How do I handle this?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by mmswm, Sep 19, 2010.

  1. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Sep 19, 2010

    I'm hoping for advise with my own son. I've been mulling this over all weekend, and I'm at a loss.

    My 4th grader is a bit of a smarty pants. He's in trouble...again...for correcting a teacher...and being right.

    Last year, he got in trouble for arguing with a teacher because she marked a question wrong on a test. The question showed an object and asked if it was a rectangle. My son said yes, it was. It was a square, which is just a specific rectangle. He didn't handle the situation well at all, and I wound up having a long talk with his teacher about it.

    Well, fast forward to this year. Twice now he's corrected his teacher. He doesn't seem to get that it's not okay to correct your teacher in the middle of class. The first time, it was over a math problem (yes, you can subtract 5-9, as long as you can handle negative numbers), and this last time was yet another test question. Circle the food item that's not a fruit. The answer was supposed to be "squash", but my son, said, rightly might I add, that a squash IS a fruit (technically speaking, a fruit is the part of the plant that contains the seed).

    Anyway, I've talked to his teacher, I've talked to him, but I'm struggling to teach him that it's not okay to correct people, especially your teacher, in the middle of class. It's embarrassing, and it's disrespectful.

    Any thoughts?
     
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  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I think he just needs to learn to address his concerns with his teacher privately. Kind of a mature thing for a 4th grader, and truthfully, if that happened in my class I'd have to give him some credit for being so smart. Maybe role play with him some different scenarios where he might want to address a problem or 'right a wrong' in a positive way. Good luck!!
     
  4. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    What's probably more embarassing is how often his teachers are wrong.

    I HATE when I have to teach that you CAN subtract a large number from a small number, or take the square root of a negative, or factor the sum of not-so-perfect squares. I always wonder whether the teacher who insisted that it couldn't be done was too lazy to explain (how hard is it to say "You'll learn this next year"???) or simply didn't know.


    I think that you have to make the point that embarassing someone is never the way to go. So he needs to make it a policy NEVER to correct one of his teachers in public, but to always spend time after class having the conversation.
     
  5. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    CzaCza, you have no idea how relieved I am to hear you say that it seems a bit on the mature side for his age. I feel a little better knowing that somebody else thinks this might be a hard thing for him to learn.

    And yes, I've had these discussions with him...about how, if he thinks he's right and a teacher's wrong, he needs to either address it with the teacher in private, or bring it to me, and I'll address it with the teacher. I feel like I'm beating my head against a brick wall. He's 9. He blurts things out. Failure to think is a common disease around here.

    Alice, as far as the teachers being wrong so often, I've been mollifying myself with the fact that, at least with the things that have been brought to my attention, the errors have been either things that many people get wrong, like the technical definition of a fruit vs. a vegetable, or, with the math problems, things that aren't normally addressed at the elementary level.
     
  6. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    But one would hope that ANY teacher had heard of negative numbers, or knew that a square was a type of rectangle.

    I see your point about Stuart needing to be respectful, but don't you wonder about the conversations these "teachers" have with others in the faculty room? They recount the story, and hopefully someone tells them that they're NOT smarter than a 4th grader???

    Oh, to be a fly on the wall....
     
  7. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    Sep 19, 2010

    I love it when the kids correct me-especially with something I didn't really think of (what can I say, I'm a GT teacher)-it means at least they are paying attention! ;) That math thing drives me nuts too-that you can't subtract a bigger number from a smaller one.

    I would put it in terms he could understand-would it be fun if the tables were turned and he was called out on a mistake in front of everyone? I would even role play with him-you're the teacher and you say a tomato is a vegetable-what does he do in that situation? It's just one of those life lessons that he's learning early!
     
  8. Toast

    Toast Companion

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    Sep 19, 2010

    In 3rd grade I've had children comment that I "could" subtract numbers, (especially teaching subraction with regrouping) but would end up with a negative number. I would usually just smile, say "yes, you can. But that is something you are going to learn next year. For the purpose of this assignment we aren't going to use negative numbers. You are right though!"

    And then I will keep teaching. For a teacher to get offended over being corrected when the student is right.......that is silly to me.

    If the teacher is having issues with him blurting out and interrupting her to argue then encourage him to only speak with her in private. Or if it's a thought that can't wait, he should perhaps jot it down on a post it to give her after class privately?
     
  9. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    I've met teachers that hated it when students showed them they were wrong. But I've met far more students that did not know how to point out a mistake without major attitude. Maybe the issue is less about the teacher being wrong and more about how he approaches it?

    I teach honors high school students. They know more more than I do about many things. I have absolutely no problem being wrong about something. And there have been times that I've flat out told them the wrong thing when I wrote the lesson plan myself! lol. I've just tripped over my tongue or got ahead of myself. So it is not an issue of pride with me by any means. But I don't care for it when I catch attitude from a student.

    In two weeks I am going to tell my students something "wrong." I will tell them that I am giving them a simplified version of what actually happens and they will get more information later down the road. But for now, in order to not complicate things, I will give them somewhat false information. Then, if they continue with science and have me next semester, I'll tell them the truth, lol.
     
  10. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    I also think it's more about HOW he's handling it (in public, in front of classmates). It doesn't bother me when students correct me. In fact, I sometimes make a game out of it. It sure does seem crazy the mistakes these teachers are making though.
     
  11. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    NCST: That's exactly what I'm asking for help with....getting him to figure out how to speak his mind without being rude :)

    I've talked to him ad nauseum. I haven't done much role playing, though I've done some. I think the suggestions for more role playing are good:

    I would love some more suggestions on how to teach my little darling some tact. :D
     
  12. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    Can he write down what he thinks/knows is wrong and offer an explantion of why he thinks/knows he is right and then turn it in to the teacher. Maybe treat it like another assignment where the teacher doesn't have to save face. I can imagine how hard it is for him to hear information he knows isn't true and not react in some way so maybe writing in down will help.

    I teach my high schoolers how to respectfully disagree/correct/ information I give in my class. I let my students know on day one I know a lot about history but by no means do I know everything. Since the History Channel has come along, I have almost experts in my room and I do allow them to share their information in a respectful way. When I present information in class that a student questions, they must raise their hand, tell me where he/she learned the info; "Mrs IN, I was watching the History Channel/I was reading this book . . ." We then decide to research futher and come to a conclusion about the research such as credible sources, bias, etc. . . It's an awesome learning experience no matter who is right.

    BTW - my high schoolers still talk about their teachers who told them there was no such thing as negative numbers and I don't even teach math. They really do feel betrayed :(
     
  13. Lynnnn725

    Lynnnn725 Connoisseur

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    Sep 19, 2010

    He should have been in my class in first grade;)
    We hit heavily how everyone makes mistakes and when someone does, what can we do to help them, not hurt them. Sorry that doesn't help you though...
     
  14. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

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    mm, I don't really think you can teach a 4th or 5th grader to be tactful, polite or wear deodorant.
     
  15. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    *sigh*

    I guess I'll keep talking to him, and add more role playing, and pray for his maturity level to catch up to his brain quickly!
     
  16. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Hey, now, I've seen 4th graders put on deodorant in the hallway, right in the middle of everyone! Haha.

    mm, could he practice finding ways of rephrasing his comments into 'polite' questions?
     
  17. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Ups...I'm not the best with coming up with those types of questions. Help me out here...with the situations that I've talked about, how could he approach a teacher, considering he's only 9 years old, with a polite question? The only thing I can think of is more along the lines of what INteacher has her students do, and that seems a little to "old" for him. :help:
     
  18. TeacherC

    TeacherC Connoisseur

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    Maybe instead of blurting out that she is wrong, he could raise his hand and ask "If you did try to subtract those numbers, wouldn't you end up with a negative answer?"...or, "Will we be learning about negative numbers later in the year?"...or "Isn't a fruit a food that has seeds inside?" I think if he phrases it as a question it won't seem quite so attitude-y :)
     
  19. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Oh, those are good ideas, TeacherC. I'm at a bit of a loss, since I was the same way as a kid. I got sent to the headmaster's office more than once for "mouthing off". I feel for the kid, but I'm hoping for a better resolution than I ever got.
     
  20. alschoolteacher

    alschoolteacher Companion

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    Sep 19, 2010

    My brother had this same issue as a kid, and in fact still has issues with it. He was sent to the office many times for arguing with the teacher. As a teacher, I don't get upset unless the kid is rude about it. Even then, I make it clear that it is the attitude that I don't appreciate. Occasionally, (okay, frequently) my brain gets ahead of my mouth and I make unintentional mistakes. The kids will look at me and slowly the hands go up. I like the idea of roll playing with him. My brother's teachers used to have him research and write a paper on the subject in question. Of course, they thought they were punishing him. : ) Have him practice saying things like, "I thought that all squares were rectangles." Or "So and So told me that the fruit was the part of the plant that holds the seed." It sounds less accusatory that way. Good luck!
     
  21. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Sep 19, 2010

    I feel for the boy, mm, truly, I do.
     

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