View Full Version : I'm so disappointed in my daughters' teachers :(

03-05-13, 11:24 PM
Hi all, this is my first post here. I wanted not to have to be here; I'm sure you all know what I mean! I don't know exactly what I am looking for; I need to vent to people who understand, I suppose, and I wouldn't mind suggestions, either.

Short history: my 5th grade daughter was diagnosed with ADHD, mostly inattentive, when she was 5. She is our second (her older and younger sisters do not have it) and both of us parents have ADHD, so we knew something was up from birth, but I was hoping she'd "grow out of it". I wised up before she started kindergarten. She may have some other issues (anxiety) but we've never sought another diagnosis. She currently takes dexedrine ER generic.

We've never sought an IEP for school. She has always had homework issues (surprise, surprise), but she is very bright and always did well on tests, so her grades averaged out ok. She attends a charter school where she has always had supportive and helpful teachers in the past, and so despite the homework struggles, she mostly enjoyed school. There is a school-wide system in place for daily homework accountability ("leadership" folders and a learning plan) which worked well for my older and younger children, and worked so-so for my 5th grader, with a lot of teachers' help.

This year is different. She has said to me that she feels kind of lost. Her teachers have not been very responsive when I have concerns. When I expressed concern that I hardly ever saw her learning plan come home to be signed, that it was often lost, and when I did see it once in a blue moon, it was not filled out, one teacher said to me in an email that in 5th grade, they expect the kids to take responsibility for their own work. That is not much of an answer. What if kids can't handle the responsibility?

I discovered at the last conference that her standardized test scores have been slipping significantly, which I find alarming. She is incredibly bright.

After school today I got a call from her teacher, Ms. H. My daughter goes to a different teacher for writing, which is the last class of the day. The writing teacher is a bit of a taskmaster and can be rather...unfeeling...for lack of a better description. The kids were given an assignment to write about "whatever you want" for the remainder of class. My daughter just sat there, not working, for 30 minutes. She was not disruptive in any way, she just didn't do anything. The teacher told her she had to stay after to write 8 lines. Again, my daughter sat there, for another 30 minutes, not doing anything. Somewhere in there she got very upset and was crying, but I am not sure when that started. She was finally sent back to Ms. H's room to get her assignment done. She still would not comply, so Ms. H said just write 4 lines, and then my daughter wrote 4 lines about how much she hated her writing teacher and how she is the worst teacher ever, and "this is the truest thing I have ever written". I don't remember the exact words but I'm sure it will end up in a file.

I immediately recognized that this whole situation was ADHD-related, and I said so. Ms. H responded that writing is important and they don't want my daughter to "use her ADHD as a crutch". WHA??? Wow.

Here is why I am upset and disappointed in the teachers:

1. I am upset that the writing teacher, noticing that a student was not working (but was not goofing off or disrupting), would not wonder why? and find out what was wrong! That is why I chose the word "unfeeling". What does the teacher imagine is happening here? When I simply asked my daughter why she didn't do it, she told me the door was open and the class across the hall was noisy. Also, she couldn't settle her mind on what to write about.

2. Assigning kids to write on "whatever you want" can be difficult for even focused kids. Asking a kid with ADHD to do that at the end of the school day sounds like a recipe for total paralysis. Do teachers not understand this? How can you have taught for a decade and not get this? If she can't even start the assignment, maybe she needs some coaching on how to choose a subject, or maybe she should choose from a short list of topics.

3. Staying after class is not a regular punishment, so my daughter would have no reason to expect this. She was not warned that if she did not get it done, she would have to stay.

On Tuesdays, my daughter goes to Mythology Club after school, which is one of her most favorite things, and one of her few reasons to go to school at all. Today happened to be the National Mythology Exam, which is the point of the club and very, very important to my daughter. Two years in a row, she received a perfect score on the test and was awarded the Athena Medal. It made a HUGE impression on her when, as a lost little third grader, always in trouble with missing homework, and sometimes still wetting her pants at school, she was awarded her medal in front of the student body and got a standing ovation.

My daughter ran to her club after she was released, and the teacher told her she would pull her out of class "a few minutes at a time" over the next 3 days, so she could take the mythology exam, and if it is done by Friday, they will be able to turn it in. I can't imagine this as good enough. I'm going to have to go down there now and raise a stink. I'm angry. I'm heartbroken. I hate confrontation.

03-06-13, 05:36 AM
Well to begin with, that teacher needs to f**k off, just my opinion. You really should have gotten her an IEP (which I am sure you realize now). Teachers do not have to do certain things, and while some of them are the most wonderful people, some of them like to "do their job" and then go home, lumping every kid into one neat compartment. In order to have a leg to stand on, you need to have an IEP to fall back on. This way when xyz isnt done, you can ask what things from the IEP were implemented. I have some more ideas but I dont know where youre from so I dont know if the laws here in the US are the same.

03-06-13, 11:15 AM
Have your daughter assessed for ADHD, get her an IEP and smile politely at the teachers while you constantly check up on their compliance with the accommodations. :) You might see her anxiety lessen as a result.

Also let that teacher know, that you require a professional to assess your daughter and determine whether it is a "crutch" or a disability that is harming your daughter's ability in school.

Many bright + ADHD kids hit a wall in middle school because the work becomes more independent with less motivation, and they have trouble at starting and persisting at long term activities. A week long book report should be broken into daily steps that she should have to finish each day, for instance.

Have you considered that your bright child might do even better at school if her ADHD was taken into consideration? Bright kids can learn to compensate for their ADHD and come out looking just fine, which is why teachers might not see a problem. Especially ADD kids who do not stand out as hyper active.

If your daughter has problems with open ended assignments then this seems like something that would be very easy to correct, and should never have been allowed to devolve into a conflict.

Make sure the Mythology exam is seen to, because ADHD kids need something to look forward to and engage their interests at schools. If it is important to your daughter, then make sure the teacher's know it is not open for debate.

GOOD LUCK!!!:rolleyes:

03-06-13, 11:42 AM
You are right, Sarah, we should have gotten an IEP. We didn't because things were going pretty well and it seems like a big pain in the neck.

When we first switched to this charter school for my oldest, when she was in first grade, I asked about programs for gifted/talented kids, and the school's reply was that the curriculum was difficult and flexible enough to accommodate most G/T kids, and IMO they were right. It has been interesting and challenging enough for my girls. That gave me a false sense of security; that this school was doing everything they could to meet the needs of individual students. I naiively thought anyone who would bother to become an elementary school teacher, and seek out a job at a charter school instead of getting a union gig, would notice my kid having a struggle and say "what's the matter, bug?" and they'd work it out together. Thinking back on it, among all the nice teachers I had as a child, I clearly remember one or two whose contempt for me was barely contained. They just wanted a job with summers off, I guess. Hindsight is 20/20.

So we are definitely getting an IEP. I'm not sure what to ask for, or who to consult about it. I skimmed the paper by Dr. Russell Barkley, pinned in this forum, about what accommodations to get, but the first several are all about discipline, immediate, swift, and worse than the other kids get, and I can see her writing teacher pointing to that and saying "See? I was totally justified." My daughter was never very hyperactive, and has long outgrown any disruptive tendencies. Her response to rules or discipline is not muted in any way; if anything, she is hypersensitive to discipline. The last thing my inattentive little mouse needs is the swift hand of justice - when confronted with a stressful situation, she panics, her mind swirls, and she shuts down, and forgets how to communicate. That's why she couldn't write 8 stupid lines. We're still working it out at home ourselves, but it seems to me that for her, firm boundaries are great, but only when they are non-threatening, friendly and encouraging. Sometimes she needs a LOT of encouraging. Instead of doling out punishments, I want her teachers to look her in the eye, understand her, and gently coach her to order her thoughts and help her know her own mind. OK, that is not going to happen, so in lieu of that, I need to know what is reasonable to ask for.

What and who is involved in getting an IEP? My daughter received her dx from her pediatrician and has never seen a psychologist. Ideally, this process would involve only Team Kid members, but I'm concerned that the school will be protecting their own interests, at the expense of my daughter. Of course I want to be the #1 advocate for my daughter, but I am a rank amateur. Should I be getting other people involved? Gah, how do I do this?

03-06-13, 11:54 AM
Thanks, CanadaMom. That was exactly my experience in school; always compensating! Nobody recognized inattentive ADD back then, so I was "lazy" and "stubborn" "not paying attention" and "not working to my potential". When I went home in the afternoon, it was as if I'd stepped through a vortex into another world, and there were books to read and songs to sing and siblings to play with and TV to watch, but "homework" did not exist there (in spite of my Mother's repeated pleas). Oh, the dread, when I stepped back through that vortex and in sight of the teachers' judgement! I managed by doing well on tests, mostly. (There is no doing well on math tests if you haven't learned all the skills!)

I would love for my daughter's experience to be better than mine.

03-06-13, 06:28 PM
You need to write a letter (not an email) to the principal, requesting that your daughter be evaluated for an an IEP and a 504 plan. (From what you've said here, she is more likely to end up with a 504 plan, since she doesn't need speech, OT, academic pull-outs, or a modified curriculum, but it doesn't hurt to evaluate for both.) The wrightslaw website or the book From Emotions to Advocacy should have some example letters.