Monday, November 2, 2009

What Do You Do With a Poor Teacher?

Since the beginning of the year my husband and I have had misgivings about my daughter's teacher. To begin with on the second day of school he had the students come home and beat on their chests while spelling the word "the". When we asked Makayla why she was doing this she could not explain the purpose of beating her chest and to top it off she was hitting herself so hard she was getting hurt. The next day he proceeded to ask the students which of the parents thought he was crazy. Makayla raised her hand because we thought that the act was rather strange and we could not figure out the point. When she told us he asked the class that, we were quite upset and thought this an odd line of questioning for 6 year-olds.

For this next bit I need to provide some additional information. For her class, the teacher uses green, yellow, and red cards to indicate how the students are behaving. If they have one small infraction, like talking too much they have to change their card to yellow and if they continue then they change their card to red. When we saw this, we thought it was probably quite useful for disciplining students. However, when Makayla came home and told us that if the students had to go to the bathroom during class time they were instructed to turn their cards straight to red, regardless of if they were on green or yellow. Along with a red card you also get 5 minutes on the wall during recess. We did not like the idea of students being punished for using the restroom. I can understand that there may be students that abuse bathroom privileges, but you cannot determine that on the first day of school.

The final straw for me was when we went to reading night at the school. This is an event that you sign up for so that the teachers are aware of which parents are coming. The idea is to allow students and parents to work together in the classroom a few nights a year. I love the idea and we signed up. When we got to Makayla's classroom her teacher proceeded to tell us that he did not know what level Makayla was reading at. Please note that Makayla goes with a Para professional for reading because she is a bit higher than other students in her class, so her teacher is not directly working with her daily on reading. However, if I were the teacher, I would have contacted her reading teacher knowing that we would be there to find out where she was at. Because he did not know her level, I found the contact information for the Para professional she reads with and contact her to find out her level, so that we can get appropriate reading material. She happily provided the necessary information.

The following Monday finished off my patients. Makayla did not go to reading group because her cue all year to go to reading group was when kids showed up at the door to get her. On this particular day no one came to get her and she assumed that she did not have reading. After afternoon recess, her teacher pulled her out of line (physically by the arm) and asked why she missed reading group. When Makayla said she thought she didn't have it because no one showed up he told her it was just like missing the whole day of school because she didn't go to reading group. When Makayla got home she told her dad she "had done something AWFUL!", and told him the whole story. The next day I went into the school and spoke with her teacher and he just couldn't understand why I was so upset because she wasn't in trouble. I know she wasn't in trouble, but she thought she was and that was why I was so upset. It was his responsibility to make sure that she got to reading group. She is just learning time and does not know how to read a clock yet.

In addition to the incidents above there is no art or student work in the classroom or displayed on the hallway bulletins. This was terribly upsetting to Makayla on reading night, as she had nothing to show us and many of her friends were showing off their work. It was so upsetting to her that she commented she didn't want to go to school the next morning because of it. Please note that my husband and I didn't make a big deal out of it, so as to encourage her behavior of not wanting to go to school and being upset.

With all of this, my husband and I decided to go to the principal and advocate for Makayla being moved from the classroom. It appears to us that his teaching style and classroom structure will not work with the things Makayla needs. We have had the initial meeting and go this Friday to meet with the principal and the teacher.

I am hopeful that we can move her into another class. I know some of you may think that I am being a bit over the top here, but I know that Makayla is not getting what she needs to be prepared for 2nd grade and I feel it is my responsibility as her parent to make sure that happens, even if I have to "stir things up" at school.

Hope you all are having a good week!


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