ISO Advice: As the parent of a 5th grader...

Discussion in 'Fifth Grade' started by Topsy, Feb 22, 2015.

  1. Topsy

    Topsy Rookie

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    Feb 22, 2015

    My son is having a hard year. He has never loved the "sit still" aspect of school, but on top of that, he and his teacher are just not connecting.

    She is one of the most polarizing teachers at the school, with most of those with an opinion really disliking her. That said, she does have her fans. She and my son are just not a good match: he is the kind of child who can just dig his heels in and refuse to budge, so if he doesn't like her, he's going to REALLY not like her and reject her on every level, refusing to work, refusing to put in effort, shutting down.

    My husband and I are at a loss. Even if we can even plead with the principal to switch him to another class: classes rotate by subject (math, social studies, and science), so he would still have her for math. As it happens, math is the subject we are most concerned with him shutting down, since next year's math is built upon what is learned this year.

    Any advice is welcome. Thanks so much.
     
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  3. Topsy

    Topsy Rookie

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    Feb 22, 2015

    Admin: do you think I should move this post to general ed?
     
  4. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Feb 22, 2015

    Hi, Topsy...I'm sorry your son is having a tough year. I've been thru a similar situation with my younger ds...we kind of went thru that year with the manta that you can stand on your head for 180 days if you have to. :huh:
    Asking for a switch in teachers will decrease the amount of time your son is with this teacher but if they switch for different subjects anyway does it make a big enough difference? No real advice here...you've got to do what your gut is telling you...good luck.
     
  5. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Feb 22, 2015

    I think this thread is fine where it is; members often check out all new posts rather than by forum title.

    You didn't really say if you believe that the teacher is doing anything objectionable other than not being on the same wavelength as your son. If she is merely annoying or not very likeable, then I think you should talk it through with your son. He will probably have more teachers that he doesn't like in the future. Is there a reason other than personality that makes your son somewhat intractable? If not, maybe this is the right challenge for him. Is there a guidance counselor or admin person to whom your son can go with his frustrations? Have you spoken to the principal about the issue? There are really only three months or so left. Perhaps a tutor could help your son become more confident in math and that might help him cope with that class.
     
  6. miss-m

    miss-m Devotee

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    Feb 22, 2015

    Seconding maybe talking through this with your son.

    However... from experience: I had this issue with my 5th grade teacher. She and I were on totally different pages, we didn't really get along, and I am the type to shut down when I get overwhelmed. I ended up digging in my heels on a couple long term projects, and I still shudder when I think about 5th grade. I ended up hating reading for a while because of her, even though I LOVE books and I love reading. I don't know that a different teacher would have made a difference, but it wasn't a positive experience.

    So... while it is important to learn how to cope with people you don't really get along with, there is some value to considering whether this is the time for your son to learn it or if it would be more beneficial for him to be with a teacher more on his wavelength for this year. 5th grade is already kind of a tough grade in my opinion, so the added pressure of learning that life skill might not be helpful for him. (Though as someone else mentioned, with only 3 months left in the year it may not make much difference either way :( )
     
  7. Topsy

    Topsy Rookie

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    Feb 22, 2015

    He is so stubborn! It is definitely his disposition at this point, to dig in his heels. I keep trying to explain to him that there are a lot of possibilities between "she's the best and I can't wait to learn with her" and "I hate her and everything she says is stupid."

    She is, well, tough. She never smiles and often uses sarcasm when speaking to students. I volunteer in the library and whenever she comes in she always tells the librarian that they did this thing or that thing wrong and she hopes they will be better during library. When a kid forgets his library book, she'll roll her eyes and say to the librarian, "Typical." Her thinking is that she is preparing them for middle school and for life when they have to be responsible. She says she is not the coddling type. But, like I said, she does have her fans. I'm sure if a student keeps a nice desk and does everything he/she is supposed to, no problem. My son is not perfect, I fully know that. He makes careless errors with math and doesn't turn in the neatest papers. Maybe her attitude toward him is more disgust or frustration than supportive or guiding. And he does not react well to that. He stops trying to please and shuts out.

    I just had a nice, calm chat with him before bed. He doesn't want us to go to talk to her or to the principal. (She has him wrapped around her finger, she has been in the school much longer than he, and I think she wanted to be principal when he got the job. I also think she might come down hard on him if we say anything to her or to the principal, which would send things into a death spiral.)

    What kinds of things can I talk to him about that could lead him out of his black/white, love/hate and nothing-in-between state of mind?
     
  8. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    Feb 23, 2015

    This post could have been posted by a parent of a 4th grader that I know. This child hasn't made a connection with the teacher. It's hard, but, in this situation the child also isn't doing her part. Homework isn't being turned despite conversations with both her & her mom.

    Tell your son to do his part and it's only for a year.
     
  9. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

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    Feb 23, 2015

    Not sure I have much advice but the good news is there's only a few more months of school! I would tell him just to do his best for HIM and not for the teacher. My brother had a teacher like that in elementary school. When a student didn't have a pen or pencil she would tell them to either borrow one or write in blood! I have no idea how she lasted 30 years at that school LOL Good luck!
     
  10. GemStone

    GemStone Habitué

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    Feb 24, 2015

    Does he face any consequences at home for refusing to work in school? If my kids pulled that, their home lives would be on lockdown - grounding, no TV, no games, etc.

    It's only going to get worse as he gets to middle school because he will have 7 teachers every day, and he probably will have a couple he doesn't like.
     
  11. Topsy

    Topsy Rookie

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    Feb 24, 2015

    GemStone - Your post actually led me to a revelation. Not about consequences, but about my son's disposition...

    In my original post, I should clarify that he doesn't NOT do his work. He is simply miserable because of the tone she sets in the classroom. He does his assignments, plods (and I mean PLODS)through homework and projects, but he is not inspired to/about learning. He doesn't care about doing his best, making connections or being creative. He is in survival mode, wants to fly under her radar, but silently seethes and checks out as a defense mechanism.

    She probably sees this as disrespect and it probably affects how they interact with each other (which from his point of view, the less they have to do with each other, the better).

    And yes, earlier in the year, yes, or course, there were consequences for dragging his heels with school work, no leisure until all work is done to a satisfactory level.

    What I realize about my boy is that he, at this point, has one "bucket" as far as school. Everything about school goes into it: his feelings about his teacher, the building itself, the idea (and ideals) of school, the importance of hard work, his feelings for different subjects, his future in school, etc.

    His feelings for his teacher are a hole in this bucket and it is draining it dry. I have to somehow teach him to separate all the components of school into separate cups, so that even if his "teacher" cup is dry, it doesn't empty the whole bucket.

    The way he is now, if I present this analogy to him, he might just reject the whole thing, or "kick the whole bucket across the room." I have to make sure all his other buckets are filled, his happy buckets: the well-fed bucket, the well-rested bucket, the life-is-good bucket. That also means not being so restrictive, not tying his school bucket too closely to his other buckets.

    I have to help him detach emotionally from his teacher without detaching from his efforts or his feelings about the subjects.

    But the teacher is SUCH a big part of the experience.... and round in circles I go again....

    this is helping, though, so thank you all!
     
  12. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    Feb 24, 2015

    Teachers have kids that have the same kinds of problems, and I can only tell you how I had to handle a similar situation. My son and teacher were no better off than your son, but instead of buying into "the teacher is no good, she hates me so I hate her" song and dance, we made two decisions. First and foremost, you can learn much about how NOT to treat others when stuck with a teacher that makes you grind your teeth - it is a painful growing process that will finally yield good results in ways he hasn't been able to consider yet.

    Our second decision was to do EVERYTHING that the teacher asked, no matter how lame or annoying, with gusto and a smile. That is where I got deeply involved, making games out of finding ways to go above the minimum, to show that he was prepared and not slacking. In truth, the two never became a great fit, but the lessons learned about how you want to be treated and how you translate that into good ways to treat others have lasted a very long time. The sad truth is that we don't always get to choose our teachers, neighbors, or coworkers, so leaning to deal with those people who annoy us is a life skill. You can help him to understand that he has helped create this relationship, and his lack of enthusiasm or initiative may irritate the teacher, but the only person who will ultimately suffer by him "checking out" is himself. By not taking ownership of his responsibilities in this relationship, he may be setting himself up to take the easy way out when the going gets tough later in his life. I am not taking the teacher's side - but we can't expect that we will always get to choose the most popular or gifted teacher, and sometimes you have to change how you are presenting to that teacher you don't like. If you can get him to truly change his input, then it may be time to reach out to the teacher and bring the positive changes to her attention. Most people react positively to true effort by the other individual.

    Changing classes at this point is probably a moot point, but seeing the big picture will serve him in good stead through a long lifetime. Parents sometimes have to admit that life isn't always fair, but you can usually find something poitive in the most dire of consequences. Your job is to be his trail guide on this excursion. Best wishes and best of luck.
     
  13. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Feb 24, 2015

    Were this the beginning of the year, I'd say request a teacher change and save personality conflict resolution tacticts for another time. Those are vital, vital skills.

    But... this is the downhill part of the school year. I wouldn't ask your son to love his teacher or even list her good points, just ask to put school first. Do the work. Suffer through. He can have that horrible 5th grade story for as long as he wants, but his job is to be the student.
     
  14. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Fanatic

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    Feb 26, 2015

    :agreed:
     

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