difficult child's Teacher at the end of her rope

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by TerryJ2, Nov 11, 2008.

  1. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    This showed up in my email today:

    November 11, 2008
    Dear Parents,

    I am writing to ask for your help. Yesterday and today have been extremely difficult days for our class. I have had great difficulty teaching due to the students' excessive talking and interruptions. These are not isolated situations. If they were, I would speak to those few students individually. As a matter of fact, I can think of only two students that have not been participating in the "talk fest." I wish that I could present each of you a video so that you could understand my dilemma. Talking does not just occur between two people in a whisper. The students have a bad habit of calling out, blurting out, questioning me, and seeking to have their questions answered immediately at all times of the day. I may be in the middle of working with a student one-on-one, teaching to the entire class, or they may be taking a test or quiz. It doesn't matter. They ask whatever comes to their mind at exactly that moment. In addition, these questions are hurled at me in loud voices so that the entire class is disturbed. This has typically resulted in several students arguing over who has the best answer to the question that was asked of me.

    I am sure, if you were present you would be mortified by their show of disrespect towards me and their fellow classmates. I have repeatedly spoken to the class about these bad habits. Unfortunately today, many of them made bad choices during our hour-long math review session. This coupled with the lack of use of the individual review time I gave the students yesterday, many were still very unsure of their GCF and LCM methods for tomorrow's test. I postponed this test from last Friday to give them more time to study. I gave them ample opportunity to seek help from me both yesterday and today. In addition, we took a mock quiz and went over every problem in class. I will be very curious to see their math scores tomorrow. Their inattention and desire to verbally "one-up" their classmate will begin to take a toll on their grades.

    Tomorrow is the last of our ecosystem fieldtrips. I anticipate a crisp and beautiful day. It will be perfect for a walk through the N Trail. However, I will explain to the children before we leave that if their behavior begins to resemble the behavior of the last two days we will have to come back to campus without completing the day or the water testing. In addition, future fieldtrips, special activities and privileges will have to be reviewed. I do not take my comments to you throughout this email lightly. And I will repeat that these are not isolated incidents, but the overall behavior of everyone in the class. We need to work together to improve this situation. My job is to teach your children and provide for them the best learning environment possible. I want each of them to reach their potential and be pushed this year. This week I have not been able to do my job, and I find that unacceptable, as I am sure you do. We will be focusing on the 5 B's for the rest of the week and marking period: Be on task, on Time, Prepared and Respectful. Please have a serious discussion with your child regarding their current behavior and the imminent consequences that are sure to follow if improvements are not made.

    I believe in these children. I know they can do it. They are smart, enthusiastic and are good children. I am positive that we can help teach them valuable life lessons if we work together. Please do not hesitate to call or email me if you have any questions.

    Best regards,


    I responded with-sympathy and apologies, as I know one of difficult child's new habits is excessive talking. Last yr he hardly talked at all.
    I offered to pop into class unexpectedly and help out, which would embarrass difficult child, which would be a good thing. :) I'll wait and see what she says.
    Meanwhile, back to no TV on weeknights for difficult child. Sigh.
  2. ML

    ML Guest

    Our teachers are grossly underpaid!

    I was told by the student teacher that tutored manster through the summer that his class (4th grade this year) was the "most challenging" they've seen in a long time. The 3rd grade team was ready to give them to the 4th grade team for sure. I was given the best one for manster (she is part of the 504 team) and I have not been contacted yet since school started Aug 12th but I would not be surprised to receive a note like this.

  3. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    How many kids in the classroom?

    You have a good teacher there. She realizes that her teaching is not reaching the students. It is good that you are able to stop in to observe and help.

    Something that difficult child's teacher is doing (4th - 6th grade): At the beginning of every day, each child has five (5) fruit (very small plastic) on his or her table. Whenever there is a disciplinary issue, like talking out of turn, one piece of fruit is taken away. At the end of the day, each student gets one pretend dollar per fruit left on the table to accumulate and purchase something at the "class store" at the end of the month. If your teacher tries this, she may want to give points after each subject to start with to give a constant reminder of the importance of the fruit.

    For Sunday School, we had a similar issue during the opening. I set up a seating arrangement to separate those I knew where/would visit with each other. The kids hated that but I kept at it for about 3 - 4 weeks. I then told them we could go back to seating where ever they want but once there is a problem, we will go back to assigned seats again. However, this is one of the oldest tricks in the book and I am sure your teacher has either tried it or sees that it will not improve as all kids don't care who they are sitting next to, they will talk anyway?

    It is very frustrating to try teaching when that students are not listening. Sometimes giving an attention getting excersise will help. Have all kids stand at their desks, close their eyes, take a deep breath, exhale, open their eyes, and look to the teacher. If that works, the teacher will then have everyone's attention for hopefully long enough to get the next set of instructions out.

    I hope that you will find a way to help.
  4. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    ugh, I have yet to experience any of this cr@p... when K was in Kindergarten the Teacher just yelled at her and made her cry. And she had no IEP or 504.
    But at least now we have an aide in the class! She is for another student but it helps K a lot.
    We are lucky this year though, this teacher is not so worried about the talking.
    I hope he can learn some self control soon without getting into too much trouble.
    Yes our Teachers are underpaid!
  5. lizzie09

    lizzie09 lizzie

    I think too an unexpected, unannounced visit from you to the classroom is the best idea. I would arrive withour any prior warning to anyone if possible.
    You can see the teacher in her role even though you dont doubt her ability and of course your own child will be amazed to see you so enexpectedly.
  6. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    You're right, it is one of the oldest tricks in the book. My daughter is in a class that had 6 seating chart changes in the first 8 weeks of class due to talking and other issues. This is a veteran teacher whom I've never heard of having control problems before but the makeup of our school poplulation has changed a great deal over the past few years.

    Terry, I really applaud your son's teacher for approaching the parents as a whole like this and you for taking action. My daugther is a top student in her class who loves learning and she's incredibly frustrated and learning less this year than any previous year. As a parent I'm finding that my attitudes towards a lot of things I've been supportive of in the past are adjusting as I've seeing first hand the impact that altogether changes are having on her situation. Since my oldest started at the school ten years ago we've seen a doubling of the at risk and special education populations, the addition of NCLB, and finally this school year they went to full inclusion into regular classrooms for all special needs kids except for the very severe and it's been very disruptive to the classroom setting and putting even more workload on the teachers. We were the magnet school for the standalone special needs classrooms in the district so they all were dispersed into regular classrooms for as much of the day as they can handle and supposedly they were to have enough help. You can imagine how torn I feel knowing the advantages to having an appropriate amount of regular classroom time vs. it coming as a cost to my daughter's education! It's disheartening to see a student who loves school and wants to learn being held back from doing so and I'm just sick about it. I'm a huge supporter of public school but for the first time ever I've considered pulling her out, as are other parents who make up the heart of the volunteer force at the school.

    Anyway, from a parent of one of the kids not in the talkfest, I thank you, as I know you'll jump right in there, but there will likely be a lot of parents who won't. When these problems aren't dealt with effectively, the ramifications on education can be profound.
  7. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member


    I commend the teacher for addressing the parents with her concerns. If the class is disruptive and difficult to teach, it will tell in their test scores and ultimately, their grades. The teacher is also advising the parents that this upcoming math test may be a tough one for the class. Hopefully the parents will respond by speaking with their children.

    I'm sure that the teacher has tried to rearrange the seating - that would be a teacher's first move. I wonder if she has asked the principal to come and speak to the class. It would show the kids that she means business. I know, in my son's old elementary school, a visit to the classroom by the principal would have gotten results!

  8. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    SRL, you're so right on....its a fine line between including our kids at a cost to the others....I don't know the answer.

    I know a lot of parents, like you and Terry, will jump in. A lot of others won't. Some choose not to, others are slaves to finances and insurance provided by jobs that won't allow them to be parents...

    So many brokens, and I don't know the answers.

    But, Terry, I applaud your teacher - I think its a clever way to handle the whole class - and you for jumping in to try and help!
  9. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I too agree with SRL. I know the benefits of difficult child being in the regular ed classes but at what cost to others? I love the difficult children in my classroom but worry about the effect on the other kiddos.

    I'm sorry the teacher is so overwhelmed. Hopefully enough parents will speak with their kids and can offer some help.

    One thing that works really well in my room (it's not perfect), is the color card system. The kids start each day with green. If they are starting to chat or start to get disrespectful (I'm lucky I don't get much disrespect-mainly from difficult children) they change to yellow-it's just a warning to slow them down.

    After that it's an orange where they lose their recess doing a "fix-it" plan. If they proceed to red it is a note home to parents and they lose their Fab Friday (an extra recess on Fridays).

    It is very successful, overall. I can't remember though if your difficult child is elementary or middle-it might not work so well at the middle school level. Just thought I'd share, not sure if you'll want to share with the teacher or not.
  10. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Thank you all.
    I believe that difficult child's class uses color cards. I know they did last yr.
    This is 5th grade. They have 17 students.
    The seats have been rearranged nearly every wk since school started in late Aug.

    I stopped by today with-difficult child's lunch. They were planning a field trip and he forgot his lunch on the last field trip so I rushed it over there. The classroom was so quite it was actually kind of creepy! Reminded me of my old days in Catholic school, LOL!
    After school, I saw the teacher in the hallway and I asked her if it was better today. She said, "Much!"
    I had difficult child write her a note of apology. He didn't even balk. Must have been pretty bad for him not even to try to get out of it.