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Old 09-24-12, 02:22 PM
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More issues with my 1st Grader

I apologize in advance if this post is long. I have a hard time getting all the details that I feel are relevant in a short post.

I recently posted about my 1st grade daughter, her 1st spelling test, and my anxieties about the test and the teacher. I think it was called "Talk me down" or something like that. I also apologize for repeating myself between the posts, but I felt that the new issues are different enough to merit a new thread.

My daughter has been in "Special Education" since she was about 14 months old. She had great difficulty controlling her muscle movements. She was floppy and had low muscle tone and was at least a little delayed at all of her milestones. She also had some pretty severe sensory issues. All of the early intervention dealt with trying to help her get up to speed on gross and fine motor skills. As she got older, impulsivity, fidgety-ness, and distractibility started to be the bigger problems for her.

She had a wonderful kindergarten teacher who told me a few times that my daughter "changed her life". She came in with a positive attitude, every day, and always did her best. Her teacher told both me and my daughter, all the time, that she loved her. And my daughter was READING by the end of the year.

The "problems" began as soon as we found out her 1st grade teacher. When the other moms asked about teacher assigments, around 8 out of 10 moms said something along the lines of "good luck! You'll need it" They described her as being someone who highly valued conformity, said she was not very compassionate, that she was an extremely effective teacher in terms of getting information into the kids' heads, but clueless about children's emotional lives and about the parent/child relationship. One of the things that I heard over and over was "She likes children who behave".

Oh crap.

Knowing how high-keyed some of the parents in our school can be, I have tried very hard to give her the benefit of the doubt. But it has been REALLY HARD. I keep thinking that when SO MANY parents say the same thing, maybe the are correct. And the teacher has not really done anything to make me feel any better. I attempted to meet with her before school began so I could talk to her about my daughter's speciasl needs, and while she was not rude, she was neither friendly nor accomodating. I ended up having to write a LONG email to her, which is less than ideal considering how easy it is to misconstrue the tone of an e-mail.

The first 2 weeks went fine. Apparently, she stayed in her seat and raised her hand before answering questions, and didn't get too fridgety. Things at home were just OK. My daughter was EXHAUSTED by the time she got home and she still had homework to do. She also started to get kind of rude, mouthy, and sullen. Very unusual for her. If I ticked her off, she would either just shut down and not say anything or she would start crying and tell me that I hurt her feelings.

Then, she started to have accidents at school. I will not pretend that she is 100% potty trained. She still has accidents ALL THE TIME, but RARELY at school because it is such a structured environment. I sent a change of clothes to school with her at the begining of the year and it sat unused in her backpack for almost 3 weeks. Then she had back to back days where she had 2 accidents at school.

The first time it happened, she was already in her "emergency clothes" and was waiting in line for the school bus to go home. The teacher said that she didn't know what to do (all of this through e-mail) because it was so late in the day, so she had her board the bus and the teacher and bus driver put down some layers of paper towels for her to sit on. In front of all the other kids on the bus. I'm not sure what I would have done in her situation, but I know that I would have done my best to preserve the child's dignity.

The next day, also at the very end of the day, she had a 2nd accident (again, she was already in her "emergency clothes"). Instead of bringing clothes to school for her to change into, I just picked her up and took her to the doctor to make sure that she didn't have a medical issue causing all this. She had a little rash that came from sitting in urine wet clothes, but no infection or anything like that.

Last Friday (3 days ago) I got an email from the teacher that my daughter was blurting out answers in class in a loud voice, having trouble keeping her seat and desk still, getting up from her chair, "being off task more than on task", and having trouble following routines that she had seemed to have down pat. In other words, the exact behavior that I had tried to tell her about and the reason that we give her stimulant medicine.

My response was a long, detailed email with suggestions for keeping her in her chair (including some things that are in her IEP) and for modifying her behavior. I explained that one of the most difficult aspects of teaching my daughter is that her behavior is "consistently inconsistent". I suggested that she choose the behavior that is most disturbing to her and use a "sticker chart" to POSITIVELY reinforce the behavior. If she raises her hand and uses her "inside voice" to answer a question, she gets a sticker. As I said, it was LONG and it was DETAILED and it had the suggestions that we have had success with in the past.

The teacher responded that she thought my daughter might be acting up because "the work was getting harder". But the biggest problem that I saw was that she essentially shot down my suggestion for using behavior charts because "With our [school-wide behavior system], there are already so many positive reinforcement incentives in place, I would rather not add anything else to the mix in the classroom until we are out of other options, for the sake of effectiveness at this point in the year." (That's an exact quote from her email)

She offered no suggestions for how she would handle the behavior in the classroom (this is a teacher who was known for yelling at her KINDERGARTEN students). And from what I am reading above, she does NOT want to offer incentives for positive behavior, which pretty much only leaves 2 options. Ignore the behavior, which means that my daughter gets away with the unacceptable behavior and that she is likely to fall behind because she is not on task. Or PUNISH the behavior which is caused by her disability.

I didn't trust myself to respond to the teacher's email. I talked to my daughter about the teacher's expectations in class and said that the teacher asked me to talk to her about raising her hand and staying in her chair. I understand that the teacher wants the kids to raise their hands, but I was so flipping happy to hear that she KNEW THE ANSWER and was TRYING TO PARTICIPATE in class, that I didn't have the heart to mention that she needed to be quieter. She's in 1st GRADE for crying out loud and is EXCITED that she knows the answer. And as for keeping her desk and chair still, they have not been using her "wiggle seat" cushion, which is part of her IEP, so have no right to even ask this of her.

Her dad and I talked about it and decided that I would send an email to the teacher that said "Let's see how things go this week. If she is still having the behavior issues, we would like to schedule a conference to chat about it in person" Casual and non-confrontational.

But I feel like I sent my daughter to school today with no "plan of attack". There is only so much we can do from home. I can talk to her, but I don't expect that she will remember in the heat of the moment. I plan to go to the school this week to listen outside the door and make sure my daughter isn't getting yelled at.

Anyone have any suggestions we can share with the teacher that don't involve behavior charts? I'm pretty chapped that she is not willing to do this since, from all reports and our experience, it is the intervention that works BEST for our daughter. But I'm willing to try anything so long as it doesn't hurt my daughter.
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Old 09-24-12, 03:03 PM
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Re: More issues with my 1st Grader

Sorry your daughter lost the teacher lottery this year. My daughter lost that lottery for both grade one and two. Both teachers just kept telling me day after day about my daughters behaviour and no matter how many times I gave suggestions they couldn't be bothered. They just wanted a cookie cutter robo child. My daughter is definitely NOT that.

My daughters usually did not too bad the first weeks and then she just couldn't hold it together any longer. She got extremely stressed in that "hostile" environment. I mean hostile in the sense that the entire day was so hard for her to deal with( both medicated and not).

You may not get anywhere going in to the meeting trying to be non confrontational. If she is blatantly not following things set out in her IEP, then inform her your going to have to let the principal know so that he can become involved. Even ask when your setting up the appt. that you'd like him to be present. I'm sure she'll not want that, but it might show her your really serious about getting some action. I spent a lot of time in my daughters class last year and she was always behaved when I was there. Seems like when I was gone she was suddenly the tasmanian devil and everyone else behaved like angels ( this was not the case anytime I observed). I came to not trust her views on my daughter or how she treated my daughter when I wasn't there. On two occasions I came to p/u and my daughter was flipping her desk over in frustration and the teacher was ignoring her untill I walked in. Then she hurredly started to explain the problem, It was always something minor that could have been dealt with easily if the teacher bothered to take the time to treat my daughter with any bit of care.

My only option to safe guard my daughters well being was to leave the school. The teachers had absolutely no ability to deal with an ADHD child. They believe that once medicated they will be "just like everyone else". She would ask my daughter often "Did you take your medicine today" Totally inappropriate. The problem is the school systems complete inability to adapt and face the fact that some kids just aren't cut out to spend 6 hours sitting in a desk.

Good luck in your meeting, I hope you can get through to her.

Perhaps grab onto the comment about "the work is getting to hard" and ask to see it. Perhaps it is and for a while she could give her something a little simpler ( to build confidence)or perhaps your daughter CAN do the work, just the volume is overwhelming so she could give your daughter less questions. Same work, just less. I know that is very common, especially if she also has gross motor issues. I found that when I helped out in class many of the worksheets were confusing, even to me.

Ask if after the whole class has started, she check in quickly with your daughter to ensure she understood the questions and what is expected of her.

If you think she could handle it without playing with it, get a kitchen timer ( dollar store one) and tape it to her desk. Have the teacher set it to 5 or ten minutes and tell your daugher to work till it goes off. this helps my daughter at home because otherwise she "feels" like she has been doing something forever.
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Old 09-24-12, 03:54 PM
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Re: More issues with my 1st Grader

If things are not better by the end of the week - I agree that you need to call

a meeting with the teacher, the principal, and anyone else involved in the IEP.

They have to follow the IEP, it's the law. If the teacher can't or won't do that,

the principal needs to place your daughter with a different teacher.

The sooner in the school year this gets sorted out, the better. Good luck.


PS, like you say, your daughter is only in the first grade. She cannot tell the

teacher what she needs, you have to advocate for her.
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Old 09-24-12, 04:43 PM
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Re: More issues with my 1st Grader

Thanks so much for your suggestions!

I do want to go through the "proper" chain of command on this and feel like, first Husband and I will talk to the teacher one-on-one to see what happens. Husband feels like I am over-reacting to this a little, so I want to be CERTAIN that I am not taking things out of context, since that does go both ways with e-mail. Maybe I misunderstood??

And, who knows? Maybe I can educate her and help her be a better teacher. And better person.

But I'm glad to know that my feeling that I do not want to play the "wait and see" game. I feel that, if this is not the right classroom for her, we need to get her into the right classroom as soon as we can.

I've asked her to keep me up to date on the behavior issues. Daily would be preferable because even as an adult, if you tell me I did something wrong LAST WEEK, I may or may not remember what I did, that I did it, or why I did it. (of course, I have my own ADHD issues)

I'd say that if she refuses to help develop a mutually acceptable PLAN for modifying my daughter's behavior at the meeting, then it's time to have a meeting with the principal and call an IEP meeting to make sure that her behavioral goals are still appropriate.

The thing that is really getting under my skin is that we had my daughter's most recent IEP in February. That's pretty near the end of school in my district. At that time, I talked to the principal about being conscientious about the teacher whe chose for my daughter. She got a little defensive and ASSURED me that she would choose an appropriate teacher.

Of all the comments I have heard about the teachers at this school, I never heard anything worse that "She's not a very touchy-feely, snuggly kind of person, but she's a GREAT teacher". Except for the teacher that my daughter has this year. I have heard terrible things about her. Things that could / should have gotten her fired. And THIS is the teacher that the principal carefully chose for my daughter?

Is it possible to put something in her IEP about how her teacher is chosen and whether we can have a say in it?
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Old 09-24-12, 05:49 PM
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Re: More issues with my 1st Grader

It's time to get someone from the special ed department involved. They are the resource people for the teaching staff, they should be helping the teacher implement the IEP. Of course your thoughts on things like the sticker chart should be given consideration, but the teacher being dismissive towards you. Give the special ed folks a heads up about the difficulty your DD is having, tell them what you've suggested (and had shot down) and ask if they can come up with an effective solution.

Also, let them know that items specified in the IEP, like the cushion, are not in DD's classroom--as far as you know. I don't know how it works in your district, but in ours the special ed department is responsible for making sure those items get to the appropriate classroom.
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Old 09-25-12, 02:00 PM
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Re: More issues with my 1st Grader

Ms. Mango -

Thanks! I will contact her SPED teachers today. I talked to my daughter this morning about her "wiggle seat" and she told me that they are NOT using it. As far as I can remember, it's in her IEP, so it needs to be in place. They may have been trying to see if she could go without it for some reason, but it's time for her to get it back. And I wasn't thinking that they may offer some suggestions that I didn't think about. She sees them 4 out of 5 days that she is at school. The only reason that it isn't 5/5 is because they use one day to do all their admin stuff like IEPs.

I will keep you guys up to date on what happens.
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Old 09-26-12, 02:55 PM
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Re: More issues with my 1st Grader

Well, her SPED teacher told me that they haven't been using the "wiggle seat" because "She hasn't needed it". Are you kidding me???? Somewhere around 1/2 the time we've been back in school, she has had trouble staying in her seat and keeping her seat and desk still and "She didn't seem to need it"?????

She went on to say that "I think some of the work is pretty hard for her and it gets overwhelming or frustrating especially at times when she is working independently."

OH. NO. YOU. DIDN'T.

My daughter was given an IQ test as she was transitioning from preschool to kindergarten and it showed an IQ of around 90. There was the added caveat that it was her "functional IQ" meaning that her actual IQ is HIGHER, but her disability prevents her from showing that. A score of 100 is considered "average".

So the concepts that they are teaching one month into First Grade are "too difficult" for someone with an average IQ?

Remember, this is from her Special Education teacher (and the person in charge of SPED at her school) who should KNOW BETTER.

Let me tell you, Mommy almost went "Super-fly TNT" on that ignorant lady.

Yes, my daughter has some pretty serious issues with Executive Function. But she is NOT mentally retarded (gee, I really HATE that phrase). She has trouble SHOWING WHAT SHE KNOWS.

It's one thing to swap her teacher for another teacher, but her SPED teacher will be her SPED teacher for as long as she is employed at this school and she is treating my daughter as if she were mentally retarded.

I am beside myself with FURY and GRIEF right now. And really trying to decide what I want to do.

I have serious doubts about whether I can home school her because of my own issues with ADHD, but I don't see how I can continue to send her to these people who have so little faith in her and virtually no understanding of her true disability.
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Old 09-26-12, 03:36 PM
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Re: More issues with my 1st Grader

Wow, I am so sorry your going through all this. It shouldn't be this hard. I know it is though because you are living my last two years at regular school. I have been there where your crying with frustration and feeling helpless to get your daughter the help she needs.

Please understand that when they say "the work is too hard" ( I heard this as well with my 8 year old daughter who has also tested out at an 11 or 12 y/o level in reasoning/understanding) this isn't a sign of lack of intelligence. She may have a LD. My daughter is smart as a tack, it's always been evident, but she cannot grasp reading at a grade level. It's not lack of intelligence. It's a learning difference. She needs to be taught differently. Public schools don't have that capability. I teach her at home with many methods I research online. I spend my days figuring out lessons for her after school. It is short bits focussed to target her weaknesses. Each week is a different theme. I make it fun. She responds well to that. I do active games to learn sightwords. Colour code sounds in words to help her visualize and remember.

She left that school. I didn't trust them with her. She is too amazing a person for them to crush daily over the same issues. There was one SPED teacher there who I loved. He was great with her & understood her, but he only had 1/2 an hour a day with her & 4 other struggling kids. It wasn't enough. Her brother and sister remained there. For them ( regular learners) it is just fine. For her it was torture. They refused to accept when I gave them info. about her eye dysfunction. They repeatedly gave her tasks I had told them she physically was not able to do & was in therapy for. They refused to offer her and IEP, they continued to tell me she had GAD. When they were the CAUSE of her anxiety.

Sorry I don't have too much in the way of inspiration for you. I gave up on the school and chose a different path.
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Old 09-26-12, 04:09 PM
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Re: More issues with my 1st Grader

Mommytriz -

I honestly don't know if she has been tested for LDs. Since she was in preschool the last time they did any formal testing, can they even test for LDs when they can't yet read?

When I work with her at home on homework, she seems to understand the concepts that they are trying to teach, but she seems to need one-on-one attention to know what she is supposed to do to fill in the worksheets to show her answers.

Her reading is still a little shaky, but she understands how to sound out words with short vowel sounds and up to 4 - 5 letters. She is still in First grade (and only 1 month into the school year), so I'm not sure how far along she SHOULD be at this point.

And I have to almost constantly re-direct her back to her work. She gets side tracked (Me: Spell "Sit". Her: Sit, I tell the dog to sit. I love the dog, where is she? What was I supposed to be doing again?)

I think there may be some auditory processing issues going on as well because she was having some difficulty with hearing the difference between the "ts" ending (as in "sits") and the "x" ending (as in "six"), but STILL only missed 1 word on her spelling test!!!!

I'm so glad your daughter has a wonderful Mom like you who recognizes that she's an amazing person in spite of her difficulties.

I feel the same way about my daughter. This little girl has the most beautiful, kind, generous soul of anyone I have ever met. I worry about her all the time, but she hs this way of winning people over. I have heard over and over again from people involved with her "She changed my life".

She works SO HARD and, up until about a week or so ago, she does it CHEERFULLY. She starts every day with a smile and an eagerness to learn about the world that I have never seen before. I don't want this crap-tastic school to crush that spirit because she has trouble filling out a stupid worksheet that makes exactly zero difference in the great grand scheme of her life.

Does your daughter go to a different school now or do you teach her at home?
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Old 09-26-12, 06:17 PM
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Re: More issues with my 1st Grader

Hi,
I am a sophomore in hihh school (private school that is) and even I know that teacher is a (excuse this offensive word) IDIOT... what kind of teacher doesnt follow IEP's. You should have the school princepal take action... and if he doesnt than contact child study team... (in charge of IEP's and such) and get them involved. EVERY KID IS ENTITLED TO A PROPER EDUCATION. Action must be taken (fast).

Good luck
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Old 09-26-12, 06:33 PM
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Re: More issues with my 1st Grader

Brandon,

Thanks so much for your post! It took me some time to come up with a word that was nicer than "idiot", but yeah, she is one.

They have to get the wiggle seat back from the OT, who took it with her last year. Need to talk to them about it to make sure it's not going to happen that way again. If I don't just change schools altogether.
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Old 09-26-12, 06:38 PM
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Re: More issues with my 1st Grader

My daughter is now going to a new school in our district. It has no classrooms, no walls or desks. It is completely outdoor, environmental learning being offered in conjunction with a local university. They learn through hands on, in context with their world, in a way that makes sense. To my daughter, doing pointless worksheets just does not make sense. However, give her a magnifying glass, a container and a river, tell her to find different forms of invertebrates , then compare and classify the different ones kids found. She's all over that. She is more calm and thoughtful and not stressed out. There is only discovery and learning now. Learning a new way to look at and explore the world.

I am still doing all the home learning things I mentioned previously to support her academic advancement at her pace, but her new school has re inforced to me that creating a love of learning is more important than creating someone who can get an A on a spelling test or sit quietly in their chair for an hour at a time and keep quiet.
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Old 09-26-12, 06:39 PM
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Re: More issues with my 1st Grader

Okay, following the chain of command you've found that the first link is weak!

If the teacher is complaining about things that the IEP is supposed to address
but she's not using the IEP - then it's time to move on to the next link in the
chain of command.

If she told you that working independently is causing problems for your daughter
but didn't offer any ideas on how to address that - then it's time to move on
to the next link in the chain of command.

Please speak to whoever is the next link in the chain of command very soon.

Tomorrow would be good.
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Old 09-26-12, 08:37 PM
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Re: More issues with my 1st Grader

This has been disheartening.

I was hoping the SPED person could help you but I guess not. Totally agree with Lunacie, keep moving up the chain until you find someone competent.
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Old 09-26-12, 09:38 PM
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Re: More issues with my 1st Grader

I cannot believe its been 20 years nearly since I left high school and the degree of incompetency and lack of understanding with teachers is still just as bad or even worse at an all time high of ignorance
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