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    #235903 - 01/13/17 08:02 AM class/teacher switch within school - advice?
    Pinecroft Offline

    Registered: 05/19/11
    Posts: 99
    Hi - Any advice on how to manage kid questions about classroom changes? I don't mean the questions your own kid asks, I mean the questions their peers ask at school. I wonder if any of you have had similar experiences to our situation and can offer help; likewise those of you with sensitive kids who've done grade skips mid-year might be able to offer advice too....

    DD10 is having a very tough year so far. She has come out of school crying/sad/mad/complaining too many times to count this year. Very long story short, she has a less than good teacher who is brand new to teaching (AND had a newborn and a 3 yo when school started... so needless to say exhausted and overwhelmed teacher!), whose style is *not* a good fit for DD, and who isn't doing well with challenging DD. DD was finally starting to get the enriched math she needs (along with a few others at her grade level... so not even just for her!), but that - according to DD - the teacher has stopped (could just be because of mid-year assessments, which I hope is the case). Add to that she's having some real mean-girl issues in her class. The principal said 'bullying' when we discussed -- I'm not so sure I'd go *that* far (its become such a loaded term... beyond what I think is going on here... low level bullying, if you will, but it is persistent and pervasive), but its clearly taking a toll.

    Between the social and academic issues, we're considering switching classrooms. NOT a grade skip, a lateral move to a different classroom (our school has 3 classrooms at each grade). If it were *just* a poor teacher fit or *just* a kid problem I'd likely try to work on it (you encounter people who are hard to deal with in all walks of life, right?) but I think its just that little bit too much such that she won't be able to actually work on it bc she's spending all her time and energy just barely coping. Make sense?

    Here's the issue: classroom changes after school starts are very rare at our school. And as the principal pointed out, kids are going to ask DD why she switched classes. A lot. And they aren't going to take her shoulder shrug as an answer. DD will not handle these questions well without some help... I truly believe she'll have a better remainder of the year once we get past that initial awkward transition time (she does have lovely, caring friends in both of the other classes), but ... I *really* worry about that transition time.

    Add to this that it is coming off of an 'incident' in the classroom. DD ended up saying something unkind to the other girl, who promptly told on her. So what we (the principal and I) are also concerned about is that this will look like DD is being moved bc she was bad. Oh, and the principal admitted that in bullying situations they usually move the bully, so there is potential for that to add to DD looking like the bad apple.

    I wonder if anyone else here has moved a kid due to bullying or other issues, and how you helped your kiddo cope with questions. If you don't have that experience, but have the experience of a kid who doesn't like to toot his/her own horn, or is shy and emotionally intense, who was grade skipped, how did your DC handle the questions that others had about the class change?

    Any advice or experience would be super helpful!

    #235905 - 01/13/17 08:46 AM Re: class/teacher switch within school - advice? [Re: Pinecroft]
    Pemberley Offline

    Registered: 08/07/11
    Posts: 739
    We did a mid year lateral change during DD's absolutely awful kindergarten year. DD was obviously younger than your DD so not sure my input will be much help. We didn't sugar coat it. DD told people her mom wanted her away from the first teacher. I told people it was either a classroom change or I pull DD out of the school. Period. Not much discussion after that - people who knew what was going on didn't need to ask. There were friends from the first class who kept asking her to come back. The "transition" time was practically nil. She changed classes mid morning and by the next day had a seat assignment, cubby, etc. Within a few days it was as if she had always been part of that classroom. But again it was K so much younger.

    Please don't downplay the bullying. In the first classroom DD had to have another kid pull a boy off of her. Teacher downplayed it because classroom para's job likely would have been in jeopardy. Administration got involved, photos of the injuries, formal bullying process implemented, etc. In second classroom it was more subdued. DD was "the positive role model peer" so was always seated with the trouble makers. She was *constantly* elbowed, kicked, pinched, etc. This teacher's position was "If I didn't see it it didn't happen." Despite pointing out the fingerprint bruises in the exact spot DD reported having been pinched repeatedly. Even when I witnessed an event the teacher refused to respond "But then I would have to write up an incident report..." Umm... Yeah... You do.... Let's just summarize by saying DD came out of kindergarten just shy of a formal PTSD diagnosis and in therapy for 3 years dealing with the PTS reaction. We changed schools for first grade and shockingly DD was no longer covered in head to toe bruises. If the principal is using the word bullying please believe her. There is likely more going on behind the scenes than you are aware of...

    Good luck!

    #235906 - 01/13/17 08:51 AM Re: class/teacher switch within school - advice? [Re: Pinecroft]
    chay Offline

    Registered: 08/07/13
    Posts: 448
    Loc: Canada
    A bit different but my kids deal with questions all of the time as to why they changed schools. They now go half way across the city to attend a congregated gifted program in a different school board than where they started out.

    All of the neighbourhood kids still attend the neighbourhood school, all of the kids they play sports with and do activities with are all still at their old school or in a small number of schools close by. DS moved a year before DD so we also had a year where we were at the school for events after he had left which meant a lot of encounters with former classmates & their parents.

    I think my advice would be to keep it simple and short. The more details my kids seemed to provide the more the other kids seemed to want to keep talking about it (and in some cases use the details to tease, etc). After much experimentation my DS10's go to answer is usually now "it's a long story" and then he changes the subject. There was one kid he's played hockey that was very fixated on it and teased him a lot last year and tried to turn the whole team against him. Any tiny detail DS provided was then used to tease him and used in rumours and taunts. Once DS switched to repeating the same basic statement and acting like it was no big deal the kid seemed to run out of ammo and moved on (the coaches also talked to him several times about picking on kids, etc which I'm sure also helped).

    Of course we might have had the advantage of mostly dealing with 8 year old girls and/or 10 year old boys. Not sure how tenacious 10 year old girls would be in wanting to get to the bottom of things.

    Since the underlying reason isn't something you necessarily want made public (and the school probably doesn't want to open the door to every parent wanting to move their kid either) I think I would just stick with something basic like "principal x decided to move me" or something along those lines. We also had long talks with our kids about why we might not want to go into huge detail and that it isn't because it is something to be ashamed of, or that they did anything wrong it is just easier to deal with potential mean people that way sometimes.

    Not sure if that is at all helpful but good luck! Hope the change works out.

    #235909 - 01/13/17 10:47 AM Re: class/teacher switch within school - advice? [Re: Pinecroft]
    ElizabethN Offline

    Registered: 02/17/12
    Posts: 1390
    Loc: Seattle area
    This is a great opportunity for your DD to learn to use the broken-record technique for setting a boundary around questions. "Principal x thought Ms. y's room was a better place for me," or something else similarly non-committal (and attributing the decision to those inscrutable adults in charge, not to herself), repeated to each and every question until they stop. The trick is that you don't vary the words or tone at all, so it becomes super boring to keep asking about it. It can be hard to pull off sometimes, but it's very effective.

    #235911 - 01/13/17 10:53 AM Re: class/teacher switch within school - advice? [Re: Pinecroft]
    howdy Offline

    Registered: 10/04/13
    Posts: 279
    We coached DC to use something similar to what ElizabethN suggests. Blame it on the adults, the other kids will likely accept it.

    #235912 - 01/13/17 10:57 AM Re: class/teacher switch within school - advice? [Re: Pinecroft]
    indigo Offline

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 4922
    Girl bullying is often called "relational aggression". Much information can be found online, including The Ophelia Project. The book "Queen Bees and Wannabes" (3rd edition, July 2016) may also be of interest.

    If you are concerned that your daughter changing classrooms may be interpreted by some that she has been a bully, these are my tips:
    1) She needs to ensure that what she says and what she does do not resemble bullying. For example, when disagreeing, she must focus on the issue and sources which inform different positions or viewpoints, and must NOT make personal statements about any individual (ad hominem attacks).
    2) She (and her parents) must simply dismiss any inquiries about the classroom change as "being a better fit." (Similar to ElizabethN's post above, which gives great advice, IMO.)
    3) If others make conjecture, rumors, or negative statements, both daughter and parents must take the high road by simply stating that it appears some others others may be making conjecture and you will not engage in that.
    4) No gossip, no bashing others to prove your daughter or yourself "right".
    5) Let it go.
    6) Move forward.

    #235913 - 01/13/17 11:19 AM Re: class/teacher switch within school - advice? [Re: Pinecroft]
    mountainmom2011 Offline

    Registered: 01/05/12
    Posts: 404
    We did a classroom change for my oldest when she was in 5th grade at this exact same point in the school year (mid-January). Her school only had two classes per grade so a small, tight-knit school where most of the kids have been in school together since kindergarten.

    The situation with my daughter is that her teacher was verbally abusive, especially to the kids with LDs. The teacher was bad from day one and I also told my dd that she will not always like those she has to work with (school, and later a job). Eventually it got to the point where I was noticing red flags and this teacher apparently had been an issue for many years. When one mother tried to tell the school they didn't believe her that some of things were happening, which really irritated me, and I felt at this point his behavior was affecting my dds ability to learn. So I pretty much went in there as mama bear and flat out told them what I thought, I didn't even have to get to the point of requesting my dd be moved. The principal immediately moved my dd and the other girl of the mom who complained. Kids were interviewed, even from previous years, and they pretty much corroborated dds version of things that were happening.

    When they moved my dd and the girl to the other classroom the teacher just told the class that the girls didn't really want to talk about the change so please don't ask. Nobody asked, in fact her classmates/friends told my dd they figured it was because of the teacher. The transition went smoothly and dd ended up having a wonderful rest of the year. Thankfully that teacher didn't return the next school year.

    So my opinion is if you feel it is impacting learning or emotional well being I would consider moving her. I would also talk to your dd about the option of moving and see how she feels about it and do mention how others might be curious and ask her questions. It is important to learn to work with others, but it is also important to learn to advocate and stand up for yourself. I believe it is especially important for girls to grow up learning that it's ok to remedy a situation you don't like, you don't have to take it. If the teacher didn't seem so overwhelmed by everything and was capable of handling the situation then I would say try to stick it out but it doesn't seem that she will be much help.

    Edited by mountainmom2011 (01/13/17 11:23 AM)

    #235914 - 01/13/17 01:00 PM Re: class/teacher switch within school - advice? [Re: Pinecroft]
    puffin Offline

    Registered: 12/11/12
    Posts: 2035
    Ds had a kid move and they were just told that the principal decided they had put him in the wrong class and he should have been in the other class to start with. They were only 6/7 year olds. I moved both kids to a new school last yeae and I say "school A suits most kids but my kids are better suited to school B'. If that is not enough I talk about it being a small school with a more consistent structure.

    #235919 - 01/13/17 11:05 PM Re: class/teacher switch within school - advice? [Re: Pinecroft]
    ashley Offline

    Registered: 03/26/12
    Posts: 639
    My son moved at this same point in the school year at age 7. There was bullying and jealousy and competitiveness towards my son (kids disrupting him on purpose during weekly subject tests so that he would score less etc). He was also the "positive role model" as pemberley put it, and had to sit with a group of disruptors and he had a hard time with their deliberate disruptions and them breaking rules which seemed illogical to him. When the bullying became too much, he was moved to another class room (they had 4 classes for his grade). All the kids, including the bullies wanted to know why he left the classroom. He says that he shrugged and told them that he "did not know why it happened". He just told them that he was instructed to report to the other classroom and he just followed the instructions from the front office. He also says that they stopped asking him after a week. He thrived in the other room and had a great year at school after that change.

    #235968 - 01/19/17 07:40 PM Re: class/teacher switch within school - advice? [Re: Pinecroft]
    Pinecroft Offline

    Registered: 05/19/11
    Posts: 99
    Thank you all, so very much, for you thoughtful and insightful replies. I have read them, and will re-read them now that a decision is made.

    DD has been offered the chance to move to a different class and has decided to do so. I know the teacher well, she has several years experience, and she will be wonderful for DD. DD also has several very kind friends in the class, which will make a big difference for her.

    I definitely felt wonderfully supported through reading all of your experiences and thoughts - from the 'non-answer' response to kid questions (perfect!) to the affirmation to take any bullying seriously - and I cannot tell you how appreciated that support is!


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