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DD1, just going into Yr11, in tears, begging me not to see teachers before start of term

(13 Posts)
itsbeingsocheerful Thu 27-Aug-09 11:29:28

Do I listen and back down or make the appointment?

DD1 is bright and articulate and doing well, sort of, in that she's expected to get her 8 GSCEs, all in the C/B range. But I know she's capable of pulling most of those up to B/As. There's also seems to a lot of 'issues' with a couple of key teachers.

I wanted to go into school and see if any of these could be sorted out and if there is anything I could do to generally up her motivation. She has begged me not to. And tears are very unusual for her - 'whatever' is her more normal response

I can't decide if I'm turning into the sort of pushy, interfering, harmful mum, I always vowed I wouldn't be when it came to education or if I'd be letting her down by letting it go.

ZippysMum Thu 27-Aug-09 11:45:31

What are her objections?

IME there are 2 big possiblities (there are loads, but these are often the main ones)

1) She is trying really hard, trying to be independent and doesn't wnt to be made to feel like a child because you are interfering

2) She has something to hide / has got in with a bad bunch in the lessons where she has 'issues' with the teachers and doesn't want you to know.

Could you give her till, say 1/2 term to start pulling in the B's/A's, and if she's still underperforming, go in then? maybe she is trying to be more independent.

Or maybe give her tutor a call - the tutor could do a 'round-robin' to her teachers to get a general impression of how she's doing and what would help her improve.

piscesmoon Thu 27-Aug-09 11:47:55

I would sit down with DD first and discuss it with her, find out what she finds easy or difficult-which teachers she has problems with and why.
I think I might take a middle road and email her Head of Year and ask in general what they are doing about motivation in such an important year. The only good thing about league tables (I hate them in general)is that it is worth the school paying a lot of attention to DCs like your DD who can get the high grades if motivated.
My DS's comprehensive was very hot on it-attitude was constantly monitored and they were likely to be given a form to be signed each lesson if they were thought to be coasting.They were very hot on getting rid of the attitude that achievement=geek.
I would wait until the first parent's evening before you take it to a personal level-unless you don't get any satisfaction from the Head of Years answers.

positiveattitudeonly Thu 27-Aug-09 11:49:44

Hi, poor DD feeling so upset. I have found that the best way to "speak" to the teachers and get my message across with older ones is to email them and get a good email communication between you. It is less threatening to DD and you also will have a record of what is said, just in case things don't turn out as you had hoped. You can always say "on ....(date) you replied that you would......, could you please let me know if this has happened yet".

The teachers I have this communication with have always responded well and it really has proved very effective, (also DD doesn't need to know everything you say, or every time you emailhmmwink) Also a very quick response most of the time as the teachers tend to check emails at teh beginning and end of each day! grin

Good luck and I hope DD can relax and know that you only want to see her do the best she can, but also word of caution, try not to put too much pressure on her. It is a horrible time for youngsters! wink

piscesmoon Thu 27-Aug-09 11:51:57

Email is very handy. I have been very fed up in the past that teachers have telephoned me when a problem has got quite large.I made a point with asking DS3's form tutor to ask teachers to email me at the start of a problem, or what they thought might be a problem-rather than waiting until it developed.

GrinnyPig Thu 27-Aug-09 11:52:12

You do have to listen to her. It's possible there are some issues. It's also possible she is very embarassed about the idea of you making a 'fuss' at the school. Have a chat with her and explain you feel she could improve the results. Maybe help her with a plan for study and revision time.

Is there a parent evening early in the first term - I think DDs school usually has one - she can't object to you attending parent evening - well, she can, but since most parents will attend at least she won't feel singled out.

piscesmoon Thu 27-Aug-09 11:54:14

I agree with positiveattitudeonly-the DCs don't know that emails are going back and forth, and you have a record.

itsbeingsocheerful Thu 27-Aug-09 12:04:21

Thank you all.

I had not considered email, duh. I'll do that now. A more constructive use of my pooter than obsessive MNing!

GrinnyPig is right about her not wanting to make a fuss, she absolutely hates the idea of anything that might make her stand out - yet she wants to do a drama degree!

I think she may also be worried that the couple of teachers she 'clashes' with could make things even worse if she 'tells on them'.

If I wait for parents evening, I'm worried it might be too late to sort out things such as whether she does a couple of foundation level GCSEs which automatically limits her to a C at best. Anyone know the deadlines for exam applications?

ZippysMum Thu 27-Aug-09 12:37:17

When the decision is made about Foundation / higher tier depends on the subjects and the exam boards. You would need to get DD to ask her teachers.

slug Thu 27-Aug-09 13:07:26

<<slug puts her teacher hat on>> I've had this reaction quite frequently with adolescents. While, in some ways it is partly to do with growing up and being independant, it is worth noting that, however mature she may seem, your DD is still a child, both emotionally and legally.

Children of your DD's age often ascribe motivations to their teachers that are more a reflection of how they and their friends behave rather than how adults behave. Her analysis of what is going wrong and the teachers' may differ widely. I would check with several of her more 'difficult' teachersand see if they are all basically saying the same thing about her.

I've lost count of the number of parent/student confrences where a student is frantically worried that I will make things worse for them if they complain. They tend to forget that it is not all about them and for the most part, we are just happy if there is some solution to whatever is holding them back. I would also add that 9 times out of 10 the reason is to do with carrying on socialising inside the classroom. If some of my sparkier students put as much effort into their work as they did into performing, tantrumming and railing against the sheer injustice of being asked to turn off their mobile phone in class (for example), then there would be higher grades, and happier students, parents and teachers all round. grin

This is the start of a new year and an ideal time to start off on a clean slate with a good attitude. We are a lot more forgiving bunch than most students give us credit for. wink

Homebird8 Thu 27-Aug-09 13:12:54

At that age I wasn't working very hard at all. I was at a grammar school and had the ability to fly, but couldn't see the point. I did get my 9 O levels but not at the grades I could have.

In itself this wasn't a problem as I set off into 6th form anyway and took 3 A levels. The problem was that I'd got into the habit of coasting by then and got crappy A level grades. It took until Uni before I took control (because I was no longer being nagged at home and at school) and got a 2:1 and then a PhD.

Thinking back, all I really wanted was for someone to ask and really listen to what I was thinking and feeling. Then some goal setting (by me and not by others) would have been useful too.

My advice, based on my own experience, is to talk with her. Find out how she feels. Accept that as 'true for her' even if you don't agree and ask her what she wants to do. Perhaps she could do some goal setting herself with her teachers. She's not a little girl anymore and even tinies shine with a bit of responsibility.

Good luck. It may take 5 years (like it did with me) but at least you can be there for her. smile

itsbeingsocheerful Thu 27-Aug-09 13:27:50

Slug and Homebird, have you been bugging my house?

Slug: I imagine that is exactly how it is in her classes, her reports suggest that socialising is one her main lesson objectives!
I have also tried to make her understand the reaction of those teachers, but obviously being her mum and she being 16, well almost, I couldn't possibly be right, or understand.

And HB8 Your education path is very similar to mine, although I stopped short of the PhD, which is why I'm so loathe to 'interfere'.

I'm, or at least I thought I was, a firm believer in letting them find their own way. Once she knows what she wants to do, I know she will be able to achieve it, or at least the qualifications she'd need, even if its a few years after her peers who knuckled down at 16.

But then there's the, until now hidden, helicopter mum demanding to be heard!

slug Thu 27-Aug-09 14:02:01

grin grin If all those years in education have taught me one thing it's that mose adolescents are very alike. I often think it's a shame that we force our children to take exams which will affect their whole lives precisely at the time when they are least capable of coping with the emotional pressure.

The best success I have had with turning around student behaviour has been to have a meeting with the student, her parent(s), and as many of the teachers as can make it. If you then focus on the issues, being very specific with examples, and asking for her input on how to address each situation, you can come up with some strategies. For example, the in class socialising; Which classes is it worse in? Is there a reason for this i.e. who do they sit with? How does she react to being pulled up on her behaviour? Could she react a different way? If she feels she is being picked on, could the teacher give her a warning in a more discreet way? (I had warning words or hand signals with some students) How could she stop the behaviour before it starts? What will happen if she does not meet the expectations? How much time does the teacher spend confronting her behaviour? How much of an effect does this have on her? Her friends? The smooth running of the class?

If this is done before the term starts and you are all, her included, singing from the same songsheet, you may be surprised to find the behaviour does not reoccur.

I once taught an ADAH lad. He was a nightmare, behaviour wise. However, after we had a similar conference and agreed that if he started to feel himself 'lose it' he would give me a signal and leave the class. In the end he only used the right to walk out twice. It was knowing that he had that safety valve and that he was trusted enough not to abuse it that was the key.

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