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what is the teacher's responsibility?

(50 Posts)
quinne Thu 01-Oct-09 09:45:43

Can someone help please as i am confused about what to do!

We've just come back to live in the UK and DS1 (age 7) is going to school for the first time in his life. The problem is that I have the feeling that teacher isn't helping him. e.g. he lost a piece school kit (his school badge) 10 days ago and she keeps telling him "I'm busy, speak to me later" everytime he asks her to tell him what to do about it. That's twice a day for several days running.

Then she spoke to me to say his writing is too slow. I think she's probably right. She says he needs to learn to go faster. I agree. But then there is silence and I get the impression that she sees it as my responsibility to work out how to fix this and she's discharged her duty by telling me about it.

We also spoke about his reading ability which is far in excess of the rest of his class. I told her that he'd read the last book in a hour and please could he have a new more difficult one? However, 8 days later he's still got the same book. No one has checked his reading or whether he understands it and my note in the reading record hasn't been read either.

Basically she takes the word "brisk" to the point where my son is intimidated by her and has to pluck up the courage to speak, only to brushed aside again.

I could give more examples, but that's the jist of it. So are my expectations too high or is the teacher not covering the minimum?

She looks about 26 so i don't think she can have much teaching experience. Maybe this is her first time ever settling a child into school, rather that just changing schools.

She seems like a reasonable person to me but she does seem a bit keen to prove her authority even with me. I'm thinking that either she is a poor teacher or she's just a bit inexperienced and lacks compassion or I am being unrealistic as she does have 24 other children to teach.

Does anyone have any advice? Really i just want my son to have a happy first experience of school and to be given an education.

overmydeadbody Thu 01-Oct-09 09:50:29

At 26 she could potentially have 5 or 6 years teaching experience under her belt so I don't think age is an issue.

Some teachers are just better than others, maybe she is one of the not so good ones.

RE the books thing, I have the ame problem with DS, his reading record never gets read by the teacher and he never gets new books home from school because his reading is adult level, he takes his own books into school to read. BUT I have found out it is the child's responsibility to change books, as often as they want, so could be daily or weekly. My ds chooses not to do this very often (usually because he is too engrossed in a book from home anyway)

Make an appointment to speak to her about how to help him with his writing, and speak to her about your other concerns too. But you have to make an appointment so you know you have her undivided attention.

overmydeadbody Thu 01-Oct-09 09:52:39

And I do think he should just loo kfor his own school badge or you should buy him a new one from the office. The teacher probably doesn't see it as a priority in the grand scheme of things (it isn't is it?). Speak to the TA about helping him find it or about how to get another one. TAs have more time for this sort of thing.

FranSanDisco Thu 01-Oct-09 10:00:16

I think at 7 yo your ds should be taking the initiative to look for his badge. My ds changes his book when he wants to. He is a good reader and only gets to read to the teacher once a week so if he finishes a book he changes it. Your ds's writing can and should be practised at home if he is slow. There is only so much time allocated to literacy in school unfortunately.

quinne Thu 01-Oct-09 10:18:55

It turns out that it is his responsibility to change the book but because he doesn't know about how things work in a school, he didn't know that (my point about being new to school life not just to this school).

The badge isn't such a big problem, except that she made a big thing of it to me three weeks ago when he got it... it must be worn every day, if lost it must be replaced immediately. etc. So now its lost and she won't tell him who to ask for a replacement or listen when he asks for permission to go and search for it. I don't want her to do it, but I do want her to atke the trouble to provide some direction since she made such a fuss about it in the first place.

Reading... my child is at adult level too. I stopped teaching him to read some months ago and in my view he could do with spending time on his writing rather than reading as homework, especially as he reads for fun at home but the teacher wants him to work his way through books supplied by the school and then doesn't enable him to do that (and hasn't checked his reading for at least two weeks).

So am I being unreasonable? What should I expect of her? I can feel trouble brewing and if it just my misunderstanding then I'd rather be put right here on MN instead of cause bad feeling at school with DS1 taking the fallout.

Tell me what I am missing because maybe it is just me?

overmydeadbody Thu 01-Oct-09 10:23:53

Is it a private school?

Make an appointment to see the teacher, and tell her all of your concerns, without sounding like you are complaining or accusing her of anything, but in more of a "how does it all work?" way.

I know with my DS often the problem is that he doesn't listen when the teacher is explaingin things to the whole class (like about getting your own books), so although the teacher has done her best and in her eyes told DS what to do, with 28 other childrne she can't check that each and every child has understood. MY ds doesn't listen (too busy with a nose in a book) so misses stuff. That is his problem, in my eyes, not the teacher's.

Make an appointment to speak to her.

hullygully Thu 01-Oct-09 10:29:15

Poor you, make an appointment to see the teacher and explain, ever so nicely, that not just your son, but you, have no idea how things work and would she be kind enough to tell you so you can tell him and help things along.

quinne Thu 01-Oct-09 10:30:54

its a state school but maybe it is a good idea to speak to her anyway? She's a bit odd though... v. keen to establish her authority... which is why I wanted to know what's normal before i went in to her.

hullygully Thu 01-Oct-09 10:34:51

Some of them are like that. Be terribly deferential until she relaxes and doesn't think you want to kill her.

LadyMuck Thu 01-Oct-09 10:35:18

To be honest I think that you are better off finding another mum in your ds's class to chat to and see how things work. Every school is different, and it takes a while to get up to speed, whether you have been at school or not before. Another parent may be able to at least let you know what the expectations are for your school.

seeker Thu 01-Oct-09 10:35:26

Make an appointment. Tell her you need half and hour or so. Make a list of all the practical things you need to know and take notes so you don't forget, and can remind her of what she said later on if you need to.

Remind her that ds hasn't been to school before. Maybe ask if there is a sensible boy in his form who can take ds under his wing for a while to explain how things work to him.

And I do think giving a 7 year old a badge and telling him that it's really important he doesn't lose it is a seriously bonkers thing to do!

hullygully Thu 01-Oct-09 10:37:41

Wot Seeker said.

quinne Thu 01-Oct-09 10:37:42

I think one issue might be that i home taught until now. (because there were no schools, not because I wanted to).

I'm not especially proud of how I did. My son progressed well in everything except writing and drawing but that is through his ability and enthusiasm to learn rather than my (practically non-existent) teaching skills.

However, the teacher does some weird things. Like she told me to teach him odd and even numbers by Christmas. I replied that he knows them already - has done for two years - and could she set a new target. She replies that she tested them and he does indeed know them but he doesn't know why! I let it go but what she does not know is that my degree is in pure maths.

hullygully Thu 01-Oct-09 10:38:42

Oh dear you are really going to struggle...

quinne Thu 01-Oct-09 10:40:16

our postings crossed... I'll take your advice and speak to another mother first while being really deferential to the teacher until she gets the superiority thing out of her system.

overmydeadbody Thu 01-Oct-09 10:40:56

Agree with Seeker.

Make an appointment. LEt her know by your manner that you are not critisising her so she hopefully mellows a bit and is not on the defensive.

If homework is set that he already knows, just leave it and choose soemthing else to do with your DS instead. It doesn't really matter.

overmydeadbody Thu 01-Oct-09 10:43:36

So did she mean he doesn't understand the concept of odd and even numbers but just knows them by rote? Or that he doesn't know why he already knows them? Seems a bit of an odd thing to say.

quinne Thu 01-Oct-09 11:14:28

overmydeadbody... I don't know what she means. He knows them by rote and he knows the way to work out what any given number is i.e. if the last digit is 0,2,4 or 1,3,5 etc. He can count in twos (and in threes) etc.

I think she was just a bit put out that he'd arrived at school from being home taught but already knowing things, so she is trying to make it sound more complicated than it really is. If I wasn't sure of myself in maths then maybe I'd have doubted myself so she just choose the wrong subject. She could easily have bested me in linguistics.
I think the real point was to send a message to me, and she did but it was not the message she probably meant to send. I thought it was a bit pathetic actually.... and I expected more from a professional.

I don't want an argument with her though. i'm just not interested in that. I just want her to teach my son, push him on and show me how to help her to help him at home to improve his writing speed.

quinne Thu 01-Oct-09 11:27:23

oh yeah... and then the other hurdle which looks a million miles away at the moment... if the teacher doesn't even want to acknowledge that he's at least proficient in the basics (except writing) then how am I going to take my ofsted inspector friend's advice (after assessing him) which was to have him put into the G&T group??? Luckily I haven't mentioned this yet because I have a feeling that DS1 would suffer!

seeker Thu 01-Oct-09 11:28:03

Can I give a piece of advice? I don't want to sound patronizing, so forgive me if I do. It's this.

Never leave a meeting with a teacher thinking "I wonder what he/she meant by that?"

Sometimes teachers are brilliant at relating to 7 year olds but not brilliant with adults. Sometimes, sadly, they are crap at both. So if you don't understand, ask, ask and ask again. And write it down - to jog your own memory - and the teachers', if she forgets something she has agreed to do.

I think it's pretty unlikely that she is put out that your ds has come from home education "knowing stuff". It seems more likely that your ds has not understood something he's been asked (maybe because he's used to more sophisticated mathematical language than the average primary school teacher uses!) and has given the impression he doesn't know something he obviously does.

quinne Thu 01-Oct-09 11:34:28

You don't sound patronizing at all. i am grateful for the help.

I wrote on here for help and I know I may sound big headed but I am not. I've got a really nice little boy who likes learning and does so quickly but at the moment he's too intimidated to even ask the teacher (again) who to contact for a replacement badge. And I don't know what to do about it because I think the teacher is having a bad reaction to me and I don't want to make it worse for him. (he says she ignores him almost every time when he puts his hand up to answer a question and she only asks him if 7 or 8 other children have got it wrong first.)

treepose Thu 01-Oct-09 11:36:25

I have two kids, 8 and 6, and can relate to your post because I was brought up in a different country and some aspects of school here are taken for granted. It does take a while to settle into the system as such.

One of the good things about school though is that your son won't have the same teacher next year! I would take the time to get yourselves used to the system. You can still stretch him at home - you've done great up to now since he already knows so much!

IMO it is too much to expect a 7 year old boy to not lose a badge especially since all this is so new to him, don't worry about that. Also they should have given you enough information to be able to get another one if it is absolutely essential. My boy loses pieces of uniform regularly.

I don't know what the answer as to why the numbers are odd or even is - maybe she wants to know that even numbers are divisible by 2 or in simpler language you can pair them off without any left over?

Re: the books, both my kids are responsible for changing their own books, maybe that is the same in your school as well?

I second the suggestion to find a mum to talk to, and possibly a helpful teaching assistant. Some teachers do not like being approached often at the end of a long day and go on the defensive easily. Talk to the teacher once in a while to ask whether "there is anything you can help out with at home", that way she can give you some pointers without criticising etc. And save your big ammunition/questions for parent's evening or open days. Best of luck, he sounds like a great boy!

seeker Thu 01-Oct-09 11:59:02

I have an 8 year old, in year 4, and I think I would probably deal with the badge thing for him, now I think about it. I would go to the school office and ask.

Have you sat down with the teacher in a proper "meeting", or have you only had snatched 5 minutes in the playground?

As I said, if you don't understand something, keep asking until you do.

quinne Thu 01-Oct-09 12:23:43

I had a 20 min meeting with her two weeks ago (at her invitation). She did not make any comment on his ability or personality or how he fits in etc The only thing she talked about was the writing speed. And then we had that strange silence after it was identified that improvement was required. I was waiting her to lay out a strategy (we'd started the meeting by assuring her that we'd support her). But she didn't. I was going to wait until she decided to say soemthing to break the silence but unfortunately my husband was with me and he jumped in with suggestions that we could do (which she did not respond to)and the moment was lost.

I raised the subject of low targets with her at the meeting and she said that she had started DS1 on an easy level as she didn't know his ability and didn't want to make it too hard for him at the beginning. I thought that was fair enough then but that was two weeks ago and she has done nothing about it since.

The exchange about knowing odds and evens took place in his homework diary later.

On Monday he was crying in the playground when i came to take him home because I was angry that he won't ask about his badge or ask to change his book. After he started crying I stopped telling him off and was trying to calm him when the teacher appeared and just started telling him that he'd lose his pocket money now that he'd lost the badge. I was shocked tbh.

But it made me start to wonder what was going on and after talking to my son its clear he is intimidated by her as she keeps telling him to not bother her. I thought though that at least the book and badge problem would be resolved now. However, although DS1 now knows how to change the book (she told him rather spitefully in front of me that it is up to him at lunchtimes) but still nothing has happened re this badge.

Everyone who has ever looked after DS1 says what a nice child he is - except the teacher. (DS2 doesn't get the same level of praise BTW).

I thought of making an appointment with the head but then i was in the wrong too for being angry with him rather than first finding out what the underlying problem is.

She's not a witch... she's just a young woman who doesn't seem to like my son or me or just plain lacks compassion.

hullygully Thu 01-Oct-09 12:29:11

Robot teacher - there's a lot of them about.

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