Facing the 3rd Grade Teacher Ms. M



My son was in the green reading group in second grade. There are a series of 5 groups with different colors, and his was the 4th out of 5. It reminds me of Jonathan Mooney's description of the names of his reading groups, names of different animals. I can't remember his but it was something like ostrich (a bird that couldn't fly). His point was that everyone knew who the "smart kids" were. Things haven't changed much. The green and red reading groups were the only ones who had summer homework. Now I'm not opposed to doing a bit extra for difficult child scholastically depite the fact that the homework wars will be the death of me. But they announced who the "stupid" kids were by doing that. difficult child cried about it one night saying that it wasn't fair and that he was stupid. Grrr. The homework they sent home was tough. Not only was it reading but it was different projects like making mini book reports and making game boards about the stories. This wouldn't be hard for a easy child or nt but it's hard for my boy. The attention span is just not there and to force it brings fallouts and meltdowns.

Well Ms. M was a 2nd grade teacher last year. D had her for math and he liked her a lot. When she called in the beginning of the summer about how homework was going and asked to return her call I didn't. I was still stewing about how the staff handled the homework situation so publicly. I just figured the 2nd grade staff was checking up BUT NO. This year she is teaching 3rd grade and she is difficult child's teacher. Now I am going in with tail between my legs. What I intend to tell her is that we did the best we could. We read all the stories in the book at our own pace, not the one they requested. And we did a few of those exercises/projects but not three each week. That with our challenges we needed a break as much as we needed (if not more) the extra work. I hope she's understanding.

I'm really nervous about this year. Expectations are higher than ever. My son still can barely remember to bring his coat home in a snow storm and they want them to be independent and remember everything on their own. I have things in a 504 but they aren't addressed. Maybe this year will be better in that regard. I can hope.

Thanks for listening.



New Member
You have some pluses. Your son knows this teacher and likes her. She cared enough to call to see how he was doing at the beginning of the summer. It sounds like you might just have a teacher that will work with you and he.

I've assisted a third grade teacher the past three years, mainly with the reading groups. Last year, there was one young man who was incredibly smart but couldn't read. He felt he was stupid because of teasing by his siblings and his peers. I ended up doing some research and tried to find the names of people he admired that had difficulties in school either because of dyslexia or ADHD or whatever. It did help him to see that even some truly brilliant people and personal heroes (Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, Magic Johnson, etc.) who couldn't read in school.

  • Agatha Christie, English mystery writer
  • Tom Cruise, actor
  • Whoopi Goldberg, actress
  • Magic Johnson, athlete
  • Walt Disney, founder of Disneyland, cartoonist
  • Charles Schwab, founder of investment brokerage
  • Thomas Edison, inventor
  • Winston Churchill, former prime minister of Britain
  • Leonardo Da Vinci, Renaissance artist
  • Harrison Ford, actor
  • Jay Leno, comedian
  • Robin Williams, actor and comedian
  • Albert Einstein, scientist
  • Nolan Ryan, athlete
  • Harry Belafonte, singer, entertainer
  • Cher, entertainer, actress
  • Danny Glover, actor
  • Gustave Flaubert, writer
  • William Hewlett, co-founder, Hewlett-Packard
  • Andy Warhol, artist
  • John Lennon, musician
  • Ted Turner, media mogul, philanthropist
  • George Burns, actor, comedian
  • Alexander Graham Bell, inventor
  • Bruce Jenner, Olympian athlete
  • George Patton, U.S. general
  • Tom Smothers, comedian
  • Henry Winkler, actor
  • Billy Bob Thornton, actor
  • Nelson Rockefeller, former governor of New York
  • Woodrow Wilson, former U.S. president
  • William Yeats, poet
  • Hans Christian Anderson, author
Additional Dyslexic Celebrities

  • Orlando Bloom, actor
  • Keanu Reeves, actor and musician
  • Jamie Oliver, chef
  • Lara Flynn Boyle, actress
  • George Herbert Walker Bush - 41st U.S. President
  • George Walker Bush - 43rd US President
  • Salma Hayek, actress
  • Keira Knightley, actress
  • Guy Ritchie, Film director and husband of Madonna
  • Vince McMahon, World Wrestling Entertainment Founder
  • Alyssa Milano, actress
  • Patrick Dempsey, actor
  • Richard Branson, English Entrepreneur, founder of Virgin brand


Well-Known Member
If you do not have difficulties communicating, I would suggest
that you write a brief note or send a thank you card to Ms. M.
I would share just a few thoughts with her. "thank you so much
for thinking of X this summer" "we are very thankful that you will be his 3rd grade teacher because he really needs a caring
professional helping him achieve his best" "although we did our
best with the summer assignments, we did not accomplish all that
was asked...we are proud, however, to have read x, y, z and (fill
in the blank)" "I am hopeful that this will be a better year for
X and that perhaps a few more interventions/supports ?? will be
available to supplement your educational efforts" Yours truly,
Mrs Q or lst name Q

You don't want to try to talk to Ms. M the first week of school
when she is trying to get her ducks in a row. Back to school night would probably be better for that. Since she made an effort over the summer, however, I think she needs to know that
you appreciate her. DDD


Well-Known Member
I think that you are handling it well. From past experience, I would recommend that you make an appointment to speak with Mrs. M. privately before class starts, if possible, or at her earliest convenience, otherwise. A teacher's time is really stretched tight at the beginning of the year, and if they aren't expecting you, they may not be able to talk. That makes everyone unhappy.

I don't think that you should approach this with your tail between your legs, though. You have every reason to go in with your head held high. So, you didn't call her back - so what? I think that you can make a perfectly reasonable statement that you were stressed and not understanding why she was calling instead of the 2nd grade teacher. Do tell her that in the future you look forward to her advice on how to make homework less upsetting for everyone.

The IEP is a good idea if you don't already have one. You should probably do what you can to get started on it ASAP, because they can take several months, at least, to put in motion.


Thanks so much everyone for the support and suggestions. I love the idea of a thank you note! Here we go into another year. Hugs, MicheleL


Active Member
Even though he's got a negative on the AS, there's a fantastic book out there that may help you help the teachers formulate a plan for your special guy. It's called Asperger Syndrome and Difficult Moments: Practical Solutions for Tantrums, Rage, and Meltdowns. It's by Brenda Smith Myles and Jack Southwick.

It's kind of technical, and you can pick and choose from what's pertinent to your situation, but it really helps breakdown the classroom activities and help identify problem areas. It might actually allow you to find spots where there truly are frustrations that he hasn't been able to pinpoint.

Just a thought - - does he have an IEP in place?

Hope it goes well, it's always a good start when the teacher is so interested and your difficult child likes her!



My first thought is, is it your son that told you that they were the only ones that had summer homework? I ask because something like that is what I would hear from my daughter and it was almost always only partially true. In our case, it would be that the other groups had other homework assignments that maybe weren't as involved or more fun, etc. But, in her mind she would be singled out as your son feels. We've never had summer homework, but I just know how my daughter's mind works.

I've been there done that with the homework battles and it's just not worth it. She spent so much time in meltdown mode that she wasn't learning a thing. We have it written in her IEP, "school work during school hours". IOW, no homework. School is her biggest trigger - causes her anxiety to go off the charts and stay there all school year - and she needs down time from it. Bedtime, mornings and the whole school day are extremely hard for her as that is when her anxiety is at it's highest and she needs time away from it.

It does sound like this teacher is interested and that's wonderful. I would not go in with my tail tucked between my legs. I like the letter DDD suggested. Look at the teacher as a partner in working with your son, not an adversary or a superior.

School starts here next week and I'm soooo dreading it. I feel your pain. Sigh...

Wiped Out

Well-Known Member
Staff member
I like the idea that DDD had. Personally I'm shocked that a teacher would give homework over the summer especially at such a young age! My husband taught 1st and the 2nd grade for many years-he has never known anyone to give hw over the summer. I have taught 4th & 5th grade (this year 5th) and never given homework over the summer!


Same here, Sharon. They will tell the kids to read over the summer, but there are no actual assignments. The only kids here that have summer homework are high school students taking AP classes, and even then it's not as much as Michele described.


Well-Known Member
Staff member
I really wouldn't get stressed about this at all. The teacher may not even remember that you didn't return the call and even if she does, she'll probably just think that you didn't get her message.

I really like DDD's letter. For the record, my easy child and difficult child never had summer reading assignments until they were in high school and even then, didn't do it until the last possible minute. Actually, I'm not sure they even did it. :grin:

Their teachers always gave them a couple of weeks after school started before the assignment on the summer reading was due.

I hope that your difficult child has a great school year!



Active Member
I agree with the previous suggestions, this one is a bonus.

On top of the IEP, the letter and other things, how about you try a communication book for him? Because it certainly seems like he has some issues which Mrs M needs to know about, but which will take you a month of Sundays (or at least, a term of every day classroom steps conferences) to even begin to communicate with her.

You get a plain exercise book. Print a 'cover' from your computer which says, "difficult child's Communications Book. Friends, teachers, family - please write in this book anything you feel needs to be shared with the others."

It's NOT for difficult child to read, it's for you and the teacher, primarily. You write in it anything you need to (such as "We had a terrible fight last night over homework - again. Can we talk about this problem? Is there some other way we could deal with this? He's not coping with it, we're not coping with it. But we want him to learn. How can we work together on this?"). The teacher then writes back what SHE feels needs to be communicated. ("He had a good morning in class, managed to complete a page of sums but then fell apart when we had to read aloud. Do you have any idea we could use to build his confidence with reading? Or is it just reading in front of the other kids that may be worrying him?")

This takes up a lot less time than a daily conference. Just think - after a day teaching your child, she is probably ready to get home and pour herself a stiff brandy. If she has already put her concerns in writing, then she has the extra knowledge that you will be thinking about her question or comments while she is already on her way home. Also, you don't get stuck standing there talking when you have a fractious child wanting to get home.

Done properly, this really works. But there need to be ground rules:

1) AT NO TIME should either school, or the home, put responsibility for the book onto the child. The teacher gets it out of his bag at school and puts it back in at the end of the day. You do not call to the child and say, "Put this in your bag," because not only is it too much responsibility, it is drawing too much attention to the book. difficult child's attention, as well as other kids.

2) Don't stop writing just because things are going well.

3) Don't just write the bad stuff when things aren't working - both the teacher, and the family, need some "just interesting" notes (such as, "difficult child was very kind to Melinda this afternoon, she was sad because her daddy is sick and difficult child put his arm around her.")

4) If ANYONE writes really negative stuff, forgive it. DO NOT use the book as a basis for court action. There needs to be a permanent moratorium. I can look back and see some absolutely atrocious things that difficult child 3's teachers wrote. Having had to parent him during bad times, I can totally sympathise with a teacher at the end of her tether. So if the teacher writes one day, "WHAT AN APPALLING CHILD!" then next day you can write, "I'm sorry you had such a bad day. I'm not sure why he was so difficult. I hope today is better."

I got on much better with difficult child 3's teachers BECAUSE of the book, than I would have without it. Especially in his last full year in mainstream, I had wondered how I would ever get on with that teacher. I suspect she has always disliked me intensely (she also taught easy child - badly, in my opinion) but using the book, we communicated much more effectively than I would have thought possible. Plus I could see she really did care about my lad - which surprised me. I had thought she despised just about all the kids she taught.



Wow! Marg what a GREAT idea. I will do it. Between that and the list of things he needs to remember each day when he leaves school (coat, homework assignments, etc) I think we may be on track. I also heard another great suggestion about putting something in an IEP about modified homework. For instance you agree to work on homework for say 45 minutes and whatever doesn't get done doesn't get done, no demerits.

I'm so grateful to each of you who responded, and even to those who haven't, just for being here. I love you guys!