Aligning Next Year's Teacher

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by BestICan, May 14, 2008.

  1. BestICan

    BestICan This community rocks.

    difficult child was accepted to the gifted magnet in another school. It's very hard to get into, and if we turn it down, we'll never have this chance again.

    He could stay at his current school. He's currently a 2nd grader in a 2/3 split. Because of logistics, he'll have to do a straight 3rd grade curriculum next year. Repeating this curriculum would be a disaster for him. Boredom and difficult child don't mix well in the classroom. (His teacher says he's way ahead of the 3rd grade curriculum at this point.)

    Seems like a no-brainer, right?


    Rumors about the gifted teacher abound. I called the office today to get a feel for her style and was told in no uncertain terms by the staff there. She's very strict. She expects her students to toe the line. She tends to call parents on her cell from the classroom when a child is misbehaving. We discussed difficult child a bit (he's impulsive, he shouts out, he often says inappropriate things, he's fidgety, etc.), and her advice was, if you THINK he has ADHD, get a diagnosis and a 504 in place. Because the teacher will HAVE to make accommodations for him then. Reading between the lines: She's not gonna work with him. And she'll be his teacher for two years!

    Rock. Hard place. My kid is incapable of toeing a line like that. Can't do it. But it also seems extremely unfair to put him through 4 more years at his current school, which doesn't fit his educational needs.

    I have to make this decision without a diagnosis (still fighting the insurance company for neuropsychologist testing, making a little headway every few days) and without meeting the magnet teacher.

    Does anyone have advice?
  2. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    DEFINITELY get the 504 plan at a minimum. You don't have to have neuropsychologist testing to get a diagnosis. A psychiatrist, psychologist or pediatrician can do that for you -- surely your insurance will cover one of those providers?

    I would write a letter to his new teacher and "introduce" him to her. Make it personal. Explain his challenges, as well as his talents. Let her know you're an involved parent and that you look forward to working with her. Ask if you could meet with her briefly before the school year starts. Bring difficult child with you. Bring brownies or homemade cookies! Kill her with kindness and let her know that you are going to be there to support your son every step of the way.

    I've written "The Letter" every year in elementary school for my difficult children and handed it to their teacher on the first day of school as I introduced difficult child and myself to them. It's a memorable act and it does a lot to let them know "this kid is special" and this parent pays attention and I think it can be helpful in getting things off on the right foot.

    I would go ahead with the new placement. Worst case, if he's miserable after the first quarter or so, you can always move him back to his old school.


    P.S. We're moving difficult child 2 this next year, too. The past two years in GATE he was clustered in his home school with high acheivers and the handful of GATE students there. But continuing social problems and boredom have helped us decide to move him to the GATE magnet school for next year (his last year of elementary school). I'm hoping he "fits in" better with kids who think the way he does.
  3. Christy

    Christy New Member

    Definitely get a 504 plan in place before switching schools. Also, try to email or meet with the teacher directly. Maybe, if the material is challenging enough, difficult child will be motivated and have an easier time focusing.

    As for the calling out, some kids just can't help it. Maybe she can find a way to keep it to a minimum. One teacher I worked with would give a student with this issue three chips at the beginning of the lesson. Each time he spoke out of turn, he used a chip and placed it on a chart on his desk. After he used all his chips, he was no longer allowed to call out but could raise his hand to speak when appropriate. It served as a great visual reminder to keep impulsive kids from calling out. She took it one step further and would collect the leftover chips at the end of the lesson. After he had a certain number of unused chips, he got a reward such as extra computer time or lunch with the teacher and two of his friends.

    Another teacher at our school who had a reputation of being no nonsencse (actually most of us thought of here as mean) was remarkablely successful with difficult children. I'm not sure why but most kids responded well to her??? Go figure.

    I know it's a tough decision but if this program is best for your child then I say go for it and work with the teacher to develop a plan. Having the 504 in place before will definitely work in your favor.

  4. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    Great suggestion (chips!) Christy!
  5. BestICan

    BestICan This community rocks.

    gcvmom, thanks for the support and your great idea. I see we're going through a similar situation. I love your idea of "the letter." For the past couple of years, I've scheduled a meeting in the first week of school with difficult child's teachers to "talk about his seizures." This is, in fact, a ruse because he hasn't had a seizure in school in 3 years. But they seem very respectful about that, and, once I finish the basic seizure talk, I launch right into talking about his challenging behaviors. But I LOVE the idea of putting it in writing, too. I'm sure therapist would help me write the letter, and then we could refer back to it when the first (inevitable!) parent meeting takes place. Also, bless him, therapist is GREAT in teacher meetings, so I can always use him for help as needed.

    Christy, I know what you mean about the strict teachers having success with difficult kids. It may be that their expectations are very clear, and that's helpful. Like many of us, I have "PTSD" about the school number on the caller ID, and I honestly don't know how I'll handle a teacher who, in the words of the office staff, "may give you more parent-teacher communication than you want!" Time to grow some thick skin...sigh...

    I like the chip idea, except: difficult child would put the chips in his mouth, or draw faces on them, or rattle them during tests, or manipulate the system so that he's "allowed" to interrupt at the worst time imaginable.

    Oh, his poor teachers!
  6. lovejud

    lovejud MovingOn

    "the letter"--that's a great idea. I'm going to do it as well. Due to the "challenges--ha!ha!" at our last school we are starting a new school for first grade. I have tried to start things openly but have done everything verbally. A letter would be written and therefore be easy to refer back to by all involved.