easy child school issue - conflict resolution

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by keista, Oct 11, 2011.

  1. keista

    keista New Member

    DD1 had a "punishment" homework assignment tonight. In the mornings her class works in literature circles. Unfortunately her group has four kids who want to talk about anything but literature, her and another boy she calls 'clueless'. Well, the four took over today, again, and the group got 'punished' as a group and had to write about ways they could make their literature circle better. They had to fill a sheet front and back.

    DD1 got about 65% done and ran out of ideas and came asking me for help. I read her ideas (some she repeated) and they were all your basic ideas of how to get a group back on track. She also told me that she did try implementing these ideas, but failed. After all it's 4 against 1. So I started suggesting things like asking the teacher to intervene or having her group changed. She calmly and rationally explained how those were not valid ideas on how to 'fix' the group. So as my blood started to boil on this issue, I told her that if she can't think of anything else, she's done. Of course, she is in easy child mode and MUST follow the rule of filling the page front and back. So before she could get herself into difficult child mode over this, I managed to calm her down and told her that I would be talking to the teacher about this ........ nonsense.

    I expressed to her how proud I was that she did her best to resolve the problems, and it's really not fair for the teacher to expect any child to do so when stuck in such a group. I also commended her for keeping calm and not going difficult child about this. by the way about two weeks ago she had a problem with this same group. They were talking and planning the day's jobs while the teacher was still teaching so DD1 was left out of those decisions. She *almost* lost it but asked to go to the bathroom. Unfortunately she ended up breaking the bathroom pass in her frustration and got a school consequence (no biggie, she missed PE which she doesn't like anyway ;) )

    Am I overreacting? Do you think that DD1 (any child for that matter) should be expected to get her group in line without adult assistance, and be punished along with the group when they cross the line? by the way it's 5th grade.
  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    This stuff makes my blood boil.

    Short answer: NO WAY.

    1) I think most group work is just an easy way out for the teachers (and then I have to duck when I say it because the teachers on the board will be throwing bricks...) but I'm serious. If kids were 2x4s it might work - if they all came from the same culture, had the same personality, were at the exact same level academically... MAYBE. Reality - the teacher can't even handle the dynamics, so how on earth can the kids?

    2) I have never, ever, supported a teacher who punishes a group as a group unless it can be absolutely proven that the entire group was breaking school rules (catch 6 kids dong grafitti on the school wall... sure, nail all 6). Most of the time, the situation is way to complex for a teacher to figure out, so they take the easy route. The "official line" is that kids need to "learn to work with others". Well... in my opinion this junk just proves to our kids that working with others doesn't work, can't work, and is to be avoided at all costs. Not the intended lesson, of course.


    This is not just "not fair".
    This is just plain WRONG.
  3. buddy

    buddy New Member

    um, no. I think especially when there is a difficult child in the group the teacher should be there giving them a little clue to move along into the assignment, not just ignore them until it is too late. Was he sitting at his desk grading papers or what?

    good for her controlling all of that . huge group difficult child hug to her. (unless she doesn't like touch, smile)
  4. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I always hated working in groups for just such reasons and I remember it all these many years later. Let me work alone.
  5. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    This is why I think "groups" ought to be banned, at least if it's for a grade.

    I had the same issues in school. Somehow I always got stuck with the "bad" group, you know, the ones who never wanted to do any work. (even during my recent college days, so they grow up and do the same things!!)

    easy child always wound up doing everyone else's work because she couldn't accept anything less than an A. After years of this I finally had her consult the teacher that if the others in the group chose not to do the work and easy child only did her part could she be graded separately. She did have one or two teachers that would do that. (I did too in nursing, thank heavens)

    I know the point is to teach you to work within a group. I get that. But it's not fair to hold each student accountable for the actions of the group. They're kids, it's not fair to place that type of responsibility on their shoulders.

    Nichole just flat out refused to do someone else's work. lol

    And Travis had issues with the groups letting him do anything at all. *sigh*
  6. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    You are exactly right that there is NO WAY a 5th grader can get her peers to behave and do anything if they are determined to play and not do the group assignment.

    I rarely found group work to be useful in ANY way. I had maybe 3 group projects in high school that were not horrible and two in college. Yes, you do have to sometimes work in groups as part of a job, but rarely is the dynamic anything near what it is in school. If college kids can't handle group work, how on earth is a 5th grader?

    WHY is it your daughter's job to make the other kids behave and do their work? Did she suddenly get a college degree and become an adult? I would ask the teacher exactly that question. Not so much as a confrontation, but as an honest question that you want answers to. Show the teacher the things daughter came up with, and ask why it was left up to a child to make the other kids participate and behave well.

    I would also call the psychiatrist and/or therapist and get one of them to give you a letter saying that this type of group work is harmful to daughter's emotional well being and she is to be graded on her work and not on either the work of other people in a group, and that it is unreasonable and harmful to her to even suggest that she is responsible for the other children's behavior esp in group.

    Given daughter's perfectionism, anxiety problems and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), she is not going to be able to cope with group work, esp if she is responsible for making the other children behave in any certain way. If daughter is urging the kids to do things that are not appropriate then she needs to be held accountable, but that doesn't sound like her. As long as she is behaving relatively appropriately, then how the other kids behave shouldn't be her problem.

    Expecting daughter to keep the other kids in line is not only inappropriate, it will set her up to be harrassed in multiple ways by her peers. This is not good for her emotional well being and could send her into an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)/perfectionist breakdown. Hopefully the therapist or psychiatrist will give you a letter stating how groupwork, esp with the teacher putting the responsibility for the other children's behavior onto daughter, is harmful to daughter's well being and that daughter needs to either be graded on her work and behavior in the group or be given a separate assignment modified to be done by one person rather than a group.

    At the next IEP meeting you need to have this put into her IEP also.

    It should probably be pointed out to the teacher that if daughter really pushes the other kids to behave well then the other kids are either going to refuse to play with her at recess, tease her for being a "goody goody" and "brown-noser" or make her life a complete misery by picking on her in other ways. Not to mention that daughter is going to get fed up and either explode or just do all the work herself, which is a burden she should not be expected to shoulder and keeps the other kids from having to even try to do the work. WHen the other kids aren't doing the work, they will be goofing around and not behaving appropriately, which will bring the situation back to the original problem, over and over again.
  7. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I do use a lot of group work in my classroom (however, the grades are not tied to it-always hated that when I was in school). The teacher should be spending more time modeling with the group or develop a new group if needed. It isn't fair to expect your daughter to pull the group along or to expect her to have to write a punishment because of her group.

    Most of my kids do really well in group work (we use them in science and also for reading on a regular basis and there are times I use them in other areas as well). It really is valuable for students. I often have groups that can work independently and rarely stop talking about the book (but I'm in a book club myself and we don't stick to the book so I understand a bit of off track time).

    With the groups that need more guidance I'm there to help. If needs to be I change groups or at times if there is someone who just can't handle it and is bringing the group down then I find an alternative for them.
  8. keista

    keista New Member

    Thanks all for the confirmation that I'm not going loco.

    I just got off the phone with the teacher. they are stopping these literature circles immediately. :( You'd think I'd be happy, but DD1 actually loves the literature circles, just not the group she's stuck with. As a matter of fact, this directive came down from administration. Interesting. Although this will now stop, I did still express my distress to the teacher about this "assignment" and she agreed that it is NOT DD1's responsibility. The "assignment" actually was issued by a student teacher that has been teaching the class the last few weeks.

    Funny, teacher said that these circles are stopped until the few kids can "handle" it. I told her not to hold her breath, because there are kids in college that can't 'handle' this kind of work.

    I also have last year's teacher echoing in my ears. At the 504 meeting, when we were going over all of DD1's incidents over the year, she turned to me and said, "Well, if you really think about it, DD1 WAS justified in getting upset in each and every incident." Ya think?????????????? And although it's true, her reactions are WAY over the top. So at least 50% of DD1's school problems are simply because she's reacting to a 'hostile' environment. :sigh:
  9. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Keista -
    That's a no-brainer to "us", but the school will never believe you.
    All these other kids are doing so well, there's no way it could possibly be a "toxic environment".

    Oh ya??

    Alternative for teacher...
    One of the GOOD teachers (maybe I should say exceptional...) pulled this off slightly differently.
    She still had lit circles - from a discussion standpoint. They'd discuss ideas back and forth about what this meant or why so-and-so did that or what's coming next... and then EACH student did their own write-up.
    This gives the benefits of discussion - and even if only two out of the group are on-side, they can still discuss between them...
    But the write-up is individual, as is the mark.

    Even in the business world - discussion is collaborative, but document creation is NOT.
  10. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    I despised group work. I can work in a 2-person team, being one of the two of course, but more than that and I shut down.

    There's always at least one person who wants to slide and not do any work; one (your daughter, me) who is more concerned with getting it done and per specifications; and when you get more than one of the former together, all goes to Hades in a hurry.

    In college - junior year - I had a class that assigned groups and we had to DO something for someone. One of the girls found a 1st grade class, so we were to have a Valentine's Party for them. I did decorations, got pizzas, got punch - careful with the allergy thing, even then - 15 years ago - got donations... One of the guys took his camera, but I had to get the film developed. The 3rd girl wrote everything up. 3 girls, 3 guys. Myself and the write-up girl did 95% of the work. And I remember her well. I remember the party. The kids loved it, I hated it. I was exhausted.

    The entire group got an A. Write-up and I were LIVID.
  11. keista

    keista New Member

    Step, that's exactly why I hate group work. Fortunately in this case it wasn't specifically for grades, it was more of a teaching/learning method. DD1's friend in sixth grade said the lit circles have been nixed in her class as well, so maybe admin did nix it for the whole school. YAY

    Insane, back in my day it was called classroom discussion. Not sure why that's a problem these days.