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Being accused of harassing Teachers...

(21 Posts)
Bookeatingboy Mon 01-Feb-16 12:33:47

DS ASD & ADHD... His YR3 CT and I have not gelled at all. I've had a couple of threads recently relating to this. I believed she was taking out her frustrations with me on ds.

Things came to a head when I questioned her about an incident that ds had reported to me. She stopped communicating and I called a meeting with the HT.

At the meeting I was accused of harassing her to the point of making her ill, furthermore I have apparently had this effect on all of ds's CT's since he started this school. I am trying to be too involved in his schooling and I am not giving them room to do their job. I could go on, but you've probably got the gist by now. I apologised that my actions had made her feel this way whilst assuring her this was not my intention. My only concern is ds. The meeting ended amicably.

This has knocked me for six... I'm always very professional when I go to meetings and in any dealings with school staff. Admittedly I am a very direct person and will ask questions others probably wouldn't. I will challenge what someone is saying if I disagree. But I am always very respectful when doing this and had never raised my voice and never would (not my style). I would not agree that I am harassing her only interesting in doing the best by ds and working with school to achieve this.

There is nowhere suitable to move him to locally and his DTB is at the school too. He has a small group of friends who he has been with since pre-school. He is happy at the school.

Clearly if my actions are making another feel this way then it's not acceptable... but I'm really at a loss to know how to move forward from this. I just feel that anything I do or say is being marked down as harassment or bullying.

Anyone been in this situation and have any advice on how I might move forward from this.

zzzzz Mon 01-Feb-16 13:22:02

If you genuinely feel she has felt harassed by you (and possibly even if you don't as it gives you a good position to move forward from) I would send her a card apologising and ask her to be very direct if she ever feels that way again. Ask her how she would like you to work with her to fix your relationship and help ds get the best out of year three.

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Mon 01-Feb-16 13:24:09

Does DS have a statement? I have replied to you previously but can't remember.

You could ask the LA to send a representative (such as Learning Support Adviser) to future IEP reviews. I found this very useful but the LA have since abolished the post. IEP meetings are now attended by Autism Outreach. You should be able to get Autism Outreach in even if DS does not have a statement. Provided it is OK to do so, keep a record of occasions that the school have not worked with you but have done something bloody stupid with no discussion or agreement and present evidence at the next meeting. Teachers hate to have their 'failures' calmly discussed but will not claim hurt feelings or that they are being harassed by expert LA staff.

As I was never saying or asking for anything unreasonable, I found that the same words issued by an LA employee were received completely differently. Whereas the teaching staff would just assert 'we can't do that' to me, other LA staff with recognised expertise were 'allowed' to directly ask 'why not?'. It always turned out that there was no reason why they could not do what I was asking but just did not want to do anything that I requested of them.

You also have a witness that you are not being harassing or intimidating - i.e. no reasonable person would interpret your words or actions that way.

Don't communicate with staff outside of this formal environment.

Bookeatingboy Mon 01-Feb-16 14:32:53

I genuinely don't feel I have harassed anyone... however if she feels I have, then my opinion is somewhat irrelevant. I did apologise zzzzz but yes a card would be a great idea.

Those questions "why not" and "what are you doing" are the type that I ask keep ds doesn't have a statement although the school receive additional funds above their notional budget to support him.

I am in the process of applying for an EHCP but feel my card is marked now and this might not be the right thing to do at this time. It could potentially fan the flames.

I was thinking that maybe taking someone with me to future meetings since normally I'm very outnumbered so it's always my word against at least 3 people from school. I certainly don't want to leave myself open to accusations in the future. One other thing to mention is that she has requested that any communication is done face to face rather than in writing... so there would be no record.

I feel quite shackled now and feel like every question I ask might be taken the wrong way so probably have no option but to back off and just let them do what they do and up my support at home.

birdlover1977 Mon 01-Feb-16 15:08:26

Sorry to hear what you are going through Book. I feel parents have every right to ask questions relating to their child's education. Parents of children with SEN are much more likely to need more communication with teachers because of their child's needs.
What is it that you normally question? What is your child having difficulties with? If it is something to do with their academic levels I would probably back of a little (because of the accusations) and just really increase the support at home. However if your child is having problems with other children and is being bullied or is feeling that they can't cope at school (sensory overload, etc) without adjustments being made, then I would still communicate my concerns for my child.

Good Luck and always take a witness with you.

zzzzz Mon 01-Feb-16 16:09:55

I agree it's not really about what you meant but more that she feels harassed. If she wants everything face to face then a card is not a good idea. How does she want to set up meetings/you to air worries?

I think I would send 1 email to the HT thanking her for help "clearing the air" between you and CT and for explaining that CThas been feeling overwhelmed by your present mode of contact as that was never your intent. Say that you do understand that while CT is feeling this way that she has requested you talk face to face to avoid any misunderstanding but could they just clarify how you arrange this/when would be a good time to discuss any issues as, as she knows ds has XXXX difficulties so contact will be necessary for him to get the most out of what remains of his time in Y3.

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Mon 01-Feb-16 18:26:04

The fact that you are applying for ECHP may explain the behaviour.

ime CTs either are, or pretend to be, personally offended if parents act independently as advocate for their children, regardless of whether that child has SN - unless, of course, if you are paying for music or sport or 11+ extras that the school is keen to mention in 'celebration' assembly.

This is a load of emotionally blackmailing adult-can't-cope-with-criticism so blame the child/parent bollocks.

Just remember that last year the CT did not know your child and at the end of the academic year will cease to give a toss - if they ever did.

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Mon 01-Feb-16 18:39:23

zzzzz - SENCO at DS2's school 'feels' that I don't trust her. Feels rather than thinks. I have provided evidence of what I think is the case but she is not required to evidence her 'feelings'.

At a factual level, where I am most comfortable, it is true, I don't trust her, for good reason - she knows fuck all and she lies!

But because she 'feels' it, I am a nasty person and she must be protected from me by an aggressive head.

But, at the same time, my DS's feelings, my feelings, my family's feelings are irrelevant.

In fact, if I am not turning cartwheels, this is evidence that I am in need of a 'parenting course'.

AgnesDiPesto Mon 01-Feb-16 21:23:49

its so difficult to know as teachers can over react and be v defensive
Taking someone with you is a good idea
when DS school refused to teach him and he was really distressed about going to school the HT spent a long time telling me how that made HER feel - and spent zero time considering how her actions were making DS feel.
So i tend to take these comments with a pinch of salt as a way of deflecting criticism
I've learnt the hard way that attack is often used as the first response to criticism
you could suggest they look into using Achievement for All approach with a termly structured conversation - that is being backed by Govt as good practice - and you could say that if you received detailed feedback and opportunity to discuss ds termly for 35/40 mins that would avoid the need for you to raise things at other times

zzzzz Mon 01-Feb-16 22:19:49

Oh Keep how hideous. I'm not saying that the CT is correct (WTF would be the point of intimidating your kids teacher? It's hardly going to make them do a better job) In my rather extensive experience of teachers they as a group feel very criticised and so are often defensive and hard to handle (for want of a better term). I'm extraordinarily lucky in that ds's paediatrician is extremely supportive as is my dh and several other professionals I have to deal with fairly regularly. My feeling is, that it is that which has allowed me to up my game to somewhere near what ds needs (and he is a very high needs). I get a lot of time to think and this is my conclusion. My job is to get the maximum from each person ds works with and this means supporting them to do the best job possible.

At the moment OPs relationship is tense and defensive (on both sides but predominantly on the CTs side). The BEST outcome for her dc will be to mend this relationship and allow the CT to operate at optimum, regardless of what actually happened. There is a proviso to this. Sometimes the relationship cannot be mended so that both parties can work effectively and sometimes a professionals "best" is not appropriate....then I would handle things very differently (and have). Till then inner bitch/tiger back, supporting cheer leader forward.

Bookeatingboy Mon 01-Feb-16 23:10:07

Thanks all. I've spoken to a long time friend tonight who incidentally runs our local ASD group, she had agreed to come along to IEP meetings with me going forward so this will hopefully reduce the risk of accusations.

Thanks Agnes yes yes to what about how ds was feeling. My ds was coming home anxious and wound up... but I'm harassing CT for asking why this is. I'll take a look at the website you've linked to.

I hear you zzzzz and I am very good at the cheer leader role too, and only use the other me when absolutely required. It's just game playing though isn't it. I shouldn't have to stroke her ego just to get her to do her job.

zzzzz Tue 02-Feb-16 00:55:43

The most exhausting thing about having my amazing young man in my life is not dealing with him but with everyone around him. It is soul ravagingly exhausting and stretches from family through professionals to the general public. Constantly facilitating, and supporting not just ds but others to feel they are doing well for ds. When I have other things going on in my life, PMT, a virus, a broken boiler or tetchy sibling, I lose the fine balance and the knock on effect is mind boggling.

How can so many people need so much just to do the role they are supposed to do? On the whole the professionals I respect are those that require less from me and give rather than taking all the time.

I am very lucky that we had 3 years of HE in the middle which while exhausting in other ways did give me a "holiday" from soothing.

You shouldn't have to op. Eyes on the prize. brew

StarlightMcKenzee Tue 02-Feb-16 10:09:22

Inform (in writing) them you are distressed at having caused the teacher to feel harassed and will now communicate predominately in writing so that you can ensure there are no misunderstandings or interpretations that might further upset her.

zzzzz Tue 02-Feb-16 12:11:56

grin.

Bookeatingboy Tue 02-Feb-16 13:18:07

grin Somehow don't think that will go down too well star

I do wonder how some of these teachers would cope in the real world of employment. Do they not get that for the rest of us it's quite normal to be measured and challenged when our work falls below the expected standard. wink

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Tue 02-Feb-16 13:35:06

I read a recent post www.mumsnet.com/Talk/am_i_being_unreasonable/2557504-To-complain-about-this-TA?pg=2

One of the 'helpful' responses was

"*I'm a Learning Assistant and whilst "this is awful" isn't the best terminology to use, it's hardly the end of the world either.

In our school we encourage a growth mindset so usually use language like "you can do much better than this" and "this isn't your best work, try again and make more effort this time".

The growth mindset encourages (a) children who are used to getting things perfect first time who cannot cope with criticism of their work and refuse to redo it as they believe if they can't get something right first time, it's not worth doing and (b) children who have no faith in their ability at all and need to be pushed into making an effort.*"

So a 5 year old has to deal with a 'growth mindset' but teacher's are too delicate hmm

I think all parents of SN DC have a responsbility to encourage a growth mindset in teaching 'professionals' grin

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Tue 02-Feb-16 13:38:16

I so want to say "this isn't your best work, try again and make more effort this time" in response to the CT instead of patiently explaining the bleeding obvious for the nth time.

zzzzz Tue 02-Feb-16 13:39:56

I have a rich fantasy life surrounding what I could be said/done grin. This board is very cathartic.

Bookeatingboy Tue 02-Feb-16 13:53:13

Since I've now been muzzled (for want of a better phrase) I need to get me a fantasy life zzzzz if only to save my sanity grin

Oh the irony keep

StarlightMcKenzee Tue 02-Feb-16 14:41:56

I know the written way isn't popular with this teacher, but I think you do have to insist tbh.

It is the fairest way for all of your and takes the emotion completely out of it whilst creating a written record of things you can BOTH refer back to.

And both sides can consider their responses before reacting.

To insist on face-to-face in these circumstances can lead to emotional manipulation of you, and clearly, calls of harassment from the teacher.

Veritat Tue 02-Feb-16 15:56:57

It does appear odd that she wants everything face to face and not in writing. Logically, that would take up much more of her time than dealing with emails would. Also, if she finds you intimidating, wouldn't it be more intimidating to be in your presence? After all, at least you can shout "Oh, piss off!" at an email, and you can think about your response carefully and consult others about it.

But of course we know the real reason behind this is that (1) there's no record and (2) she can avoid you by being mysteriously unavailable to meet you for long stretches of time. So make sure that your friend takes detailed notes of meetings, and afterwards type up the salient points as minutes and email them to the teacher, Senco and head. And if she's not available to meet you, write to her anyway saying you know she prefers a meeting but you don't have an alternative as she hasn't been able to arrange one.

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