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Help me be nice....

(133 Posts)
StarlightMcKenzie Wed 27-Feb-13 17:27:05

I have a disagreement with ds' school. It's quite big.

I don't really want to put much of the details on here because they are a good and nice school and don't deserve to be picked apart.

But how can I be nice, and not upset anyone whilst making it clear I am not happy about something.

You'd think I'd know. But in the past it was always about being reasonable and polite, realising that any implied friendship was just about them using as much of their tool as guilt as they possibly could.

With this school it is more genuinely about being friends - I hope.

So what? Take party bags? booze perhaps?

sickofsocalledexperts Wed 27-Feb-13 17:55:35

In writing or verbally I find there are some very useful phrases which take the aggression out of stuff with school.

Of course, always start with a positive "I really like what you are doing with..."

Then use a phrase like "building on that, I wonder if we might try..."

Or "he has been really responding well at home when we ..., do you think it might be a good idea to try something like that at school?

Or, "I would very much like your views on whether x might be a good route to try with DS?"

By phrasing things as questions, you hand the power of decision-making back to the teacher. It is parents trying to tell them how to do their job that gets their backs up. You need to sort of be humble/respectful and make suggestions for them to consider

It is then much harder then for them to refuse, though they may suggest alternatives. But at least then you are starting a discussion on the right topic. Setting the agenda for discussion, but allowing them some room for manoeuvre in that space.

Minx179 Wed 27-Feb-13 17:56:50

Have you tried 'I feel xyz when this happens/you say that'. You then leave the school to come back with a response.

Just a tip I've learnt from councelling; I've recently tried it elsewhere, where I have been trying to get some people to listen to my opinion/views/research for the last year, to no avail. Tried the 'I feel' approach and it worked.


KeepOnKeepingOn1 Wed 27-Feb-13 17:56:55

It kind of depends what the disagreement is about and whether the school know that you are in disagreement??

If they know and you know etc that you are in disagreement you can forget any thoughts of genuine frienship - he who pays the piper an' all.

They might be genuinely nice people but they occupy structural locations. Structural location will ultimately determine action.

Knowing that you may be able to do things that make things better at school on a day to day basis - but don't try and bribe them smile

moondog Wed 27-Feb-13 18:02:43

I don't think anyone wins when parents and staff fall out so always good to be mates.
If you the sort of person who is repectful of them and their ways, that goes a long way (eg kids in school on time, turn up to meetings, fill in forms on time, volunteer and help out). I know from experience teachers go the extra mile for folk like that.

I think Sickof makes some great points.

StarlightMcKenzie Wed 27-Feb-13 18:03:14

Oh yes. They know there's a disagreement.

Broadly they have given a reason for not being willing to do something that I think is valuable and the reason is centrered around ds' capability.

They know I disagree. They don't know I have evidence to support (though the evidence isn't documented, so they'll have to take my word for it, or not).

It will be face to face.

StarlightMcKenzie Wed 27-Feb-13 18:07:59

Really helpful post sickof. I'll read it a few times to help me get the frame of mind and tone right in my head.

In honestly, ds has a lot to gain from my investing in this relationship, unlike many others gone before, and I don't want to either pee them off, or reduce my expectations of ds nor his pace of learning.

StarlightMcKenzie Wed 27-Feb-13 18:09:24

Oh I can bribe them Keepon. I have a garage full of plastacine that is there's if they want it............

sickofsocalledexperts Wed 27-Feb-13 18:10:13

Also, depending on how big a deal it is, sometimes you might have to lose a battle to win the war. There are very few decent SS around, so even a flawed decent one is worth its weight in gold

mymatemax Wed 27-Feb-13 18:18:06

I must admit that I dont interfere with the actual teaching etc. I try to leave that to the school. As long as ds2 is happy & progressing (as a person not NEC academically) then I tend to let them be the judge of his learning. I offer ideas & strategies & we bounce & share ideas. Generally speak daily when I hand him over. I always find keeping it less formal is the most positive way of working together.

zzzzz Wed 27-Feb-13 18:19:58

Be able to list four or five things they've done we'll and contrast it with other providers. Ie butter them up . Keep these to drop like honey bombs when arms start crossing.

Always present the infamous shit sandwich. Ie good bad good

Express gratitude if it is deserved

If your request is refused even given your expert experience bow to their experience and ask if they would be willing to try your idea for a brief time

Imply that other professionals would be interested to hear how this particular approach worked at school

Shake hands firmly palm at least perpendicular to floor
Make people wait for your thoughts
Sit with your back to the light on the highest chair
Raise your chin when talking to others
Finnish the meeting by thanking everyone for their input

silverfrog Wed 27-Feb-13 18:28:35

I agree with sickof that sometimes you have to lose a battle (or ignore an issue for a little while) in order to win a war.

I find sometiems that I have said the same thing to dd1's school a number of different ways before the penny drops and they say 'oh, right. thanks for that, we'll bear ti in mind'. Doesn't sound very positive on their part, but it does actually mean that they are keeping it in mind when planning the next step.

we are in the middle of an issue with dd1 at the moment, and they have ended up exactly where I predicted they might. it is ok, and totally recoverable, but I don't know why they had to end up here, iyswim, when it was pretty obvious that it would happen (obvious to us at home, anyway).

on the other hand, it does mean that they now have first hand data on how to handle dd1, which will defintiely come in useful to them over the years, as it is all about how she handles praise/reinforcement. so a case of blurring over details to look at the bigger picture, really.

sickofsocalledexperts Wed 27-Feb-13 18:39:52

In my work career, we used to call this the "Not Invented Here" syndrome

Ie, people don't want to do something unless they came up with the idea in the first place.

So our job is to gently guide them so that they come up with the ideas themselves,

Sounds like a very good case of NIh syndrome, silverfrog!

lougle Wed 27-Feb-13 18:48:22

Perhaps it would help to take a step back from the positions each of you occupy and look at what the common goal is?

1. No decent school (which you say this is) is intending to slow progress, stop progress or, worse, sabotage potential progress.
2. The shared goal is to improve DS's attainment in all areas.
3. The area of concern is x.

The central issue is that X is not defined in such a way that both parties agree.

The secondary issue is that in order to define X in such a way that both parties agree, there has to be a mode of definition. The parties do not agree as to how that definition can be arrived at.

SO, what's your priority? Having X defined, or the method of definition?

Do you really need such a detailed method of finding out what X is? The answer may be yes....fair enough. However, you're going to find out why school don't feel the same and what they are prepared to do.

Does it matter that right now the school doesn't see your DS as being able to engage in a method that you feel he can? Possibly, possibly not. It depends if that is a symptom of a wider mismatch of expectation.

Out of interest, the particular issue wide is the mismatch between your expectation and theirs?

zzzzz Wed 27-Feb-13 18:53:46

"Does it matter that right now the school doesn't see your DS as being able to engage in a method that you feel he can? Possibly, possibly not. It depends if that is a symptom of a wider mismatch of expectation.

Out of interest, the particular issue wide is the mismatch between your expectation and theirs?"

lougle Is talking a lo of sense.

LimboLil Wed 27-Feb-13 19:25:53

Oh gawd I'm no help. I have managed to stay nice so far but I wear one of those fixed toothy grins and my face is in danger if cracking under the strain. The times I've held it together, been polite, and the gone home and bawled. I just feel when you show emotion, tears, anger wtc you give them an opportunity to exploit that's. I used to be much more ahem passionate about things when I was younger. Weirdly, the two people in my life who gave driven me the most crazy my mil and dad, now deceased, are the ones who have demonstrated best how to play the game. You will find a way round it! Better advice from others on here :-)

StarlightMcKenzie Wed 27-Feb-13 19:29:12

Limbo, funnily enough I feel I need support here with this because for once my 'opponent' is not the enemy after years and years of fighting tooth and nail.

It isn't a position I am used to and my 'training' might go against me in this instance.

StarlightMcKenzie Wed 27-Feb-13 19:30:22

This thread is amazing. Thank you all.

Lougle No wonder you have managed to navigate so well for your dds. You appear to have the best gift of all 'knowing when to quit'.

lougle Wed 27-Feb-13 19:35:10

Not sure I'm there, yet, Star -much easier to see when other people should quit than when your zoom on the camera is set as far forward as it can be wink

LimboLil Wed 27-Feb-13 20:02:05

Aw Starlight well fwiw I see and hear parents every day moaning about nothing at all, holding the teacher up, emailing the head because little Timmy has lost a mitten, that type of dross. I am a bit of a never complain, never explain type but when there is a big issue I try to tackle it head on, staying polite and firm etc. I agree with the person that said let some stuff go. I have defo seen some stuff worthy of complaint but I've stayed on side, I don't want the reputation of the nightmare, complaining mum, I've spotted quite a few of those and I can't take them seriously even though they may be justified. You somehow need to find a way of getting them to do what you want them to and if it goes will praise them for their fantastic idea, My mil is a master at this, it threw me for years til I realised what she was up to lol. I don't know if this helps in any way! I am seriously on the verge of an emotional wobble now!

Handywoman Thu 28-Feb-13 11:53:23

Lougle is right, of course, it depends on whether the disagreement is on a macro or micro level.

I always had a brilliant, informal relationship with SENCO re dd1's SpLD (Dyslexia). Until I went in to tell them that I was not happy with NC levels the same from Y3 to Y4 in maths. And told them dd was anxious in maths, storming off, tears at home. And wanted them to do something as tiny as REMOVE THE TEN MINUTE COUNTDOWN from the internet maths homework. At which point I was informed by same SENCO, in no uncertain terms, that 1) I was wrong about NC levels (er.... nope) and 2) dd1 could not possibly be anxious about maths because she is always calm and happy at school. Ergo....dd1's anxiety is being transferred from me and is nothing to do with her SpLD.

...which was closely followed by a letter from HT stating dd1 'has no SEN in maths' (direct contravention of Ed Psych's report which was very explicit on the relationship between dd1's cognitive profile and maths difficulty).

At this point I declared myself 'out' of the close, informal relationship, wrote a very succinct letter to the Governors, quoting passages from the SENCOP which led to a very formal meeting. We handled it in a calm, assertive manner and got a few things, erm, 'straightened out'. It did feel like a massive gamble, that everything might fall apart, but it was a success and we are now back in our brilliant, informal relationship. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to believe we are back on track.

So touchy-feely 'I feel this' methods are not always necessary. Sometimes direct action is called for, accompanied by balls of steel (polished and made all shiney by help, more often than not, from MNSN).

inappropriatelyemployed Thu 28-Feb-13 12:19:02

I'm not sure what the issue is but could you suggest a trial on the basis that they 'humour you' with it if it feels really important to you?

DS school is great but we do have problems with the TA and that makes it tough as you have to find a level of diplomacy you don't feel like showing so as not to throw the baby out with the bath water.

I go in and read with kids on the SEN register once a week and bring in biscuits to say thank you etc.

I also try and make staff see that these problems are hard for anyone - including me- so no one is failing if something doesn't magically work.

But it is hard. I think the pick your battle advice is a good one and I try to do that based on its effect on DS.

Gorta Thu 28-Feb-13 13:11:55

This thread is brilliant for me at the moment. I have to go in to collect my ds now who is in a unit. I will smile and be nice and pick my battle for another day. I was hoping to be humoured but maybe it will happen next year with a different teacher. I totally agree with the advice here it is always best to keep on side and it is how best to approach a situation. I definitely think my own social skills aren't great as much as l try. Anyway it's great to read all this worthwhile advice.

StarlightMcKenzie Fri 01-Mar-13 20:25:12

OMG, They were so nice!

And I was nice!

And it was all just very nice!!!

I had to concede on a couple of things. I had to listen to them give their concerns about ABA which I feel were a bit based on ignorance, - and let it go, - and then they conceded hugely and we've got a trial.

And then we all agreed that the school were doing a fab job and that ds was happy there and that it's great to work in partnership!

Thanks everyone.

PolterGoose Fri 01-Mar-13 20:35:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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