Am I not being sensitive to her "special needs"?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Teacheraa, Mar 18, 2009.

  1. Teacheraa

    Teacheraa Rookie

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    Mar 18, 2009

    (Im a student teacher), One student has difficulty writing ( she is a low achiever in general). She is not an EL student (she is 7) . She will sit and stare. Her teacher will do all sorts of things to accomodate to her so that at the end she just sat there while most everything is dictated to her. Im fed up with her, I really am starting to believe shes just lazy. Why cant she just write something and ask how to spell a word she doesnt know like everyone else? Im sick of sitting there and practically doing her whole paper for her. Im wearing thin on patience. I already got testy with her (which she whines and cries about) and I dont want to explode.

    If she were really in my very own class I would be stricter with her and demand that she do something-even stay in during reccess to finish. I would not put up with her whining and pouting. But the teacher seems to be more understanding with her and just accomodates to her. Theres not much I can do- but i am fed up and dont even want to help her!

    Tell me if you think Im thinking wrong here...
     
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  3. Historygeek

    Historygeek Companion

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    Mar 18, 2009

    I understand your frustration but I am very disturbed by some of your statements -
    "I'm fed up with her"
    "I'm wearing thin on patience"
    "I am fed up and don't even want to help her"
    "I would not put up with her whining and pouting"

    This child is 7 years old!! Maybe there is something else going on here - could there possibly be some form of autisim that has not been diagnosed? (her staring and not responding for example)

    I am not teaching yet, but as much as I want to empathize with your situation it is a little hard because of the obvious attitude you have with this child. Maybe you should talk with the teacher about this child, she may have some insight you are not aware of. I think that at this young age you really have to be careful that your frustrations do not influence the way you treat this child.

    Good luck!
     
  4. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    Mar 18, 2009

    Say that often enough to a middle school student and I bet you can get them to break down in tears.

    You have my sympathy. It can be difficult dealing with children. However, I think you should be assuming you're dealing with limited information here.
     
  5. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    If the teacher is providing accommodations, they are obviously needed. You need to ask the teacher what strategies you can use to help this student succeed.
     
  6. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Or break out in some very colourful language!

    I work with a group of boys who have heard this message for a very long time; they are pretty well convinced that they aren't much good for anything.
     
  7. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    Mar 18, 2009

    As a student teacher, are you privvy to confidential information? The child may have a documented learning disability. She might have a horrible home situation and tries for special attention from the teacher. Is she painfully shy? Is she not on grade level? It could be any number of things that you don't know about.

    You need to speak with your co-op teacher. I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that maybe you're just having a really bad day. But if this is the way that you feel the majority of the time - maybe you need to think about another career. I can pretty much promise you that not every child is going to be like everyone else and every year, there's a child in different/difficult circumstances who is not always going to do what you want them to do.
     
  8. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    You have just described my youngest son, who's 6 years old and has Cerebral Palsy. I would be very careful what you say...you don't know who's toes you may be stepping on. If I was that child's mother and heard you say that, I would be in your department chair or dean's office that same day.
     
  9. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    I understand your frustration. It is sometimes hard to know the motivation behind what students do. On one hand we could have a learning disability and she is trying her best and potentially avoiding it because it is too hard. On the other hand we could have learned helplessness. I can see where it is sometimes hard to know. I recommend, however, that you watch a video by Rick Lavoie called, "F.A.T. City Workshop: How Difficult Can it Be?" (Frustration, Anxiety and Tension). It's not a recent video. I found it in our library. He does a simulation on "regular adults" and within 6 minutes they start showing some of the same things you see kids with learning disabilities do. I'm not saying she has one, but it will open your eyes a bit. I highly recommend it. I show it to others whenever I have the chance.
     
  10. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    That's an excellent video cut, and I reccomend it to every person who works with people in any capacity, but especially with children.
     
  11. Crzy_ArtTeacher

    Crzy_ArtTeacher Comrade

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    Mar 18, 2009

    I would take a step back from the situation and think about what could be causing the child to act this way. I guarantee at 7 years old they most likely aren't doing it to get a rouse out of you.

    While it may be 'frustrating' as a teacher we are there to teach to multiple learners whatever type they may be. This child sounds like they may have more going on than what meets the eye. If I were you I'd discuss the situation with your Mentor teacher and try to come together to resolve this problem.
     
  12. adventuresofJ

    adventuresofJ Comrade

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    Mar 18, 2009

    I finished student teaching recently - but I was given access to modifications and what they had been diagnosed with. Maybe speak to her other teachers and see what mods they do for her or ask how you can better help her because what you're seeing doesn't seem to be helping.

    I do believe that teachers can be enablers of lazy behavior. I have a few parents who do. They keep their children from learning how to control their actions and find ways that work for them to be responsible. But if you do not have all the information - as frustrating as it can be - there isnt much you can do.
     
  13. CanukTeacher

    CanukTeacher Comrade

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    I completely agree with everyone that we need to be sensitive and do our best to meet students needs.

    However, I think we are also all allowed to be frustrated. I can't think of a teacher who at SOME point hasn't said something that could get them in hot water behind closed doors.

    I think the advice to talk to your teacher about it is very wise.
     
  14. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    Mar 18, 2009

    Teacheraa,

    I reviewed your posts, and it seems like you've become frustrated with your students quite a bit. This could be illusory because you may only post your frustrations here, but if you feel yourself that it's common for you then you might consider thinking about your feelings and how you're reacting to the students.

    While she may have some disability, I'm going to go out on a limb and say it doesn't actually matter whether she does or not. What matters is whether doing something will be effective in changing her behavior. Even if it is laziness, you should be working on that just as you would any lack of knowledge. And unless getting emotional will help, you shouldn't get emotional.

    Becoming frustrated in your situation is a bit self-centered. That sounds a bit harsh, but I don't mean it to be. We are all self-centered much of the time, so I don't think you're a bad person or bad teacher for it. However, I think you can be better if you learn to selectively give up some of that self-centeredness.
     
  15. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    I was just going to say the same thing as you said in your second paragraph 3Sons...

    Let's assume it is laziness. How are you going to get this student motivated? This is a discussion to have with your teacher. "What ideas do you have for motivating this student to do her best?" These are the questions we ask as teachers every day, and it can get VERY frustrating, and sometimes we don't have the answers, but that's what support staff are for. As a teacher, if I have a problem with a student and I am at my wit's end, I'll go to another staff member, perhaps someone who has had the student before, or maybe even someone who I know is very skilled in dealing with students of this type... and I will ask them for advice.

    Get used to asking the hard question of yourself: "How can I get this student to learn?" You've got many years of that ahead!
     
  16. Teacheraa

    Teacheraa Rookie

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    She is not autistic in the least. She is a very spirited and happy child. She hasnt been diagnosed with anything official. She comes up with great ideas to write and then sits there. Unless u take her through each word, it wont get written. Is it my job to do that? Do I have time to do that? Is it wrong to expect some effort from her?
     
  17. Crzy_ArtTeacher

    Crzy_ArtTeacher Comrade

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    It is your job, you make time, and no it isn't.
     
  18. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    I'm sorry that you're frustrated with this child, but the phrases that HistoryGeek pointed out, jumped out at me as well. This won't be the last student you have like this, and if you are going to take this attitude with every child that is "lazy" or unmotivated, then maybe you should reconsider the career. There has to be some way that you can work with her to get her to write. Have you tried rewarding her for writing? If she has x amount done in 5 minutes she can have 5 minutes of free time.
     
  19. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    On a side note...I recently (as in Monday) discovered how to get my CP 6yo 1st grader to actually write....

    He now does all of his written work on the floor. I'm not sure why this works, but it does, so I'm not complaining. Sometimes you just have to think outside the box.
     
  20. nayelismom

    nayelismom Rookie

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    Sorry. This is long but...


    I have a student like that. I honestly believe that he has a condition called dysgraphia but our district does not test for this and I have to try and persuade the parent's to do it with their family doctor. My student is highly intelligent. He is failing almost every subject because he doesn't do his assignments. Even copying something of the board is a task for him. He writes sort of messy and presses down super hard with his pencil which in turn makes his hand hurt. If he is writing something from a prompt, he can't. I'll ask him what he is thinking about and he will tell me, but he can't write it without me helping him along...one word at a time. I know that it's frustrating but these children don't do it on purpose.

    I might mention that he received "commended" status (90% or higher) on our state reading test last week. Every single district assessment and my own assessment given....he failed it! I think he felt the pressure PLUS I had to get him a small group accommodation where he was only testing with three other students. He would often tell me that other students talking while he was trying to work made him "nervous". During complex assignments, I move him right outside the door where he can't be distracted.

    These are things that teachers have to do. Whatever you have to do to make these students succeed. Also, make the parents aware of what is going on. Sometimes they can give you a lot of information and insight on this child.

    Check out these websites on dysgraphia:

    http://www.as.wvu.edu/~scidis/dysgraphia.html

    http://www.ncld.org/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=468
     
  21. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

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    When I was a "new, young" teacher I had some issues with some children. I think it takes time to learn about all types of children and to become comfortable dealing with all types, behaviours, etc. As we gain experience, we also develop some tolerance for more situations.
     
  22. glitterfish

    glitterfish Comrade

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    I think everyone is making some valid points here. HOWEVER, if this child was in my classroom, I would certainly hold high expectations for her and expect her to do the work. Yes, she may need some guidance and certainly should receive it, but if she simply doesn't do the work at all, that's not acceptable. First, I would try to figure out if it is a motivation issue. If so, I would begin by setting up a system of writing for her. I have a child with autism in my class who will get rewarded with a token for every sentence he writes. He gets computer time at home for receiving tokens in class. If this doesn't work, I would simply take the paper away and say, "since you're not doing this right now, you and I will work on it during your recess time." I don't support taking away their free time and exercise, but I imagine if it's simply a problem of no motivation, then that should motivate her to get moving. I mean, you can't just let her get away with doing no work. Of course, I do understand what others have said in that there could be much more information surrounding this child that you should investigate. As a teacher, however, you simply cannot allow her to do nothing. To me, that's just enabling her to NOT learn.
     
  23. glitterfish

    glitterfish Comrade

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    As a side note, we should all be encouraging the poster of this thread in her/his teaching. Since we're speaking about sensitivity with this child, let's be sensitive of someone who's asking us a question and needs our help, just like our students do. I was taken aback that anyone would raise the thought of her changing professions. Would you ever say something like that to a child? "Oh, it looks like you have a negative attitude about writing right now because you're really frustrated, Sue. Have you ever considered just doing something else? Might as well give up!":unsure:
     
  24. ozteach

    ozteach Comrade

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    I was thinking this too. Don't expect to know everything, it's normal to feel really frustrated with kids. Don't expect to be perfect, give it time and you'll develop knowledge and understanding of kids.
     
  25. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    I agree with this too. We do have to be sensitive to the child and look at their motivation and why they are doing the things they do but we also can't create a learned helplessness state either. It's a fine balance because many kids WILL shut down to avoid what they often know they can't do and won't try it because they would rather be bad than embarrassed. We do have to encourage children in different ways depending on their need and motivation. At the same time we have to make sure the child knows we expect them to work. I might not expect the same kind of work from this child as I do from another child. I might applaud their efforts a little more often even if it is not on grade level. At the same time, the child IS expected to work.

    If the CT has been doing it this way all year, it is unlikely you will be able to change it. You are the "outsider" even though you aren't supposed to be and she will resist change because this way coddles her.

    You also may not have seen what the child was like when she first came. Ask the CT to share her progress with you from the beginning of the year until now if she can. We have a student who at the beginning of the year was shutting down, not writing a single thing because she knew it wasn't good enough and basically having behavior problems every single time we did a writing assignment. The teacher decided that this year there would be less focus on perfecting the mechanics and more focus on getting her to enjoy the process. With TONS of motivation and praise for even the smallest things, you will now see her sometimes balking at first still but when she gets into the swing of things she will produce a few sentences. It isn't close to what her peers are doing but for her it is huge progress. She is experimenting and coming out of her shell. It took a teacher who stopped focusing on what she couldn't do and focused mostly on what she could do. This teacher plays it to a hilt every time someone visits the classroom. She shows pride in the student. The student, as a result, is starting to show pride in herself.

    We have to have high expectations but we also need high motivation. Sometimes it is tricky to meld the two and sometimes people overcompensate. It happens. You will learn as you go through these experiences how to get what you want from each of the students. What a fantastic topic!
     
  26. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    How is this student when sharing ideas orally? Is she able to tell you the answers or what she wants to write? If she is strong orally, one thing I would suggest is trying to scribe for her. Have her tell you her answer or her story and you write it down verbatim. Her job will then be to copy what you have written, putting her words in her writing. Some students have wondeful ideas, but hit a block putting them to paper. Some become so consumed with not knowing how to start or get hung up on not knowing how to spell a word and they don't get anything done. This may help you to determine a little more specifically where the difficulty lies and, although you are providing support, you are still requiring the student to provide the responses you are looking for.
     
  27. txmomteacher2

    txmomteacher2 Enthusiast

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    My daughter is a very spirited happy child who ABSOLUTELY hates to write. Granted she is only in kindergarten and they have just begun writing their own sentences. My first year teaching I spent every morning helping a student write at least 3 sentences in his journal. Did I enjoy this painfully difficult task. No! But did i do it, yes. Like other posters have said if you may need to look at a different career if this one student is making you feel this frustrated.
     
  28. clarnet73

    clarnet73 Moderator

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    I was oding an LTS in preschool... and the kids were expected to "sign in" every day as they came in... lots of the kids COULD write their names well, others were just making scrobbles. Several of the kids would pull the "I can't" attitude... we would let some of them trace their name (we'd do it in yellow highlighter or marker) while they got their confidence... then we might have them writ the first letter and trace the rest, until they got up to trying their whole name. Some were anxious to do it simply because they wanted to do it "right"...

    Perhaps that gives you something useful?
     
  29. nayelismom

    nayelismom Rookie

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    I LOVE this idea! I'm going to try it with MY student!
     
  30. leighbball

    leighbball Virtuoso

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    Mar 19, 2009

    teacheraa-

    I don't know what grade you are student teaching in, but here are some things I do for my writers. They have a book of words that have sight words and spelling words written in them. This helps the children when they get stuck on how to spell a word.

    I've also had children orally tell a story and record it on a tape recorder (I have an old school one from when I was little) and then the kid plays it back and writes it down from there (I let the child use headphones so it doesn't disturb the others). I've also used a variety of graphic organizers to get the kids to put down as much of their ideas down on paper as possible before beginning the story.

    You have every right to be frustrated because especially if you are working one on one with this child everyday, it gets stressful. I do agree with mm that I wouldn't want to here you speaking about my child that way (so just be careful about that). I think your stress may also come from the fact that you do have to follow what your co-op says and she isn't handling it the way you would. But I hope you are able to use this as a learning experience for when you have your own classroom. You'll find lots of kids like this...don't give up on them. They need you!
     

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