View Full Version : How much to expect from the teacher?

06-05-14, 03:18 PM
This is in part vent and in part trying to figure out how to proceed. DD8 came home with a folder of poems that their class has been working over the past few months/year. Two of them were more autobiographical, and in them, my kid says several times that she is weird, needs peace, negative, boring, feeling frustrated. She mentions being silly and joyous once each, but weird is there 5 times. These are things I know she feels because she has said this to me and something we are working on this summer with meds and therapy. But I am upset that her teacher said nothing to me about this. I have talked to the teacher about my concerns about my daughter, but I always felt like this teacher really felt like she was a bother and just annoying. Her teachers the past two years never made me feel like this. Tomorrow is the last day of school, so I don't see the need to bring it up to the teacher. But I do have a meeting with the counselor next week to go over her ADHD diagnosis and figure out a plan for next year. Is this something I should bring up as a concern for teacher placement, or am I being super sensitive about this and should let it go?

06-05-14, 05:26 PM
I have found over the past several years, since my son was diagnosed, that teachers come in two varieties. There are the type that will take notice to things and reach out to help, and they type who sees these types of children as a burden in the classroom. My son has had both types, and unfortunately, has the latter this year. We've been struggling all year with it. My emails and notes to the teacher come back with simple one sentence responses, my calls are returned days later if at all, and a general "I'm too busy" attitude.

And I understand they ARE busy, but my son does have a 504 plan in place and he should be doing what that calls for, at a minimum.

Maybe your child was having a bad day when she wrote that poem, but either way, when it comes down to it YOU will need to be the one to take notice of these things and be proactive about finding out whats behind it. I've learned you can't really rely on anyone else where your child is concerned. Sad, but the way it is.

06-05-14, 05:27 PM
I would bring it up with the counselor, by the way, but I don't see it going anywhere.

06-05-14, 06:41 PM
I am weird and I need peace, and I frequently have problems with boredom and frustration. And if I wrote those things in a poem, I would be mortified if it was brought up in any way. Poems are private interior writing, not cries for help and not medical history. Please leave it alone.

(I think if a child has ADHD and does not consider herself weird, then she might be poorly adjusted and unaware.)

06-05-14, 07:16 PM
honestly, from what I've seen, I do think for an 8 year old to be talking about themselves that way is a little unusual - I mean not totally off the walls or anything, but unusual.
That's the kind of thing where if I saw it I would bring it up to the guidance counselor and maybe have them talk with the kid (or I hope I would!)

I think you may want to see if you can get a teacher who is more sensitive, and mention your concerns to her future teacher.

06-05-14, 10:21 PM
This was not a poem I stumbled upon. The kids wrote them, collated them into a book and passed around for the other kids to write and comment upon. The last page is full of generic comments from her classmates about her poems. She gave me the book yesterday and asked me to read it. I agree that it's not medical history and it's not a cry for help, but I do think these are things she wanted to share, or at least was ok with sharing. Although now as I type this, the fact that it was shared so extensively maybe means it wasn't to be taken the way I was taking it?

But it does concern me that the overall tone of these two poems are more negative and self critical. It frustrates me a little that she wrote that she's frustrated, boring, negative, etc and that the teacher didn't say anything to me about it. But this also a teacher who hasn't been flexible with her at all and has not been very good about communicating. I have tried to be proactive with this teacher, emailing her periodically to assess how my kid is doing, always trying to be open in my discussions with her, trying to set up meetings, etc. She isn't always the most responsive, and it's been a bit of a shock for me because we were lucky to have the teachers we did for the past two years. But it's been a good lesson for me to learn that not all teachers are proactive.

My question was really to question if I was being oversensitive to the fact that the teacher didn't bring something like this up. I already have an appointment set up with the counselor to evaluate next steps towards a 504, etc. My daughter loves this counselor and will often just go to her office before class starts to chat with her. She is involved in placement of students for the following year and is far more empathetic towards my daughter than her current teacher. So I feel like she might help with next year's placement, but I also am trying to be objective and diplomatic about which topics and issues I broach with her.

06-05-14, 11:56 PM
Poetry is expression. Sometimes there is a need to express things that are self-critical. Sometimes bad things need to be said. I think it's healthy and good to put such things into a poem, and might be a good sign for her mental health that she writes them. Because it's poetry, your daughter meant it to be taken as art, and that includes several possibilities:

- she might be writing from the point of view of an imaginary character,
- she might be re-expressing things she has heard others say,
- she might be copying someone else's style,
- she might be "trying on" emotions that she isn't really sure she has, or perhaps trying to impress with her grasp of what she considers "grown-up" feelings...

... there are other artistic possibilities too, I'm sure. But I urge you to read your daughter's poetry as art, not as some kind of mental-health journal. Stigmatizing and penalizing her creativity by turning every so-called "negative" word or thought into some kind of inquisition into her sanity is not fair and not helpful. Having a safe space to say bad stuff is important - please don't steal that from her. Feeling constantly examined and judged is already a painful thing for people with ADHD in the rest of life, let alone getting our poetry analyzed for clues as well.

Unless your daughter asks directly for your poetry advice, just appreciate it for the artistic qualities it has, and leave it at that.

06-06-14, 04:14 AM
I think its more important that you see this and talk to your daughter about it than worry about why the teacher didnt bring it up. I was a weird kid and wrote weird stuff and it was my mother who would notice these things. The teacher might have just assumed that you knew about her work already.

06-06-14, 04:50 AM
I think as a teacher I would be weary to bring that sort of thing up to a parent, the parent might consider it as being over-involved and nosy...

Teachers (especially here in South Africa, not sure about other countries) are often punished for getting emotionally involved with their learners, its a very wrong practice, but some teachers have built an emotional wall around themselves to avoid any and all personal involvement with learners outside of the curriculum in order to protect themselves legaly.

06-06-14, 06:02 AM
I am not a teacher, but if I were, I probably would have read the poem and talked to the child in private about it. I am not sure if I would have let the rest of the class see her calling herself 'weird'. I may even try to explain that she isn...In other words I would encourage her to maybe write an additional poem as well (keep the 'weird' one and send it to mom) but have her secondary work for the rest of the class. I think its the teachers job to be aware of classroom dynamics and kids remember stuff like that... That is just my opinion...I know how you feel mom....:)

Ms. Mango
06-07-14, 12:17 PM
I think it's a little unusual that an 8 yo has that level of introspection and self-knowledge. Not that it's impossible, just unusual. We have had several incidences of suicides in our school district and a neighboring district and, at the high school level, this negative talk would at least put up a red flag. You're not wrong to be concerned. I'd also wonder if she heard other kids calling her weird.

My mother taught elementary school for many year and kids did say the darndest things. Some funny, some heartbreaking. There were times she pulled a kid aside and asked questions based on things they did or said to see if a parent needed to be called or the child sent to the guidance counselor. I know you have no evidence to suggest that the teacher did this, though. I think she should have at least spoken to your DD, but it's hard to make some people care or be empathetic. Good news is your DD made it through the year and the school seems to be willing to work with you for next year.

As far as next year, you do want a teacher who is willing to communicate with you. I can't exactly tell from your post, but it sounds like you are starting a med trial over the summer. If that's the case, it's especially important to get feedback once school starts. In addition to placement, I'd let the counselor know about your plans for medication and therapy over the summer and ask her what she recommends be put in place to make sure there is good communication between you and the school.

06-07-14, 02:17 PM
Personally, as a parent, I'm not comfortable with writing assignments that require my kid to share personal things about themselves. Especially young kids in a group environment. There are laws that specifically indicate what a kid can and can't be asked to share in class. But that's another thread.

I think you're justified in your anger. And if your teacher is going to require your daughter to write these kinds of things, I think it's reasonable that you ask to be kept in on the loop. You're not interfering with the teacher's lesson plan, you just need to know.

It depends on how strongly you feel about it. My son is going into 2nd grade and I'm gonna establish communication with his teacher. (I'm divorced, and I live in a different city than my son) I'm gonna email the teacher from time to time. I did that this year, his teacher didn't email me back. I didn't take it personally. And in my emails, I always thanked him for what he does, and mentioned that my son loves is class. I always tried to have a non threatening, reasonable tone, even though I was concerned about things(not what he was writing, but other things), and wanted some info.

For 2nd grade, I'm gonna look up the common core standards for California and see whether or not my son will be writing personal stuff and go from there. The idea will not be to STOP him from writing these things, but rather to keep me in the loop. I haven't quite figured out how to do that yet. But I do want to know.

In the case of your daughter, it might not be appropriate for her to share that kind of stuff. And if her teacher is going to ask her to do this kind of stuff, you need to know. You could simply say "how can we work out something where I can be aware of what she's writing?" The idea is that you're not trying to be difficult, you just want to be part of it.