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Monday, January 5, 2015

Advocacy for Your Child ~ Get Involved! "The Letter" to Parents

Many of you have been following my posts regarding concerns that lead me to remove my son from his second grade classroom. Here is the letter that will be presented to parents of children who remain in that room.  There are also ideas for how to talk to children using "open ended" questioning.  Do you know what's going on in YOUR child's classroom?

 A Special Note from:

Reflections Beneath The Poetz Tree

(Parenting Observations, Personal Insights, and Inspirations)

Dear Parents of Children in Mr. M’s 2nd Grade Classroom:
Parents have a right to know what is being done to protect our children!
I would like to share some concerns that lead me to remove my son from Mr. M’s classroom.  The school is unable to do this because teacher’s rights are protected by the “Human Resources” Department and the “Teacher’s Union.”  I submitted specific concerns in writing to Principal G. who forwarded these concerns to the Human Resources Department for our school district.  Supposedly an “investigation” was conducted and he was allowed to return to teaching your children. My concerns involve what appears to be “emotionally abusive” interactions.   I expressed my concerns to Dr. Gledich, the D11 Superintendent, who also informed me that he was unable to reveal the results of the investigation.  I am unsatisfied with his responses and feel that it is unfortunate our Principal’s hands are tied when it comes to this matter.  Parents have a right to know what is being done to protect our children!
Therefore, I am compelled to share this story so that you can be an advocate for your own child and make decisions that will be in her/his best interest for the remainder of the school year.  It is unfortunate that the Superintendent has been unable to resolve this matter in a way that I believe is sufficient for such a serious situation.  I strongly believe that children should have a voice and need to be respected in the classroom.  There are many details to this story and I hope you will take time to read the following posts I placed on my website to draw attention to this matter.  You may respond via Google or leave me an email if you have further questions.  I did not include the names of your children to protect their privacy.  I can tell you that my child was not the only one affected.  I have enclosed a sample of open ended questions you may want to use to encourage discussions with your children. 
Parents are the only ones who can change the way our schools view inappropriate interactions that can be considered 
 “teacher bullying.”  
Bullying is NEVER acceptable…even when a teacher is the one doing the bullying.  It’s up to us as parents to teach our children how they should be treated, when to stand up for themselves, and what to do if they feel like the target of emotional abuse.  For some reason there seems to be a lack of concern for this type of abuse. (Yet a teacher who physically hits a child would most likely not return to school.)  Because emotional abuse can be so hard to “prove” it is up to us as parents to teach our children how to protect themselves.  It is important to document specific examples of what makes children feel sad or angry at school.
Please go to Reflections Beneath The Poetz Tree (Parenting Observations, Personal Insights, and Inspirations) for further information on “Emotional Abuse” concerns. (You can Google this)        

(Part I and II in November and Part III in December)

Part I
Part II
Part III

How to find out how your child feels about school….
1.     Have daily conversations with your child about his/her day.
2.     Ask “open ended” questions and wait for responses.  Try to make it a mix of positives and negatives.  You’ll be surprised how much a child will tell you when you let then talk and remain calm.  Try not to get overly upset if your child reveals something concerning.  Simply write down the concerns and make sure to include specific details.
·        Tell me about your day.
·        What was one thing that made you happy about your day?
·        Can you think of something that made you sad or mad?
·        How are your friends doing?
·        Tell me something funny that happened.
·        What is your favorite thing about your teacher?  Least favorite thing?
·        Tell me about a time you were upset at school.
·        Tell me about a time you were having fun at school.
3.   If you want to know more about something your child tells you, you could say, “Tell me more  
about that.” or “Then what happened?” 
4.   If your child doesn’t like to talk about his/her day, then let them draw the answers to your questions.  Make a little book together.  
5. If your child shares anything that concerns you, please make sure you bring up the concerns to Principal G.  Put your concerns in writing and keep a copy of everything.  Document all conversations and email correspondence. 

Some examples of things to be concerned about:
1.     Teacher making fun of names of your child or other students.
2.     Making jokes at a child’s expense. (Embarrassing them)
3.   Teasing a child about their grades, classwork, handwriting, or performance in class.
4.    Making child stand up because they do not “sit the right way.”
5.    Making child sit on the floor in the corner because they are not “paying attention.”
6.     Drawing attention to physical characteristics by making fun of them.
7.     Scaring a child to get them to pay attention.
8.     Hiding their school supplies or projects.
9.     Refusing to allow them to go to the bathroom as needed.
10.  Refusing to allow them to bring a water bottle.

I truly hope that the situation has been resolved.  However, I do not place much confidence in this process.  My blog posts reveal email correspondence between me and Dr. Gledich.  If he had provided the information requested, this letter may not have been necessary.  Since the school is unable to satisfy my concerns, the next best thing I can do is make sure every parent is informed so that this never occurs again.  Together we can make a difference and make sure our children feel safe, secure, and valued.  We need to make sure their education is positive.  

Your Partner in Advocacy,
Reflections Beneath The Poetz Tree

Every Child deserves a POSITIVE educational experience!
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