Need some advice for dealing with teachers ...

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by still_struggling, Apr 15, 2009.

  1. difficult child currently has an IEP in place, and is in a mainstream classroom. He wants to be the class clown, and is often disruptive. Because we haven't had the opportunity (yet) to have him properly evaluated, we're having trouble figuring out what to do with him as far as punishments/reward systems go. Nothing really seems to work with him. He's in the 5th grade, and was diagnosed with ADHD and "possibly" ODD - although they won't officially diagnose him until he's been evaluated (which is in the works).

    Anyway, I got a note in difficult child's planner from his teacher. It reads:

    "difficult child is being very silly and trying to make everyone laugh. He stuck erasers in his mouth and has been off task for the majority of the day. Can you suggest a consequence that can be used? Current consequences aren't having the same effect."

    So, I sent her the following email:

    "I saw your note in difficult child's planner ... this is part of the reason why I wanted to have a conference with you guys. We're at a loss at home with him - difficult child has been trying everything he can to get attention - including being disruptive. (He does this at home too). The consequences that we use at home; time outs, grounding, losing things - aren't working here either. I am frustrated because I feel like difficult child is being pushed ahead into 6th grade, although his work and behavior is not of a 6th grade student. I know that the whole "no student left behind" thing really is coming into play here, but I think that it's time to have difficult child re-evaluated to determine if he should be a mainstream student. It is blantantly obvious to me that he is not a student that should be pushed ahead, as he has consistantly had marks on his report cards that he is below state standards for reading and writing. His work is poor, his homework is neglected, and his behavior is really really holding him back - he is suffering now and I can only imagine how much harder it's going to be if he goes into the 6th grade. Anyway, please let me know when we can have a conference next week. difficult child's representative from the Harbor will be there also and it'll be a good opportunity for us to all get on the same page."


    difficult child's teacher basically blows off my questions in email, but when I request a conference, we can somewhat get things on the table. This is the first time that I'm really pushing to have him re-evaluated by the school to determine if he should be placed back into ESE classes and not be mainstreamed. He went from being an A&B student (1st grade) to getting consistent C's on every report card and I get letters from the school board every summer that difficult child is below state standards in at least two areas (mostly reading and writing, but sometimes math has shown up as a problem for him). The school has not done any official testing on him since he went into kindergarten. He was mainstreamed in the 2nd grade and that's when we started having problems with school performance.

    Don't get me wrong, I don't want to put him into the ESE classes just so that his grades will improve. I want to have him back in the classes because it's a smaller classroom, they cater to his issues, and he focuses on the work much better. I would much rather him be in the ESE classes and be at the state's minimum levels, than push him ahead in mainstream classes and see him get so frustrated that he drops out when he's older.

    Anyway, back to the teacher ... I've been requesting a conference with her for about a month now. I'm wondering if I should call the school's principal to get her involved because this is obviously a big issue for me and I don't feel like the teacher wants to address it. School is almost over and I think they don't want to deal with him anymore since he's "technically" graduating from elementary to middle school next year - they want him to be someone else's problem. :(

    How do I explain to her that consequences don't work with him? Just about all we can do at home to avoid an explosion is send him to his room to calm down. I'm currently reading the Explosive Child, but I'm only about 1/3 of the way through it. So really, I don't even know what's going to work for us at home - let alone what will work for him at school. I feel like she's not taking the time to get involved and figure out solutions on her own - she's always asking me what to do, and I rarely have the answers. :whiteflag: I need some good advice - and if I'm in the wrong, please call me on it, I can handle it!
  2. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    Do you have set times throughout the day that all your attention is just for him? I see you have a one year old also? He must keep you very busy and even though you know you are giving your difficult child individual attention, he may only be seeing the time you spend caring for the toddler. Kids mistake the extra direct care babies and toddlers need as us loving the baby/toddler more and not wanting to spend time with them.

    I would suggest having a few set times throughout the day that difficult child gets your attention. Times that he knows is for him. Kids that age like jokes. Get a joke book and ask him to read them to you. Do you both ride bikes? Is it possible to go on a bike ride while someone else watches the one year old?

    Maybe if he is spending his time thinking about his time with you and what you both will be doing, he will ease up on the attention getting antics at school? (maybe not, but worth a try?)

    I almost hate this time of the year. It seems so late to accomplish anything if there is a school issue. Feels like the schools just drop the ball on everyone - we will wait until next Fall - maybe the child will improve on his/her own over the summer. Yeah right - you just lost more time to help.

    Most of our kids have a hard time connecting consequences with actions. I know I have a hard time figuring out how to use consequences. Sometimes discipline is faster for us than to actually work with the child. Having patience is the best key. Trying to explain things without sounding judgemental goes a long way but that also takes time and energy and adults would rather just shut the child down with a punishment.

    I hope you find something that will help. I think the teacher just needs to follow him around and continually take these things away from him. She doesn't need to be mean about it, just a, "difficult child, That is not what you do with those, please give those to me." He doesn't understand the total concept of how he is acting - he is trying to fit in - but maybe he can soon get the hint that certain behaviors will bring an instant visit from the teacher.
  3. Kjs

    Kjs Guest

    I had the same exact problem. I was told difficult child was the class clown and HE had the attention of the class and the teachers could not teach. After Many, many tirals of reward/punishment and horrible outcomes we found one that worked. I swear by it and wish I would of used it long, long ago.

    What we found was when he was class clown he was in control. When he was not in control he was anxious, frustrated and angry. And he was not shy to show this.

    He doesn't open up to many staff members. Trust issue from past years. (and I don't blame him. he went through heck with some staff members. Awful.) Finally had a Special Education program director that liked him. She got through to him.

    He has a "cool off pass". I swear by this. It has worked wonders. Unbelievable outcome. Teachers and difficult child both have this. When HE feels he is losing control, or becoming angry/frustrated he initiates the pass. If the teacher feels he is in need of a "time out" the teacher will call for an escort. he has several places to go. Three different staff members that he chose (ones he trusts). They are not all available at times so he has several. he goes there and they can talk it out. Or he may need "alone" time. Just sit alone. He is always supervised. And this is a 10-20 minute break to regroup and rejoin the class. He has tried to milk it inot an hour or more. They got wise to that and put an end to it.

    We have tried so many rewards/consequences that didn't work and had horrible effects/outcomes. Due to his reputation in previous years (almost always) he was blamed, punished before he ever did anything. That is just not allowed. In his mind then he said he may as well misbehave since he is being punished anyway. My point in the IEP meeting was when he DOES try to behave and be good he gets punished anyway. I would watch for mood/behaviors when trying new rewards/consequences.

    This has worked so well for us. Just wanted to share our experience. I hope you find something that works for you. Good luck.
  4. maril

    maril New Member

    I hope you will be able to finish reading The Explosive Child. It provided me with insight into my difficult child's world, even though he is almost grown and I just finished reading the book not too long ago!:slap:

    I truly understand how you feel as far as being concerned that your son is not ready to move on -- especially since he will be transitioning to middle school. My son's transition from middle to high school was such a difficult one and all seemed to go downhill (academically, etc.) from that point on.

    It is good that your son will be evaluated further. I agree with pushing for a conference and working towards trying to help him manage better at school and home. Don't give up hope. Keep on forging ahead and, hopefully, you will find some answers and support as time goes on.

    What's up for summer? Does he have plans or activities he will be involved in? Someone had made a point about this time of the year being difficult, and I agree. Spring fever kicks in! :jumphappy:
  5. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    I think your email is very good.

    The only small tweaks I would make...

    Instead of just saying next week...I probably would say...
    Can you meet next week? Tues, April xx and Wed xx are ideal for me, however, I can meet any day next week if those days are not available to you. The reason why is that by putting certain days in forces her to look at her calendar.

    In addition, I would leave her a message at the school about meeting with her next week. Why? To remind her (subtly) that you are very interested in a meeting.

    I have found that teachers are simply human beings. If they sense that you sympathize with them a bit, and want to help them, it helps. Ask if you can volunteer in the classroom for special events. Ask if there are any materials they need for special events and buy them. Ask now if she is having an end of the year party and might need help. Just an hour of your time, might mean a lot to this person.

    However, you are your child's mother/father. So, you must expect them to provide good quality care for your child...even though your child has special needs.

    Quietly, find out who are the movers and shakers at your school. Call on them if necessary. If she blows off emails and phone calls, I would probably call the assistant principal first to complain. However, give the AP several choices choices for when you are available for a conference...indicating that you are flexible if those don't work out.
    I would wait to see if these types of things work before calling the principal.

    I agree with the other poster...start thinking now about summer. Is your child going to summer school? Are there any private schools he could go to part time? This type of arrangement always worked out well for our difficult child. If staying home, what about a tutor? A patient high school student once or twice a week. Can you ask the teacher for materials for summer review? Could your child go to some sort of camp for a couple of days a week and have the tutor two days a week? Believe me..."creativity" was my middle name when my child was younger.
  6. difficult child is going to summer camp for 3 weeks. He's been telling everyone that he wants to go into the army when he's bigger, so I found a summer camp that was military style (teaches them survival skills in the woods and such) that he'd love. So, summer is pretty much covered.

    I can't volunteer at school because of the baby - I just don't have anyone here that can babysit while I volunteer, so the baby is pretty much with me all day. :( I wish I could volunteer though.

    husband has already said that if he isn't happy with the outcome of the conference, that he intends to ask for a conference with the principal. The entire staff at school KNOWS difficult child, so much so that I don't even have to show i.d. when I go there to pick him up or have a conference ... they just know me. :anxious: I'm on a first name basis with the principal, and have been since the school opened 3 years ago. The teacher that difficult child has this year is new to teaching. I feel like she's a little hard on difficult child at times, based on some of the notes she sends home. I also feel like she's quick to pass difficult child onto someone else when he gets tough. difficult child doesn't respect her as an authority figure because of this, so when he wants to get out of class, he acts up. She's sort of shot herself in the foot because of that, but I don't know how to tell her that without sounding snarky.

    Anyway, I haven't heard from her yet about the conference date, but I will get in touch with her again today. Will keep you all posted.
  7. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    If he has an IEP, then I would convene a meeting. It sounds like a team approach might be the best way to address this.

    If you want the school to reevaluate him, you'll probably need to send a certified letter requesting that. That starts a time table.
  8. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    Personally, I would ask for an IEP meeting (via email followed up with a letter sent via classified mail). The principal would be part of that mtg.

    Waiting for the evaluation isn't helping what is going on now. A team of education professionals should be called together to discuss difficult children issues & come up with possible responses to his silliness. Once the evaluation is completed & you have the report in your hot little hands a second IEP mtg can be called. It's a no brainer.

    I expect your difficult child is acting out in this matter because he feels in over his head. That needs to be addressed as well if that is the case.

  9. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    Perhaps start with a conference to get the ball rolling. I think if you don't hear from her by the end of the day, then tomorrow, it would be fine to leave a message at the office. You could even send an email "I really need to set up a conference. I've also left a message at the main office. Please call me as soon as possible at (xxx) xxx-22222. That SHOULD get her attention. At the conference, you could talk about some immediate steps to help your child. If possible, your husband should attend.

    Tell her at the conference that you would like an IEP. Ask her for the name of the person at the school who makes these arrangements. If she doesn't give it to you or sayas she does this, don't worry about it. The next day, call the office and ask the same question. You can always talk with the AP.

    Then, call the office to find out what needs to be done to make sure that happens. Make sure your "ducks are in a row." Do you have all the evaluations you need? What else might you need? I have found that with schools it takes being polite, but firm and consistent to get things done. With a few schools, I've had to do all that, and then call the day before the IEP to give them a reminder. (Sigh). Make sure your husband attends the IEP.

    I found I had the best working relationship with- teachers who knew that I understood their difficulties with my difficult child, but at the same time, also understood that I expected them to be professionals and to work their hardest at helping her and our family.

    If you can't volunteer...see if you can donate some supplies or baked goods. I've worked at schools and it is usually appreciated. Just asking sometimes means a lot. It shows that you are aware that they have difficult days on the job. by the way, you can get really nice pencils on line that are not too expensive at Oriental Trading Co. A REALLY fun gift might be pencils with your teachers room number on it or "Fourth Grade." Something simple, practical, but shows that you were thinking about her and her kids.
    Lasted edited by : Apr 16, 2009
  10. Conference is scheduled for Wednesday (the 22nd). We're going to discuss his IEP and possibly update it, but they said that they can't re-evaluate him because his original evaluation still applies?? Meaning, that the original evaluation showed the behavioral problems, and since he still has behavioral problems that there's no sense in re-evaluating. I don't get it ... wouldn't the behaviors have changed based on medication changes, different schools, different teachers, etc., etc.? There's so many different variables in place now that he didn't have to deal with way back when he was originally evaluated. I think I'm going to bring it up again in the conference because I'm not happy with their answer. And if I have to press the issue with the middle school, then I'll do that too. :mad:

    Anyway, I just wanted to pop in and give you guys an update. I'm off to read a couple more chapters in the book before I have to and pick him up from school.
  11. lizanne2

    lizanne2 New Member

    I am glad to see you have a meeting scheduled.

    I wanted to say the the 'cool out pass' idea worked well for my difficult child for a while. Behavior mod or consequnece or reward or those things very rarely worked for my son. He was given the opportunity to take a break. He at times couldn't even ask for it so he was allowed to take pass to the office and visit the principal. there he had a bag of art supplies that he would simply sit and use. One Special Education teacher said that engaging the motor skils while drawing is very calming for him.

    The teachers were afraid he would abuse this privilege. He never did! And it worked quite well for a long time.

    I hope the meeting is a productive one.
  12. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    I just wanted to say good luck with the meeting too!

    (The "cool off" pass works for some, but it would have worked better for difficult child 1 if the school hadn't been trying to blame her for everything that went wrong. Something missing? difficult child 1 stole it while out in the hall. Never mind that she was supervised. At the expulsion hearing (they did not expel her, just indefinitely suspended - HUH?), she was alleged to have had drugs, paraphernalia, violent behavior, too many absences... Etc. The only thing they could prove was the behavior (she kicked the principal's desk when he told her to shut up... I would have kicked HIM) - nothing else was documented... Past history of behavior made a mess out of 8th grade for difficult child 1.)