when testing, etc is going to take place, but that doesn't mean it will happen. I requested to be notified in advance for anxiety reasons, but never was. Extremely frustrating.

    1. I'm not sure what they mean re: point #1. You should ask about that on the Special Education Board.

    2. Poor choice of words, however she did explain the process to you so if difficult child does come to you about not having a job you can reinforce the procedure.

    3. I'm not sure if the teacher should be giving students a choice. I understand difficult child's need to feel in control, however they are going to have to live in the real world. We all have to do things we don't want to do.

    4. I think it would be extremely unfair to the other children if difficult child was always the first to get to go to the center. I didn't read that she was cracking down into that statement. I think being consistent and letting him know what is going to happen next is perfectly reasonable...and a good idea.

    5. He may very well not be able to control himself. However, there are other students in the classroom and a difficult child that can't control himself is a big distraction. How to address this would be handled in the IEP and BIP, if you have one.

    It bothers me that she sees his behavior as purely attention-seeking as opposed to possibly something out of his control. I would take issue with that. I don't think your difficult child has a diagnosis, correct? Once he does, I would make it my mission to educate those in contact with difficult child as to what his diagnosis means and how it manifests.

    Her writing is atrocious. I've received things from the school that I've been soooo tempted to correct and send back, but I've managed to restrain myself. It was hard though. :rofl:
     
  7. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Jules, you wrote: 'Is she already seeing him as a "problem"?'
    Given the behaviour the teacher has described, I would say - yes. But this would be understandable.

    From what you are posting, you seem to have generalised concerns about how he is going to be handled as part of a large group, and how he will respond to this. You also have concerns about some basic mechanics in her spelling and grammar, for example.
    Now I don't know about schools in the US, but our current affairs programs were looking at OUR teachers (and kids) last week. The reported level of literacy and accuracy is woeful. Plus I've observed myself - in the population in general, including in school, spelling and grammar are of a much poorer standard than when i was growing up; even a worse standard (I feel) than ten years ago. I've also noticed poor standards in the local school's weekly newsletter.
    I've worked as an editor as well as a writer, so perhaps I'm more sensitive to it. Also, difficult child 3 is determinedly accurate in these matters. We go shopping and in the supermarket the printed signs overhead tell us which is the "confectionAry" aisle, or the "stationAry" one. (I would hope the aisle is not moving!)
    Teachers do seem to have much lower standards of spelling and grammar - I remember hearing a college lecturer giving a talk and she repeatedly made the grammatical mistake of "The student showed her work to her professor and I" - perhaps because saying "me", even at the right point of the sentence, sounds too coarse. I've noticed that when this mistake is made is is almost always in preference to using "I" incorrectly, rather than using "me" incorrectly.
    Some of this (in Australia) we can ascribe to our massive influx of migrants in recent years (most of whom do not have English as their first language) but frankly, it is the English-speaking who I fear are the worst culprits. The misplaced apostrophe is now such a common mistake that even editors are failing to correct it in many cases. And in emails and text messages, not only have we become lazy but the use of informality and shorthand also means these are usually full of "mstayks". Don't sweat it. As long as somewhere in her head she KNOWS how to teach this correctly, I don't think this is an issue. Keep an eye on it, teach your son correctly in your work with him at home, and just leave this one for now.

    What I'm saying here - from what I saw, her writing is far more skilled than many a missive I've seen from Aussie teachers. Tragic, but a fact of life. And even though difficult child 3 has had teachers of such a poor standard (grammatically) he has still become extremely skilled.

    Your correspondence with the teacher - both letters were well-mannered, supportive, positive and clearly aimed to foster communication and cooperation between you. I though they were both highly effective and augured well for future constructive support for difficult child.

    Of course you and the teacher will have different ideas on how you want difficult child to be handled. She has her own ideas because she is a trained professional. Until you have your meeting, she is going to be trying her own methods first, even though any advice you can give her, she will consider as part of the process. She does not have to automatically do everything exactly as you want - and speaking from my own experience, this was like a bucket of cold water in my face, when it was difficult child 3's placement in school I was dealing with. And I had already had three kids go to school - I should have known what to expect.

    In your case, he is your first child to go to school. So not only are you having to adapt to your baby being at 'big school', you also are trying to ensure his difficult child needs are being tended. Frustrating, nerve-wracking and likely to make you seem obsessive. However, she did respond to your letter very carefully noting each point you had made - a lot of teachers wouldn't give you that courtesy. You don't agree completely with each other but she's not only giving you a hearing, she's answering you. She sounds like a really good teacher for your son.

    But you ARE in disagreement over some things, you ARE concerned. You have both made a good start on communication, so I strongly suggest you continue.

    I do recommend you consider using a communication book - your son sounds like you and the teacher would both welcome this and benefit from it.

    A Communication Book (the Marg version) is an exercise book which travels in the child's bag between home and school. At home, THE PARENT is responsible for putting the book in his bag in the mornings, and taking it out and reading anything in it in the afternoons. You write your comments (I would do mine on the computer, print it, cut it out and stick it in the book - quicker and easier for the teacher to read as my writing is shocking).
    And at school, is it THE TEACHER who is responsible for the book being removed from the child's bag, reading it, adding notes and putting it back. You do not at any time make the child responsible for the book. This communication is too important - if you want to teach the child responsibility, do it with something more specific to the child's own world - his raincoat, for example. His sweater. Not the book.

    So you write in the book anything relevant to that day, or if you have larger concerns (such as your concern that the teacher is trying to use stern discipline) or to reinforce something good the teacher is trying to do (such as her comment that she is going to give him advance notice so he can task change more readily). You keep the tone similar to what you used in your letter and everything should be very positive. The immediacy of the Communication Book is its main benefit - you find out the same day (ideally) if there was a problem and you've got it in writing (probably informally, but it's easier to get the information straight). If you disagree with anything the school has done in a situation, you can respond by next morning. Or if something the teacher has said in the book makes something 'click' for you, something you've also observed but not quite understood, you can respond more immediately in your dealings with your own child. An example of this - difficult child 3 had been difficult at school for the previous two days. He had been fine at home although quieter than usual. Then his behaviour went right off scale at school and his teacher sent him home - at home, difficult child 3 was upset but still subdued. I had been medicating him for a cold and had been blaming the cold for the deteriorating behaviour, then as I was checking his temperature at home, concerned at what the teacher had written in the book, I noticed the faint beginning of a fine rash. If I hadn't been looking I might have missed it.

    His behaviour was improved the next day because I dosed him with antihistamines for the rash; then his behaviour worsened again. The teacher commented that difficult child 3 seemed to be ignoring him although he could hear OK, he responded to the school bell in the distance. So I chose to keep him home, concerned at the teacher's comments and concerned at difficult child 3's serious inability to stay on task (compared to normal). He did his schoolwork at home but I noticed he had a lot more difficulty at home, staying on task - he would normally work well at home. I was really concerned by the combination of my own observations and the things the teacher had reported in the Book and finally worked out - the antihistamines for the allergy were shortcircuiting his stims. If I hadn't realised this, or hadn't had the chance to see the teacher's notes, I would have sent him to school with disastrous consequences for difficult child 3, the teacher and who knows?

    In the Book you also have to allow the teacher to vent without fear of you getting angry with them. If the teacher has had a really bad day with him, she needs to be able to say, "He was HORRIBLE today, I could have cheerfully wrung his neck and laughed through the entire process."
    You could write back something like, "I'm sorry he was so difficult for you today. I hope today is much better." You could even say, "I talked to him about HIS day, he said he was feeling uncomfortable all day because the label in his shirt was itching him - sometimes it's such a tiny thing that can make all the difference. I am now unpicking the labels from all his shirts."

    The big advantage of the Communication Book is its immediacy. Also, neither you nor the teacher need to write an epic - a single line can say all you need, on some days. And it also replaces the need for classroom step consultations. And think about it - if the teacher has had a trying day but held it together, the last thing she will want is to prolong her working day one minute longer. Having written in the book she can head home for that stiff drink.
    I've also used the book to set up a classroom steps consult - "Can I have a quick word to you when I collect difficult child this afternoon? I have a few concerns I didn't want to put in writing, in case difficult child read it."

    The aim of the exercise is for you and the teacher to work as a team on your child. And as with teamwork, you often don't agree and have to find consensus, rather than accord. If the teacher insists things be done her way, t hen let her. She IS the boss during the day. But when her method is clearly failing, you can gently suggest, "can we now try it my way for, say, a week and see if there is any improvement?"

    I do think you have made a good start so far. The school is not always going to get it right. As parents we know WE also make mistakes. But as long as we all LEARN from these mistakes and move forward in an atmosphere of cooperation and positivity, the child's welfare is in good hands.

    It can be a nerve-wracking time for your first child, even for a easy child.

    The meeting date has been set. I would also use the intervening time to do some homework on the regulations and make a Wish List on what you would like to see achieved for difficult child. Never forget that you are a vital part of his Learning Team.

    Using these methods, I managed to stay on cooperative terms with a school that made a lot of mistakes and which routinely alienated parents, excluded therapists and refused to cooperate. I got the absolute best results that anyone could have got, by constantly making it clear we were working together and I expected cooperation (and would give it in return).

    (I also kept the teacher supplied with adult humour within their taste requirements, on the grounds that they NEEDED humour as therapy, in exchange for the stress of teaching my child). I love my kids but I'm a realist.

    Marg
     
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