Advocacy for Your Child
Here's my second post. I continue to have concerns about my child's participation in a school district that refuses to acknowledge how serious "emotional abuse" is in the classroom. After my child's second grade teacher reverted back to his "old habits" of ridiculing children, making fun of their names, and embarrassing them in class, here is the second letter I wrote. Remember that I have chosen to change names to avoid any issues with the school district regarding confidentiality. However, if they do not respond to my inquiries in a more acceptable fashion, I will have no problem taking these concerns to the local media. It's time parents started questioning, advocating, and demanding that teachers show respect to our children. Self -Advocacy begins from the time children are young and we are responsible for demonstrating this critical skill! (By the way, I am not the only parent who has voiced a concern. I am the only one so far who has chosen to be vocal and bring this issue to light.)
To: 2nd Grade Teacher
From: Mary Varville-Rodriguez
Parent of Child
Date: October 30.2014
Subj: Parent/Teacher Conference
Follow-Up regarding Concerns
Since our initial conversation on August 25, 2014 several additional concerns have occurred. On Tuesday September 16, 2014 you left a note in my child’s planner asking how he was feeling about being in your class I responded with:
“My child enjoys your classroom and has positive comments about you. Last night he did say he doesn’t feel good when some of his friends tease him about being small, so any words of encouragement from you would be helpful. We have talked about using humor to deflect their comments. We’d love to hear any strategies you have too. Thanks for your continued support. It means a lot!”
I received no response from you. When I saw you in the “kiss and drop” a few mornings later, I stopped and asked if you had seen the note. You confirmed that you did and agreed to observe what was occurring and address the concern. However, there was no follow up. I continued to advise my child on ways to deal with the situation.
Following that post, I left several other messages in his planner and received no responses or acknowledgment that you had read the notes. The messages were related to my child’s medical appointments and I wanted to make you aware of them. No long after I said that things seemed to be going well in your room, the situation gradually deteriorated and you now seem to be right back where we started in August. I am disappointed that your interactions with the students have reverted back to negativity, sarcasm, and ridicule when what they need is positive reinforcement, encouragement, and a calm voice.
September 25, 2014 I requested a meeting and left the following message in his planner:
“Teacher– Do you have time next week to have a short meeting? Just want to follow-up regarding my child’s attention in class. Thanks!”
No response or attempt was made for you to contact me.
September 30, 2014 I left the following note in my child’s planner:
“Teacher – My child wants to speak with you about concerns he has. I will follow up with you after school.”
My child told me that he put the timer on his desk as we had discussed in our meeting on 08/25/2014. He informed me that the issue he has regarding being embarrassed by a comment you made yesterday had been resolved. So I wrote the following note in my child’s planner:
“Thank you for taking time to talk with my child yesterday.”
No response or acknowledgement was made on your part.
Other notes were made in my child’s planner regarding medical appointments. I have attached copies of notes to this letter for your reference.
October 09, 2014 I commented as follows:
“My child thinks another child may have taken his stamped sheet to go to the prize box. He said he put his timer on the desk to ask you but you didn’t make time to talk to him” (as we have agreed upon in our meeting on August 25, 2014. He said you ignored the timer.)
I received no response or comment from you.
October 13, 2014 I left another message in my child’s planner:
“My child’s stamp sheet reappeared today into the plastic pouch in front of his planner.”
October 14, 2014 My child informed me that you had made fun of children’s names, including his, in the classroom. I left the following note in my child’s planner:
“Please remember to speak with respect to the children – do not make fun of their names.”
October 28, 2014 My child asked you to go to the library to return a book and check out a new one. You questioned whether or not he had read the book and made him read some of it to you. This was upsetting to him and he said you only did this with him.
October 29, 2014 I left a message in my child’s planner as follows:
“In the future when my child asks you to go to the library because he has finished a book – Believe him! Don’t make him “prove” it to you.
On the evening of October 29, 2014, my child informed me that you told him to sit on the floor near the corner to complete his practice book because he was “distracted.” My child told me he was absolutely NOT distracted and he felt singled out. He said you had never done that to anyone else. He also told me he does not like it when other children “get into trouble” in your classroom. My child gave me specific examples of interactions you have had with other children that continue to concern me.
Examples of interactions you have had with students that are absolutely unacceptable – especially for a second grade classroom:
September 29, 2014 – My child stated that he feels bad for “Child A” when the teacher told him his handwriting is “terrible” and makes “Child A” start over.
September 29, 2014 – My child was embarrassed when he asked the teacher to go to the bathroom. The teacher said, “Well, are you going to take your books with to go to the bathroom?” My child stated that everyone laughed at him.
My child also stated that the teacher changed my child’s seat again (after our August 25, 2014 meeting) and my child didn’t like where he was placed. He said he gets distracted because other children talk to him. I was not informed by you, the teacher, that this change had been made. After our discussion on August 25, 2014 I believed I had made it clear that certain environments and situations lead to distractions. Teacher, You made changes to our agreement without consulting with me. Therefore, you cannot place any blame on my child for “being distracted” or make him sit on the floor in a corner to complete an assignment. That is unacceptable!
October 29, 2014 – My child stated that the teacher made “Child M” cry because he made him stand up. My child informed me that if someone doesn’t “sit right” the teacher makes them stand up. This has also happened to “Child A2” and “Child A”.
Note: Children may need to sit “differently” for a number of reasons. If attention is an issue, then the child should be observed to determine what positioning tactics will encourage the best attention span. So what if they have to sit on their feet or pull their knees up to their chest? How would YOU like it if you went to a conference for several hours and someone told YOU how to sit? Would that make you feel welcome and comfortable and eager to learn?
October 29, 2014 – You said to “Child A2” “Are you going to be good at math or slapping yourself?” (Not sure what teaching techniques this is, but I will unequivocally oppose this no matter who said it to a second grader!)
October 2014 – “Child M” pulled his sweatshirt over his knees and you commented, “Stop doing that or else it will look like you have big boobs.” (Even my 7the grader was shocked at this comment and said, “That’s not appropriate for a second grader!”)
I have received no official responses from you other than my child telling me you did read his planner. A main concern I still have is that you continue to use language with the children that is not acceptable for their age level. Examples include:
1. When my child asked to go to the bathroom, you asked him if he was going to take a book with him too. The class laughed.
2. Another child was pulling his sweatshirt over his knees and you commented that it made him look like he had boobs.
3. You have made fun of children’s names and mispronounced them.
4. My child wondered why one of your writing assignments was “Tell me about a time you got hurt.”
5. My child was offended when you questioned whether or not he had finished reading a book and made him read to you to prove it. That was embarrassing to him. (We had finished reading the book together the night before and he was actually excited about checking out a new book.) I can understand wanting to check on a child’s reading/comprehension, but surely there is a more appropriate way to address this concern instead of basically calling a child a liar.
Making jokes at the expense of the children is never acceptable. It harbors feelings of resentment and teaches the other children that it is OK to tease and ridicule for the sake of a laugh.
I am also disappointed that you continue to spell my child’s name wrong even though the correct spelling has been pointed out to you.
I am concerned that my child has tried to use the timer to indicate he needs to talk to you and this has been ignored on at least 5 occasions that he has told me.
My child’s behaviors and attitude about school and homework have become negative since the beginning of the school year and I respectfully request that his school experience become more positive. I no longer plan to subject my child to your classroom, and am hereby officially removing him. I will consult with the Principal regarding my intent to remove him from your classroom effective IMMEDIATELY.
I am still concerned for the emotional well-being of the remaining children in the class.
1. Second grade does not appear to be an age group that you are suited to teach. You blatantly disregarded the first meeting and our agreement.
2. Reading books regarding “Sensory Integration” such as The Out of Sync Child may help expand your understanding of children who learn differently. Issues such as positioning, motor planning, and sensory overload may shed light on certain children’s behaviors.
3. I want other children in your room to have opportunities to express what makes them sad or embarrassed in your classroom. NO child should feel anxiety about coming to school.
I hope that you and the school will take the necessary steps to correct the concerns described in this letter. You can choose to contribute to the well-being of each child and foster a love for learning or you can create an environment that is hostile and borders on harassment. What kind of legacy are you going to leave? How do you want your students to remember you? My child doesn’t even know what happens to his homework. He thinks you probably just throw it away. So why should he be excited to do his homework? I never had issues with him before this year. I hope that you will do some soul searching and make decisions that will be in the best interests of the children.
Please make comments on this post or go to my email at firstname.lastname@example.org so that I can collect and post on this blog site. The district has to be made aware of this problem. Parents, please listen to your children's concerns, observe changes in behaviors, and ask lots of questions!
Graphics Attributed to: http://nubiansisters.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/sad-student.jpg