Not sure if this response is good or bad. Help!

Posted by: sydness

Not sure if this response is good or bad. Help! - 02/09/12 10:20 AM

Dear VP,

I feel that dd9's math homework has been increasingly below her challenge level.  Tonight she was given a time consuming page where she was asked to shade in the shapes that were equal to one half. Her sister, who is six, enjoyed the challenge.

The other page asked her to add, subtract, multiply and such. She has never had to practice her multiplication facts at home and is still getting all of them right on her timed tests. Asking her to do homework that she has mastered a long time ago is becoming frustrating for her. Along with other tasks that lack meaning for her , it is too much to cope with.

She spent the evening sobbing because she feels that if she chooses to take risks and challenge herself there will be nobody there to support her. She feels this way because out of the four social studies projects, she chose to create a PowerPoint presentation, but was told she would receive no help whatsoever. Feeling uncomfortable she was would be receiving no support while doing the project on the Mac, she chose the diorama instead, even though she is an avid PC user. Then she was told she was not to use the classroom's tape for her diorama, among other things that made the project impossible  The children who chose to do the poster received poster paper and the teacher traced the map of the country onto the poster board for the student. But when Dd asked for ideas on how to incorporate a map into her box, she was told "it's up to you". When I talked to the teacher, she said that Dd was welcome to change her project.

I believe Dd is feeling alone at school, lacking challenging, meaningful work, lacking opportunities to make friendships with others who have similar interests, and is in need of some adult support.  I believe that Math teacher may be able to take Dd further in Math and give her appropriate homework. I am hopeful that Dd can feel like her teachers want her to succeed and will support her when she tries to reach her potential.  I would like to discuss this with you as soon as possible. I know we have discussed some things already in December, such as Dd meeting with the librarian every other week and receiving guidance regarding friendships from Mrs. Psyc or another counselor. As far as I know this hasn't happened. After our last meeting I was hopeful that the math enrichment would become more meaningful but Dd thinks it is still very easy for her.  I have already expressed my feelings to the teachers, so I feel I need to discuss it with you or Mr. Principal. 

I will call the school to make an appointment.
Thank you.

Sincerely,
Mom

And her response.
 
I have forwarded your concerns to the teachers.  Please follow up with them tomorrow.  If you feel as though you need to address them further, please inform them that you will be requesting a meeting with Mr. Principal and me.
Posted by: st pauli girl

Re: Not sure if this response is good or bad. Help! - 02/09/12 11:08 AM

It looks like Mr. VP thinks this is an issue for the teachers to resolve first. I would guess, from what you've said, that you have likely already had this conversation with the teachers, but maybe Mr. VP didn't realize this. I guess if the teachers do actually respond in follow-up to Mr. VPs forwarding this to them, then maybe it's good? I wouldn't be especially happy with that sort of response, because he's passing the buck again.

If you'd like my opinion about what I would do in your situation, I would forward the message with VP's reply (just to be sure that the teachers received all the message) to the teachers involved, and request a meeting to discuss the issues with the teachers. Copy the VP. (And if this has been an ongoing issue that has not been resolved with the teachers, request that the VP and the P be included in the meeting.)
Posted by: sydness

Re: Not sure if this response is good or bad. Help - 02/09/12 11:29 AM

Interesting. I was not sure if the vp was coming from a place that is supprtive or not. I'm not sure she, the vp fowarded my email to the teachers. I talk about her not following through on plans made in December. I have a feeling that she left messages or spoke with them. This has been a very ongoing problem and dh and I had a very long conference back in dec to talk about these things after getting frustrated with dd making games in math. So, maybe vp is sick if me? Or maybe she is supporting me and wants the teachers to own up to their end?I don't know. Thanks though.
Interesting that she wants me to wait until tomorrow to speek with them. I wonder if they are going to have a meeting today to discuss it. Hmmm.
Posted by: aculady

Re: Not sure if this response is good or bad. Help! - 02/09/12 11:46 AM

I would choose to view this as a supportive e-mail.

If I were the VP of a school and sent an email like this to a parent who had sent me an e-mail like yours, this response would mean "I've told the teachers they need to knock this nonsense off and get on board actually teaching your child, so I don't expect you will have any trouble getting them to agree to the needed changes...but if they don't, I have your back: Principal and I will help you help them see the light, and you can tell them that."
Posted by: sydness

Re: Not sure if this response is good or bad. Help! - 02/09/12 11:56 AM

Aculady. I tend toward this way too. She agreed with us a lot about meeting dd educational needs when we spoke. I just want to know I have her support before going AGAIN to the teachers and making them crazy. The LA teacher called my dd by the wrong name on the phone with me yesterday and told me that there is no computer in her classroom to do the pp presentation on so she would have to work in another classroom and not ask any questions. Dd told me last night that there is a perfectly good unused computer in the classroom. O think the teacher is embarassed that she doesn't know how to help the kids with it and maybe can't admit it or she may be reprimanded for it. She is older. Ugh. My dd was identified as gifted along with six other forth graders a few months ago. I received no mention of this from either teacher and there has been no word as to how they intend to extend the curriculum for her. I might just have to ask why they haven't adressed the fact that she was deemed a person with superior learning ability by the school. It's like they were nevr even notified and I know that they were.
Posted by: ColinsMum

Re: Not sure if this response is good or bad. Help! - 02/09/12 11:57 AM

I agree with Aculady, but I would be very careful not to betray that interpretation in talking to the teachers - IOW, I'd stick to the letter of what the VP said to do as a next step if you had any trouble, without suggesting to the teachers that I had any idea of what would happen next.
Posted by: aculady

Re: Not sure if this response is good or bad. Help! - 02/09/12 12:09 PM

Originally Posted By: ColinsMum
I agree with Aculady, but I would be very careful not to betray that interpretation in talking to the teachers - IOW, I'd stick to the letter of what the VP said to do as a next step if you had any trouble, without suggesting to the teachers that I had any idea of what would happen next.


I agree that I would not go in saying that I had the support of the principal and VP, I'd just meet with the teachers, and only if I didn't get anywhere, would I tell them that my next step would be scheduling a meeting with the administration. I realized my previous post could be read differently.
Posted by: st pauli girl

Re: Not sure if this response is good or bad. Help! - 02/09/12 12:12 PM

I guess i'm just jaded! If the VP has sounded helpful, then the message was probably a good thing, and the waiting until tomorrow could have been to give him time to talk with the teachers. It's really hard to tell what's going on sometimes from electronic communications!
Posted by: sydness

Re: Not sure if this response is good or bad. Help! - 02/09/12 12:16 PM

So, what should I do to "follow up with the teachers tomorrow" as told to do. And should I really tell them I am going to meet with p and vp if the response isn't satisfactory? I imagine something like the techer syaing "I don't know y your dd feels lonely. All the girls just love her and she is doing fine". The math teacher may show me something she did wrong and claim that she is unable to do harder work. So what do I say to teachers tomorrow?
Posted by: ColinsMum

Re: Not sure if this response is good or bad. Help! - 02/09/12 12:35 PM

Others with more experience doing tricky advocating may have better ideas, but I think I'd go basically, "I need to talk to you because my DD is unhappy. She doesn't feel able to do challenging work at school. For example...". Let them talk. If you aren't satisfied, end with, "Well, thank you for explaining and I hear what you say, but my DD is unhappy and we really need to address this. VP said I should request a meeting him with and P if necessary, so I'll do that next; hopefully they can help find some solution."
Posted by: sydness

Re: Not sure if this response is good or bad. Help! - 02/09/12 01:22 PM

She had subs in both classes today and said she will have both subs again tomorrow.
Posted by: sydness

Re: Not sure if this response is good or bad. Help! - 02/09/12 02:33 PM

Hmmm. Thank you for all that. This is not even close to the first exchange with the vp or the teachers. I have asked for a math skip to fifth grade and was told that it doesn't ever happen and won't. I had a meeting with both her teachers a month into school to tell them how dd was frustrated and needed more challenging work. I was told that my dd was properly placed and that all kids were expected to do the same homework because they correct in class together and it would be socially akward for some students to have other homework.
At pt conferences I let the math teacher know that it was great that dd was able to test out of units, and making games instead of repeting work she already mastered was a great thing but that I would rather see her moving ahead. This request was not met which led to the dec meetin in which the vp agreed to talk to the enrichment teacher about giving the classroom teacher some things to do for moving foward in math and not just keeping busy. She is still stuck in forth grade math, doing the same homework every day as the rest of the class and almost the same classwork as well. Not very much differentiation at all and when there is a twist to the lesson for her, it really isn't far enough.

So I feel like I have discussed all I can discuss with this teacher who claims that it is against her policy to move kids beyond the forth grade curriculum. She is a very smart, organized and energetic teacher and I do believe she would do an excelwnt job of teaching harder material to some kids and not others.

The reading teacher is another story. I don't believe she knows anything about my dd. She has even callled her by the wrong name. She told me at conferences that dd was doing "fine" and she was glad she was in chess club because you have to plan ahead in chess and it's good for dd to do "hard" things. She also said that loves playing chess herself and is so happy to have dd in the class for when she forgets how a piece moves. I don't have a clue how to talk to this woman. My dd has her own blog, started teaching herself HTML, knows Photoshop better than most adults. When she had just turned two, she tried to play a video on the backyardigans site from an alternate browser. When it didn't play she exclaimed "this browser doesn't play these movies". We never told her about browsers. So, when LA teacher discourges her from making a PowerPoint presentation even though it was on of the prions given to all the children, obviously she knows nothing about her. She think dd will ask too many questions that she won't know how to answer. I honestly haven't really tried to get anywhere with this teacher. I don't understand her at all and when we talk it is like we are talking about a random kid, not mine. I asked her what dd should read since she is required to read at a lexile 1210 and the teacher just said that dd has already read soooo many books and gave no suggestions. She just said that most books at that level are inappropriate for her and left it at that.

So as u can see, I have no clue how to talk to her or even what to ask for. I just want her to care about my dd and her learning and her feelings. But you can't make someone care!
Posted by: sydness

Re: Not sure if this response is good or bad. Help! - 02/09/12 02:46 PM

I feel like I need to add that dd is a tall, pretty, pleasent, quiet, respectful and fun girl who raises her hand in class and does what she is told 100 percent of the time. She is well liked and easy to like. She is also easy to ignore as she never ever asks to have exceptions made fir her and will bend over backwards to not be a problem for someone. Ugh. I don't know why I had to add that. I just want o make sure I say what kind of person she is, not just that she is smart.
Posted by: sydness

Re: Not sure if this response is good or bad. Help! - 02/09/12 03:17 PM

So I Guess your suggestion to tell the vp that the teachers an I have tries tobwork together is only true for one of the teachers. I guess maybe I should try harder with the English teacher but it really is like we are speaking two languages. Hmmm.

My thumbs are very bad at typing.
Posted by: st pauli girl

Re: Not sure if this response is good or bad. Help! - 02/09/12 04:00 PM

Are you available to volunteer in the English classroom? Maybe you could offer to help to anyone who chose a computer-based project, like your DD? Are there any other things you can think of to help out in that class? Maybe the teacher is overwhelmed? Just brainstorming here...
Posted by: sydness

Re: Not sure if this response is good or bad. Help! - 02/09/12 06:27 PM

Makes a lot more sense thank you for being specific. I am a bit thick headed. I have tried this type of thing. The reason fir my dd to stay in ther class she was in was that she was getting some questions wrong once I. A while. This was before she was identified. I told her that i knew that dd has mastered those math concepts and believed that she was making mistakes because she wasn't reading the directions because she was used to being under challenged. She also informed me that she needed to make sure that her students do well on the ct state test. I told her I wasn't happy about all the concern about the test. She said that even though I didn't like it, it was the case. So I let it go. Later in the conversation I felt i had to remind her that my dd was in fact advanced and that she got only one wrong in the whole math section of the state test. She accused me of only using the test results to serve my purpose but ignoring the test when it serves her purpose. So, I dropped it.

The meeting was with the math and LA teacher - who let everyone know that even though dd was very smart she needed to learn to not skip steps for later in life when she takes higher level math like - like - ummmm. She couldn't name a level of higher math. Math teacher chimed in. ALGEBRA! Dd does not skip steps. The problem is that she doesn't even use steps. She somehow visualizes what happens somehow. Because she understand the concept so well she completely ignores the shortcut processes and figures them out inherent head. So, sometimes she makes a mistake. But it is not because she doesn't understand the concept. It is because the numbers given were not ment to do in your head and she did it that way anyway. It's actually amazing she gets most of them right! Anyway. I told her to stop making mistakes and she did. For over two months, she fit a perfect score on everything she toutched. All hundreds!

Anyway. I got way off track. I'm trying to illustrate that it doent seem like one of her teachers really thinks about anything before she says it! So, for the meeting with the vp, with advice I got on this forum, I brought dh. I told him his job was to ask WHY! I have such a hard time asking why. I can't figure it out. I just am scared to make them look bad I guess and I know there is no good reason and I don't like to embarass people.

So, I do agree with going as far as you can go with the teachers. I did go as far as I could with the math teacher. I did not cc her on the emails to the vp. Maybe I should have. I did go over her head but I was asking for fifth grade placement and her teacher had nothing to do with that.

I think I understand what you mean by including the teacher in the planning with principal. That way specific road blocks are addressed and reasons are documented and vp has something to work with and start from. Yes. I feel like all I do is complain and nothing happens. I think it is because I have no ideas. I just want them to do there job. I want them to appreciate her and help her thrive. There are so many stupid things to ask about. This SS project being the latest. I can't possibly keep up with all the stupid things that happen on a day to day basis. Today - she came home sooo thirst because at lunch it is a huge pain and waste if precious eating time to raise you hand to get a drink. Then she got hit in the head with a football. Noone cared. I know, not the teachers' fault. But sometimes all these small thing get ridiculous!

So I am supposed to email or contact the teachers tomorrow with my issues. Dd says Both teachers will be out tomorrow. I guess it is obvious that I want her to be working out of the fifth grade math book for the rest of the year and I want her to have fifth grade homework.

I do t know what to ask the LA teacher. Just to think and allow my kid some room to learn. So sorry about the rant and thank u so much fo the advice. My thumbs are very tired!
Posted by: aculady

Re: Not sure if this response is good or bad. Help! - 02/09/12 11:15 PM

You clearly have a different conception of what "doing their Job" looks like than they do, so it would probably be very helpful to them and to you to communicate specific things that you want to see happen, so that there is agreement on what the plan is and how you will be able to assess whether it is being carried out and whether it is working.


  • You want your DD subject-accelerated to fifth grade math for class work and homework. She needs to learn that she can't skip steps and use nothing but mental math in order to succeed in higher-level mathematics, so she needs to be regularly encountering problems that are sufficiently complex that she can't just look at them and know the answer so she can really develop this insight and habit. She is already scoring in the proficient range on the state standards, so there should not be an issue with advancing her instructional level, even if she does not get an official grade skip.

    You will know that this is taking place because:
    You will see the graded 5th grade homework, tests, and assignments.
  • You want your DD to have access to an equitable level of classroom support, resources, and instruction. It is not fair to your dd to expect her to answer her own questions, be her own tech support, and supply her own materials for projects where other students have access to assistance with these types of things. She may be working at a different level than the other students, but that doesn't mean that she doesn't still need a teacher to teach her. (If it is really problematic for the teacher to have to provide her with adequate instruction in this class, then perhaps a grade skip is in order so that the teacher's time can be spent more efficiently and the classroom is not disrupted.)

    You will know that this is happening because:
    You will see ______________ (Projects completed at school,dd reporting about questions she had that were answered, etc. - whatever you would take as evidence that this objective was being met.)
  • You want your dd to have access to reading and discussion with intellectual peers at her challenge level, as assessed by _____________ (with age-appropriate testing modifications.)

    You will know that this is happening because:
    You will see her bringing home appropriately-leveled books and assignments, the teacher will communicate with you every ________ time period to update you on what dd is reading and what her progress is.
  • Whatever else you think is really lacking and impacting your dd's capacity to benefit from this classroom setting. (Food and water on a regular basis? Physical safety? Access to intellectual peers?)


Posted by: sydness

Re: Not sure if this response is good or bad. Help! - 02/10/12 01:33 AM

Wow! You are wonderful! Bullet lists are a language I understand. I surprised you have been able to understand my embarassing thumb typing. Thank you for struggling through it.