Monday, November 22, 2010

Shaking With Fury

That teacher... I have NEVER run into a woman so disengaged from the children she teaches.

23 comments:

Kelly said...

Im sorry you're going through this. We went through it for 3 years before I finally said "Enough." We have been doing homeschool with Mykaela for about a month and I believe it's the best decision we ever made. I have seen such a change in her attitude, anxiety level and self esteem. It's AMAZING!!! Totally worth the extra work and effort on my part! Hope things get better soon.

wootini said...

Oh no... I am so sorry. What a miserable situation for you all, especially Kid. And she is just at the age when you want to foster a love of learning. :(

My son had a tough 3rd grade year last year due to poor fit with BOTH his teachers, but nothing nearly as bad as what you're describing.

And I totally hear you on the anxiety issues from your post the other day - it is making all the difference in the world to my son this year to have 2 teachers who 'get' him much better.

At one point early on I was on the receiving end of this rant from him, all because of a forgotten social studies notebook: "It's too hard, I can't do it, I'm going to fail 4th grade, and then I won't graduate from high school or go to college, or get a job, or get married and have a house, or kids". !!! (You're 9 years old, son! Holy Toledo!)

Thankfully his teachers this year have been able to meet him where he is and have greatly helped defuse his anxiety (or at least bring it down to more manageable levels, so that now a forgotten book is no longer a one-way ticket to the poorhouse in his mind).

I hope things get better soon.

Julie said...

Oh shoot. Sorry it went so badly.

Wait until I post about my experience today. Not a huge thing. More of a "really?" said in a wtf tone.

I am so sorry about this whole thing. At least you will not question yourself if/when you take Kid out of the school or switch classes.

Mrs Furious said...

I don't even know if I can accurately describe how terrible it was. The teacher cares about 1 thing... turning out a product. Period. She doesn't care how many questions you get right... she cares if you finished in time. She can't send work home for her to do... because that is not how they'll do it in 3rd grade. She can't comprehend that different teaching styles exist and when we tried to explain that they did things differently at her old school she said "What, they didn't teach?" with a smirk. YET Kid is actually at grade level in every subject. She imitated Kid (negatively)... and while I've certainly seen her make the same absent face... it was completely rude and unnecessary. Clearly this woman has no sympathy for shyness/anxiety. At all. No room for anyone who can't stand up for themselves (as she suggested even stand up for herself against the teacher... odd suggestion). Doesn't understand test anxiety. Doesn't care if Kid does finish her desk work assignments (obviously since she won't send them home) making me wonder how important the learning aspect of this work is? Obviously, not. Also said she looks at Kid just sitting there staring off and imagines her doing that in high school and failing. WTF?! She is in the first part of 2nd grade. Is there no room for any kind of development in the next 10 years?! Or any consideration that she is BORED and half the time distracted and lost... because there is NO TEACHER DIRECTED WORK. I would stare off too if I just had to sit down and pound out worksheets.
But take away... she is not a safe person for Kid. Kid is not going to get better... she is only getting worse because this teacher is so cold and intimidating.
Unfortunately we've waited long enough that now Kid feels like she has friends. She is devastated and pissed that I'm doing this to her. Even though at 8 she can acknowledge that she hasn't learned any new concepts, that she dislikes her teacher (she has always loved her teachers and been well loved back), and that her classwork is boring. Kill me!! I can't win. I HAVE to remove her. I think this woman is the worst kind of damaging presence a sensitive child could have. She doesn't recognize any redeeming traits in Kid (and Kid is a great kid!). Because she only cares about speed and not quality she has Kid pushed into lower level groups than her actual ability... which just reinforces the boredom, distraction, and overall lack of interest. Which is only going to result in her being further behind at the end of the year than she was in the beginning... which will then set off a new cycle for 3rd grade. It's a nightmare.

Smitty said...

Can you ask for another teacher in the same school?

I assume you've told the principal, who is equally...disengaged.

Not that you're asking for my advice...I'm just asking. Looking at Smitty Jr's future, and how parents cope with idiot teachers.

wootini said...

I am at a complete loss for words. Unbelievable.

Kid is awesome. And she deserves to learn in an environment that supports her.

What the hell is up with the insane obsession with finishing in time to the apparent exclusion of all else?

Mr Furious said...

In one way the conference went GREAT: It gave us complete confidence that pulling Kid out of the class is the right thing to do. And it needs to be done asap.

1. This teacher is clearly interested in test results and only test results. She doesn't assess or relate to the kids in any other way. We both understand the over-emphasis on testing in public school, and anticipated a degree of this, but with this woman it pathological. I'm not sure she even sees children in the seats, but sees only things to check off a list.

Since Kid wasn't measuring up to her arbitrary interpretation of the test results, there was nothing else for her to report.

She had nothing good to say about Kid at all. It was purely a negative status update and nothing more. And I'm not looking for a "she's behind, but she's fun to have in the classroom!" She didn't have anything to say about Kid as an actual person at all—good OR bad!

There was nothing in her remarks or in her written report about any other aspect of attending school beyond test scores—nothing about social development, nothing about behavior, nothing about Kid's adjustment to a new school.

2. About those test "results." Despite never having taken a test before—never mind tests with time limits—Kid is actually now testing at grade level, but for some reason this woman is dwelling on the results for third grade level.

Last i checked, we're ten weeks into second grade.

But the real problem is test performance, particularly under pressure of time. Using math as an example: Kid's first (ever!) math test she answered 6 out of 20 problems in sixty seconds. A month later she answered 14. The teacher acknowledged the improvement, but this was still "a problem."

I pointed out that Kid got every single answer correct in each test. She solved every math problem she had time to do without a mistake.

It was as if the teacher hadn't even realized that fact.

Clearly Kid knows how to do all of the math, she's just never had to perform in a timed test environment. To me, taking the time to correctly solve each problem demonstrates understanding the material. To the teacher, doing all 20 is paramount. She would surely have been happier with 20 answers and only 14 correct, than 14 out 14 right.

Break it down: She wants students to answer math questions in three seconds, which is basically recitation of memorized answers. Kid takes 4-5 seconds to solve the same problem on the spot.

3. And therein lies the problem. Kid is a perfectionist. She wants to be right. Every time. She is the textbook example of a person who will not answer if there is a chance they are wrong. Even if Kid were to memorize the material or get better at testing, she is not going to be compatible with this teacher, or, in all likelihood a different teacher pushing the same curriculum.

It comes down to learning style and pace, and the impact on Kid. We're more comfortable with Kid being in a position to build on success and feel pride in her accomplishments, not inadequate for not finishing, or constantly behind. That's absolutely not going to happen in this maniac's class, and probably not in any other class at the school. And we have no interest in uprooting her an making her start over socially in another class that offers little chance for improvement—not when we have such high confidence in her success in a school like she attended last year or home schooling.

That's the plan.

Deb said...

I am aghast, and while I know it doesn't matter, I think you're doing the right thing. The early years of school are critical to building confidence. They're less about skill than about making a child feel like they can be a good student, that they like learning, and that they are competent. The idea that one lone teacher might take that away from my child would be enough to convince me a major move would be necessary.

I'm appalled that she would mock Kid's facial expression. That's so juvenile and disrespectful. I can't imagine the kinds of things she must say to the children in her class if she's willing to do something like that in front of the parents. Heck, if my kid did something like that, I'd put him in time out. An adult? That disgusts me.

I'm so sorry. I wish it was a very different situation.

Kiki said...

Kid IS a GREAT KID.....she's bright and funny, she is intuitive and sensitive and if her teacher doesn't see what a gift it is to have a kid like Kid in her class then she really is in the wrong profession.

I hate to hear stories like this, hate hearing how people try to steal the joy out of what could be a magic experience; being a teacher is a gift-she is so lucky to touch their lives in such a potentially powerfully way and she IS MISSING IT!!!

I'm glad you are still taking her out, I'm excited to hear about how it all goes down and I'm excited for Kid to really know how amazing it can be to be in a loving, safe environment were an actual love of learning is encouraged and nurtured!!!

Nutmeg said...

This is making me nervous for E's future in school... and he's only four! He sounds a lot like Kid.

The whole situation is miserable, and I'm sorry that you all ended up getting screwed so royally (especially Kid.)

I guess it's good to have gotten such a clear picture of the teacher, rather than her pretending that she's interested or capable of doing things differently or treating children like people.

steves said...

Can you ask for another teacher in the same school?

I assume you've told the principal, who is equally...disengaged.


I wondered the same thing. Are the other second grade teachers as bad?

Mrs Furious said...

The thing that just seals the deal is that she didn't have one positive thing to report. Even the school conference checklist is only a list of "areas of concern" which you either have checked or unchecked. Every other school we've been in would have strengths and weaknesses not just weaknesses. But for her to have not one personal anecdote or nicety. I know I have been talking a lot about how difficult Kid can be (for me) but the thing is she is a perfectly behaved student. All of her past teachers have LOVED her and all reported what a blessing she is to have in class and what a kind and positive example she is for others. EVERY ONE OF THEM. Her teacher last year (that I did not personally love you may recall) said at the end of the year that she wasn't worried about Kid transitioning because she had the kind of personality to appeals to teachers. And then... boom... we get the anti-Christ. It never occurred to me to even worry about Kid not being liked by her teacher. And this teacher doesn't value Kid's strengths (she might not value anyone's... just want to time them). Last year she was praised for her beautiful handwriting. This year, that is obviously not the case, and because of that she now chicken scratches out her writing... doesn't take the time to write as beautifully as she naturally can... because... no one cares. Now we have a situation where Kid is living down to this woman's expectations.
And I also find it noteworthy that every characteristic that this woman checked off as a deficit is EXACTLY the way a gifted child would be responding to a boring classroom environment: staring off in space, not completing work, not self motivated, under performing on tests... (while not weeks later found to be performing at 3 grade levels up from test level... hello)...is classic (not that Kid is necessarily gifted... I'm just saying... the thought that her school performance might be caused by anything other than Kid being stupid just hasn't occurred to this woman). There is no assessment of the whole child.

Julie said...

OMG...this is totally unacceptable. I am so furious for you.

In one way the conference went GREAT: It gave us complete confidence that pulling Kid out of the class is the right thing to do. Totally agree on that.

I am just in awe at how clueless this teacher is.

Mrs Furious said...

Steves & Smitty,
The other teachers: Well, there are 5 of them, Kid has one for her primary class, one for reading, and another for math... they all switch around for their "group level". She doesn't love any of them... and her own report is that "maybe it would have been better" in another class, emphasis on "maybe". The curriculum is the curriculum across the board and it blows. The principal is new to the school this year, he seems like a nice, motivated guy. We actually haven't talked with him as we have been hemming and hawing about what desired out come we wanted. They have a multi-step conflict resolution plan... which frankly, I don't want to take. I tried to just deal with her directly, so I'd know if she was motivated to teach and work with us, or motivated to toe the line at all costs (the latter). At this point I'm SURE that conflict resolution talks with this woman are not going to result in anything positive for Kid, and most likely will put us on the teacher's shit list. We've been waiting for this conference to finally get some kind of input about how she's doing from the teacher's point of view. I had some small hope, that despite not totally digging her style, she might surprise us with some kind of insight into Kid, or some kind of appropriate assessment. Then we'd know what we wanted... to remove her... to move her... to shut up and just hope for the best. And unfortunately the conference only reinforced all of our worst fears about this entire district. We just don't think Kid will thrive, in fact we're reasonably sure she'll suffer in every area if we keep her in this type of learning environment. If we were interested in her staying in this school, we'd have to have a sit down with the principal and get her moved... but... we both know now that this school is not going to meet her needs. Even with an awesome, loving teacher... the actual curriculum is not anywhere close to acceptable to us. That's not changing. This teacher is tenured. I don't know... I don't know what we can even accomplish. This school district prides itself on... well... itself. I think we are in the minority in terms of what we view as a good education (ie learning something other than how to take a test), and I think we are at a fundamental impasse. Of course when we submit our letter next week, we will outline the reasons why.

steves said...

Thanks for the clarification. First of all, I am not tryign to second guess you or tell you what to do. Obviously, you know what is best for your children.

That teacher sounds terrible. Every conference that I have been to is a combination of concerns and strengths. I am also not a big fan of the 'team teaching' approach at that level. I think kids are better off with mostly dealing with one person. As for tests, it sounds like a lot. My daughter is in 3rd grade and I don't remember all that many tests. She is a perfectionist and it was difficult getting her to find a balanace between speed and accuracy. That being said, there still wasn't all that many tests.

The situation really sounds intolerable. Good luck with whatever you decide.

Gigs said...

God, this sounds like the teacher we had last year. The one where I yelled at her, "You could get a lot better results from him if you just tried a little kindness!" and then burst into angry tears. I'm beyond words for you. And so sorry you (all) are going through this. I know it is heart wrenching.

Torey said...

I'm so sorry it went so poorly. Poor Kid, and poor parents. This whole situation is atrocious! I cannot believe how heartless this teacher sounds, and how it must make poor Kid feel to sit in that classroom for what, 6 hours a day? Knowing that she basically cannot do a single right in the eyes of that teacher? How awful. I have anxiety just thinking about it.


You are wonderful, involved parents who are making every effort to make sure your child succeeds. That's awesome. You guys rock!

P/F said...

We had a fun second grade conference too. My kid's 2nd grade teacher didn't talk about our kids perfect test scores and school work. She was nice enough to take the time to tell us that our kid was weird and that if he didn't act more normal, he'd be bullied when he got older. She also didn't like that he finished his work quickly because it made the other kids feel bad. Also, could he learn to sit quietly looking into space when he was finished with his work because it was annoying to her that he looked bored. We were dumbfounded. If you can believe it, we kept Evan in that bitch's class for the whole year. The next year we switched to another district, and in his new classroom was a boy from the same second grade classroom Evan had just survived.

Glad you're getting her out. The sooner the better. From our experience - the teacher gets worse and meaner as the year goes on.

Andrea said...

Im so sorry this sucks, my stomach is all in knots just reading about this. Im feeling all anxious for ya'll.I wish things were different for kid and she had a teacher who cared about these little people she is blessed to be with and not some number.

P/F said...

...The story of our experience with her is so long and painful. It totally broke me of my belief that teachers generally have the best interest of the student in mind, and that she wouldn't be there at her age (mid 40s) if she was that bad. Also, I realized it wasn't a personality conflict because evil isn't a personality I recognize.

moley said...

OMG What a foul woman. She really should not be teaching!

No wonder you are furious! What decent parent wouldn't be and why the hell aren't the other parents up in arms? Kid can't be the only one she is treating like this surely and even those parents who believe in testing must want their kids to be treated respectfully as individuals.

I suppose as you say it makes the decision to withdraw her easier and if it is any consolation Hetty was reluctant to leave school as she said she would miss her friends but after about 6 weeks I asked if she wanted to get together with her old friends. No she said 'I've realised I had nothing in common with them' (She was 7!)

I am quite confident that Kid will be fine because she has got parents who will go to bat for her. Any other problems can be overcome if your family supports you :-)

Good luck and hope things improve soon (((hugs)))

Mathis Family said...

We had some of the same experiences, but on a smaller scale, during preschool with our son.
Basically, he was bored and acting, well, like a boy. The teachers, instead of trying to find something for him to do, told us that we needed to have him tested for a litany of issues. All of these issues they had concocted and applied to him in their minds.
We had tests done and it all came back that he was developmentally fine, but totally bored and well ahead of the curve for his age group.
I guess what we took away from all this is to trust our gut instinct and do what we feel is best, not allowing the social norms, friends, teachers, etc influence what we thought was best for our kiddos.
So, we homeschool. It's hard some days and other days the most fun we've ever had, but it's, hands down, the best decision and choice for our family.

Julie said...

I haven't had time to comment much on this, but I have to say I can relate to so much of what has been written. I am grateful for this outlet so we don't feel so alone when we are going through challenging situations.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of Mrs F's peeps!!

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