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Not making enough contribution in class?

(20 Posts)
tatt Wed 27-Jun-07 19:04:30

This has been a consistent theme - especially with one of my children. At primary we had to persuade the teachers to ask more of them because their ability was underestimated. Once they did things improved. Now we are getting it again at secondary school.

What do we do? I asked one of the teachers at a parents evening and they just said some children are shy. I know my child is shy but they are also lazy and in maths lessons bored so they don't listen. I'm told they don't ask questions because " I know the answers already". It's a good school, they are streamed only into two halves and my child is in the top stream.

Should I be expecting a lot more from the school? Is it worth arranging privately to see an educational psychologist for some ideas? I'm worried that next year when they are streamed further my child will be marked down for not contributing to the class. Then they will get even more bored.

amicissima Wed 27-Jun-07 21:01:08

Oh, I get so sick of this. My DD has been like this all through school. The best teachers force her to speak by asking her direct questions. If she knows that may happen she has to focus. The worst ones say 'you must ask if you don't understand' - but she doesn't know she doesn't understand, and often drifts off because she can get away with it - she doesn't cause any trouble, so isn't challenged. I suspect that she could do better if she engaged more, but she is the way she is and could have worse faults.

I was the same. They used to say to me 'you should have more confidence' .

DS, on the other hand, is not!

fizzbuzz Wed 27-Jun-07 21:20:06

I am a teacher, and some kids don't answer questions for variety of reasons. I will ask them directly, but if thet seem shy or awkward I don't push it.

Answering questions isn't always a sign of ability, it is more to do with personality. I never use it as a method of assessment, although I know it is important in English

If they are bored, they may be gifted, and an assessment may pick this out, although most Y7's sit tests at start of Year 7 which are used to indicate ability, although they are not always completely accurate

tatt Wed 27-Jun-07 22:16:32

but why don't teachers push it a little? I know with mine they will talk if the teachers make an effort.

tatt Thu 28-Jun-07 06:42:00

I've decided I need to go and talk to someone at the school because I feel quite angry about this. I know that in maths lessons they draw on their hand because they are bored. Problem is that if you are bored you don't listen and your work suffers. OTOH when the teachers did make an effort to get them involved their confidence increased. Seems to me saying "it's more to do with personality" is an excuse for not trying to build confidence.

I know there are things we can do at home but they spend as much time at school as they do at home!

tatt Thu 28-Jun-07 15:35:06

meeting wil be arranged - any tips on how to handle it?

fizzbuzz Thu 28-Jun-07 19:33:47

FGS I was ONLY trying to HELP

tatt Thu 28-Jun-07 19:49:19

Yes I realise that and I'm pretty sure I'll get similar comments from their teachers. Still feel that it's a cop out and what they are really saying is we're only interested in the noisy ones - at least until their work has gone seriously downhill.

fizzbuzz Thu 28-Jun-07 20:47:22

Well, If I spent every lesson, trying to tease out questions from reluctant students for whatever reason, then quite frankly, there would be no time for the rest of the lesson, which means rest of pupils would suffer. Instilling confidence in a child is not just a job for teachers, but also for parents.

When you have 25 students in a group then you don't have time. Also if they are "so bored" that they are drawing on their hands, then perhaps if they paid attention to lesson, rather than decorating their hands they may become less bored. I detect a level of childish arrogance here.

If you want help from teachers on here, I suggest that you don't get involved in teacher bashing

meandmyflyingmachine Thu 28-Jun-07 20:51:43

Sometimes teachers make this comment when they don't have much else to say. When the child is doing well, but you are pushed to think of a way in which they can improve. I think you need to find out if it actually a problem before you worry.

Hulababy Thu 28-Jun-07 20:52:17

In a one hour lesson, with 30 children in the class - if you think about it each child gets approximately 2 minutes of the teacher's time. That is why teacher's don't always have time to push.

If a teacher identifies a child who has difficulties in doing the out loud work they will use their professionalism to find other ways to check the pupil is workign, on task and knows what they are doing.

At school I hated answering questions out loud. I was very shy at school. Had a teacher tried to push me, or had it lingering over me for ages, I would have found school hoorendous and stressful I got on with me work, and I was able, but answering out loud was not for me.

Hulababy Thu 28-Jun-07 20:53:26

Why is your child bored and lazy in class? I personally think thi is the issue that needs focusing on and resolving, not the answering out loud.

Blandmum Thu 28-Jun-07 20:56:59

I'm interested in all the kids I teach, but as fizzbuzz says there are limits to what we can do in class, given the time constrains and the fact that you have 29 other kids in the class.

And realistically some kids do just fine without constantly answering stuff in class. Off hand I can think of 3 girls that I teach who never get involved in lessons, but will contact me by e-mail. If that makes them happy, fine. And since they are all getting top grades at A level, it doesn't seem to be harming them.

In reality the most a teacher can do is to create and open environment where people know that they can contribute if they want, and feel secure doing so,

meandmyflyingmachine Thu 28-Jun-07 21:08:38

And the ones who answer loudest in class can still be lazy when it comes to the other parts of the lesson.

Just because they don't shout out the answers doesn't mean the teacher is unaware of their ability.

And unless the teacher has expressed serious concern, seeing an EP is a bit of an over reaction.

As I said, it is a pretty standard 'how your cild can improve' comment.

tatt Fri 29-Jun-07 08:16:30

What is an EP?

I'm not teacher bashing. I've worked to build up the children's confidence but I need that to be supported in the 7 hours they spend at school. If their confidence is being undermined at school - and it seems it is - what we do at home is being undermined.

According to their report they work well enough in other areas. The impression I get, however, is that the standard of one child's work is beginning to decline. That has been said explicitly in English and was implied in maths. We need to discuss with the teachers what we are doing about English and whether they have any other suggestions and to talk about who teaches them next year for maths.

In other subjects I have no idea about how much of an issue this is. If this is a target for improvement then the teachers should have some idea how they expect an improvement to come about - and be prepared to share how to produce an improvement.

fizzbuzz Fri 29-Jun-07 13:49:46

An EP, is an Educational psychologist. However if your ds sat any tests at start of Y7, they would have picked up on exceptional ability. If they didn't sit any tests, then take them to an EP.

However most teachers have a very clear idea of a childs ability, so talk to your child's teacher. If your child is bored in class it may be that he is exceptionally able, or it may be that he isn't that interested in the subject.

Boys particularly find it hard to focus, and often drift off, but this may be indicative of another proble.

tatt Sat 30-Jun-07 09:15:19

The school constantly does assessments - which show above average ability - but we know from past experience that our child gets higher marks in assessments when their teachers involve them more. We can see the difference now between subjects where the teacher has caught their interest and those where they haven't.

My child's teachers are not lazy, so I take their comments seriously. But they are teaching children, by example, that the quieter ones in a class are unimportant. That is not only bad for my child it is bad for the others. In a more commercial environment they will have to learn how to create a team using all the skills available to them.

I was not specifically looking for help from teachers, but from anyone who has had a similar problem and what they have done/ what has happened later.

fizzbuzz Sat 30-Jun-07 15:01:17

I give up. We can't do everything. I think your problem is basically your attitude. A teacher can engage a child, IF the child wants to be engaged.It is a 2 way process, hence we are observed on teaching AND learning.

Perhaps you would like us to be entirely reponsible for everything your children do. That would soon absolve you and your children from any responsibilty at all.

I bet you are a delight at parents evening

amicissima Wed 04-Jul-07 14:26:53

Well, it's interesting to see the comments from teachers because some of DD's teachers have either suggested, themselves, that they 'pounce' on her occasionally, (not often, just enough to keep her on edge!) or have agreed to try that approach. The ones who wouldn't left me feeling that DD was just making up the numbers and was left alone as she doesn't cause any trouble, ie, I've felt discouraged, so I understand why she does.

Interestingly, she has not only done much better in subjects where the teacher will 'pounce', she has also picked those subjects when given the choice. Although I sympathise with Hulababy's comment, I think in DD's case she just needed a little extra encouragement in the face of some hot vocal competition in the classroom.

As to what you can do, obviously keep reminding the DCs that learning is an interactive process, and they do need to do their bit. (My DD just said that she could never think of anything to say, though I suspect that she was drifting off, because she didn't think she was going to be challenged). It's hard because as we're not in the classroom we can't see what's really going on.

I did spend two years sitting her down every evening and going through every subject she had done that day and making a brief note of what she had learned. Where she wasn't clear (and she always thought she had 'got' it until she tried to explain it to me) we looked at the CCP book together and sorted it out. At the end of the week I got her to tell me again what she had done in each lesson, each day. It was quite time-consuming, but I think it was worth it and I gave her the notes before the year-end exams to look at again. (I also learned quite a lot that I hadn't done at school!)

HTH

tatt Tue 17-Jul-07 19:46:42

we finally got to see the teacher and agreed a course of action that we are all happy with. The teachers will try to single them out a little. The class is a vocal one and they agreed that sometimes the quiet ones can get overlooked even when they are trying to get involved. We'll see how that goes for a while and if it doesn't work then maybe there will be an action plan where my child has to record what contributions they have made and discuss them with their tutor. Meanwhile we'll continue with what we are doing at home, since the teacher agreed that was useful.

We asked about some sort of assertiveness training outside school (and if any teacher at the school did that), but we're going to try other measures first. Amicissima - thank you, your experience is also very similar.

I'm glad my children are at a school with good teachers.

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