Any advice on changing daughter's teacher?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by jazzminjoy, Aug 4, 2007.

  1. jazzminjoy

    jazzminjoy Comrade

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    Aug 4, 2007

    I'm writing as a parent. School started Monday, July 30th. My youngest daughter began 8th grade. That night, I read the "Welcome" letter to parents from the history teacher. It was riddled with spelling, word usage, and grammatical errors, had the wrong year in the date, and did not include the teacher's name in the closing. I stopped counting just the spelling and grammatical errors once I reached 15. I was appalled and wrote a note back on the separate signature sheet that I would meet the teacher during Back to School night on Thursday. I gave a heads-up that I was considering transferring my daughter to another class.

    The Back to School night consists of parents having only 10 minutes per period. During this time, the parents sit at the student desks and the teacher gives a semi-formal presentation to the parents. This history teacher was not done with the group from the previous period. He was slowly going over self-explanatory rules which were displayed from his PowerPoint to a video screen, one rule at a time. Instead of letting the parents quickly read them, he talked about each one. He went about 5 minutes over time. That meant that our group only had 5 minutes. Of course he didn't finish on time. I left for the next class when the bell rang.

    Before and during the presentation, he was quite rude and arrogant. He said that he was the empiror of the class. There was no democracy here. He was not going to cover geography because that isn't on the STAR (state) testing, so even though geography is important to US History (at least he conceded that), he wasn't going to teach it. I felt very uncomfortable while there. My instincts told me this was not a good teacher for my daughter.

    Instead of going to the Physical Education period, I visited the other US History teacher. She also taught the class 4th period, the same as which my daughter has it. She was wonderful. Her first words were "I love history" and "I love teaching!" She would be covering geography as it relates to history. She was enthusiastic, cheerful, and very positive. She had many years teaching experience and had mentored my favorite teacher in the school.

    On Friday, I left a voice mail message with the principal telling him I wanted my daughter switched to the other teacher, but I did not explain why. I said the purpose was not to disparge a teacher, but to get the best education available for my daughter. The principal called back, but he did not leave a message. I was subbing that afternoon, so was not using my cell phone.

    My 12-year-old daughter is upset that I want to change teachers. She has adjusted to this teacher and has completed a lot of homework for his class. It might be easier if I had her support, but that will not deter me.

    What if the principal states that he will not transfer my daughter to the other teacher? What are my options? Do you have any advice, either as a teacher or a parent?

    Thank you.
     
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  3. MsWK

    MsWK Habitué

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    Aug 4, 2007

    There are crummy teachers and there are great teachers... and unfortunately your daughter has one of the former. She will survive. If there's nothing life-threatening going on, I wouldn't make a fuss. It will probably be harder for your daughter to switch classes than it will be to endure a crummy teacher for a year. It's only one class.
     
  4. LuvTchng

    LuvTchng Companion

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    Aug 4, 2007

    Trasnferring students to different classes can be a sticky ordeal. The principals I've worked with have only done this in cases where there were severe personality and/or other conflicts between the parent and teacher.
    Have you spoken to your daughter about why she is so reluctant to switch classes? Could it be that she likes the teacher she has and is learning a lot from him? How are her grades? I had a similar problem this past schoolyear. I was actually planning to transfer my son to another school to get him out of the teacher's class but he asked me to let him stick it out. I agreed and he did alright (though at times I wished I'd moved him as planned). I recommend arranging a one-on-one conference with him to tactfully voice some of your concerns.
     
  5. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    I know that my principal always refuses to change students to other teachers--period. If you are unable to get her changed, have you considered setting up a conference with her current teacher to discuss your concerns. Could you maybe go up to the school to "observe him in action"? Remember that your goal is the best education for your child--as long as the content is covered, the teacher doesn't have to have the best personality. We all have to learn to deal with people we don't mesh with.
     
  6. La Profesora

    La Profesora Cohort

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    Take all your evidence to the principal (and you certainly have enough!) and do the switch ASAP. As an administrator, I couldn't think of an argument I would have against switching UNLESS the other class were overly crowded. If she is unreasonable and you decide to push it, you can go to the superintendent. I absolutely would make this change and not settle if I didn't have to. when all these problems are blatantly apparent when you are there and watching (as a parent) imagine what takes place behind your back..... uh oh.
     
  7. CarrieB

    CarrieB Companion

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    Wow, I'm just trying to imagine trying to teach US History without geography. That is virtually impossible. The first thing I do is a geography lesson to refresh their memories from 7th grade and remind them where the colonies, England, West Indies, etc. are. How do you teach Lewis and Clark without discussing their route? Or the Civil War without knowing where the North, South, and Border states are. You just can't do it.
     
  8. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

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    Aug 5, 2007

    The spelling and grammar alone are grounds for removing your child. I'd do it without a backward glance, and I think the principal should be told why, and shown the disgraceful letter.
     
  9. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    I would love to see the note the teacher sent home with all the
    mistakes. I have often heard of examples of them but never actually seen one. Could you scan it and post it here. I am just interested in how a teacher could pass on to parents something so revealing.
     
  10. Lesley

    Lesley Habitué

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    First, talk with your daughter. look at her work and papers he has sent home. Discuss with her why you are concerned, let her respond and get her opinion. Ask her why she wants to stay in the class, is she learning or just does not want to be embarrassed? Your job is to insure that your children receive the best education possible. Sit in on a class-both the teacher you want and the one you want to leave, compare them. One of my son's teachers came across as fantastic during open house, but turned out to be the worst educator I have encountered. Bad enough that I pulled my son out of school to home school him. If you believe after visiting both rooms that your daughter will be better off moving her, then DO IT! Push until it happens and make sure they know why! And make copies of the letter and any notes for your file and theirs. Good Luck.
     
  11. JaimeMarie

    JaimeMarie Moderator

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    I agree. I know I am terrible at writing. I always have at least two people edit my letters before sending it home. That said sometimes the best teachers stink at writing, but after your description of him on parents night it sounds like he is a you know what.
     
  12. collteach

    collteach Comrade

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    Aug 5, 2007

    My sister had an ENGLISH teacher in middle school who sent home a letter full of errors. My mom, who is goofy and a teacher, thought that it MUST be a test...so she had my sister go through and help her point out all of the errors. They circled them and made corrections and my sister took it back in to the teacher!!! :) :) Later that day, my mom got a phone call from the teacher. The woman was VERY rude and thought that my mom was being condescending by sending that letter back. My mom, who is the nicest person you will meet, tried to explain that since it was an 8th grade ENGLISH class, she truly thought that the letter was a joke or "test". Turns out, this woman was truly dreadful when it came to spelling/grammar/mechanics. My mom wanted my sister out of the class, but there were some novels and projects that they were going to work on that my sister was excited about, so they decided to stick it out. Thankfully, it turned out that this teacher was not a bad teacher at all. You could tell that every note home after that first one was carefully planned out and proofread! My mom monitored all of my sister's writing assignments to be sure that the teacher was teaching and evaluating what she should be. It all turned out fine....especially since the other English teacher ended up being a basket case that quit halfway through the year!
     
  13. Pencil Monkey

    Pencil Monkey Devotee

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    Aug 5, 2007

    Go to the principal or counselor and ask for a transfer to the other teacher's class if you truly feel that uncomfortable. I do agree that Geography is important to US history.
    On the other hand your daughter might learn more from this teacher than just history. It sounds as though his personality is set on learning more than the essentials to pass.
     
  14. teachmemath

    teachmemath Companion

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    Aug 5, 2007

    I agree that you should observe both teachers. You get a sense of what is going on daily in those classes. Also on the flip side maybe that teacher was rushing the letter out and he didn't have time to check for errors...he didn't even sign his name. Also were there spelling errors/grammar errors on the powerpoint presentation?? And you don't want a teacher where the kids will run all over him/her...at least you know his rules and that he is strict. They will actually learn something without the interruptions.
     
  15. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    Aug 5, 2007

    You have quite a laundry list, if you can pull it off transfer your daughter.
    All of the things you listed in total are a good reason but by themselves I say no.
    In fact I like the "He said that he was the emperor of the class. There was no democracy here."
    I say my classroom is a benevolent dictatorship.

    As far as "He was not going to cover geography because that isn't on the STAR (state) testing, so even though geography is important to US History (at least he conceded that), he wasn't going to teach it." it is a sad commentary upon what NCLB has done to us. Think about it, if YOU are being evaluated in Math are you going to do Art on the day you are being evaluated? I mean we are not allowed to teach to the whole child anymore. He maybe teaching only a percentage of the subject matter but if his students score 100% on it it looks like, well, 100% but if he teaches all the subject matter and his students know 100% on geography and score 80% on the history (in class the students will carry a about 85%) On the test they will score about a 80% he does not look as good.


    Disclaimer: all percents are just pulled out of a hat
     
  16. cmgeorge626

    cmgeorge626 Companion

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    Aug 5, 2007

    I don't know how it is in CA, but in TX parents have a right to choose their child's teacher. This is a little known fact and most principals aren't big on advertising it. That said, if your daughter doesn't want to switch classes maybe it's not worth all the fuss. Sometimes kids get embarrassed when a parent gets involved like that. However, I applaude you for your interest in your child's education!
     
  17. nancyb

    nancyb Companion

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    Aug 5, 2007

    If it doesn't work out for you to switch teachers, keep in mind that even bad experiences can be valuable learning lessons. My grown sons had their share of lousy teachers (in terms of academics and/or personality), but they got through it just fine, and learned the material in spite of it all. Plus, they gained some experience in how to deal with difficult people, which we know will happen all throughout our lifetimes! And, more than once, they ended up liking/respecting the same teachers they hated at first!
     
  18. willsgirl

    willsgirl Comrade

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    Aug 5, 2007

    I have been tempted at times to request a transfer but later thought better of it. My sons have, over the years, had a few teachers that were not what I considered "good" teachers. Some were fine teachers that one or both of them didn't get along with but we made the boys get along with the teacher and not provide then with a way out. We always left them in the assigned class and they quickly learned how to deal with a variety of situations -- both good and bad -- and they are the better for the experience. My younger son will have an English teacher this year who does not like teaching juniors (she's a 'senior' teacher in every respect) and he has been warned by other son that she'll be hard and crabby. But, I know her personally and she is an excellent teacher and I know will treat my son fairly. And, I can communicate with her. My son will just need to learn how to work with her, just like he will with college professors, employers, and every one else. Mom and Dad won't always be around to fix things for the kids when they grow up. :2cents:

    PS WHen they've been placed with a teacher who does not appear to know her/his content, we have worked on enrichment at home (which is really a family, ongoing process around here) to help hit the areas that are not covered or covered poorly.
     
  19. jazzminjoy

    jazzminjoy Comrade

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    Aug 5, 2007

    Thank you so much for your time and replies!

    Here are clarifications and additional information.

    1. School has only been in session 5 days. Of course I would like my daughter transferred to the other teacher asap. Doing so this early in the year should be seamless.

    2. I already did the "homework" of meeting both teachers. My decision is made.

    3. The reasons my daughter gave for not wanting to switch is that she has already adjusted to the teacher and has done homework for his class. I suspect the "unknown" is often scarey, and that she is a bit embarrassed.

    4. The "Welcome" letter home is the first introduction that parents have to the teacher. He should know that first impressions are important. Even if he is a poor writer, he could have at least spent a moment to run his letter through a spell-checker. If he could not care enough to do that simple thing early on, my feeling is that he is burning out.

    5. I don't want a teacher who teachers strictly to the test and omits all the other things that make the subject interesting and provides a well-rounded understanding of the content. A teacher should perhaps emphasize the test elements, but he should not omit the rest simply because "it's not on the test, so why bother?"

    6. I want a teacher who is mindful of the time of others and who at least tries to give the impression of being organized. If he kept parents waiting for half the open house time allotted, then I suspect when there are no grown-ups around, he is even worse.

    7. My older daughter had this teacher for the last quarter of 8th grade four years ago. She says that he was a good teacher and made the subject interesting. So, in the teacher's defense, I will say that at one time he was a good teacher.

    8. I prefer to just quietly switch my daughter to the other teacher. My goal is that she receives the best education available. I don't want to disparage the current teacher. He's tenured and his short-comings are not enough for academic discipline anyway. If the principal says he has to put down a reason, I will tell him to write that I feel the other teacher is a better match for my daughter. However, if the principal is uncooperative, then I will have to "air the dirty laundry" and even go to the local Board of Education if need be.

    9. Sorry, I don't have a scanner. Here are some examples.
    "The first portion of the project will be the creatioon of a scarp book"..."The second part of the project is to wrtie a report based only in the information that your student has collect in their scrap book".

    10. School let out the first week of June, so the teacher had about 7 weeks to draft a letter.

    We are a high-achieving academic family. I have homeschooled my daughters on and off over the years. When he was alive, my husband home-educated a year while I worked. Both daughters are a grade above most students their ages. When the older returned to school in 2nd grade, she was so advanced that the teacher recommended her to the next grade, so she skipped 2nd. The younger one has a Dec. 22 birthday. We got around the rule to start K a year later by enrolling her in a private school for kindergarten. (They tested her and said she was advanced.)

    The older daughter just turned 16 (Aug. 3). She self-taught herself Calculus I over the summer and will be taking Calculus II at the community college. She is entering her senior year and taking 4 AP classes. (She took 3 last year and did very well on the exams.) Due to schedule conflicts, she can't take AP Spanish or Advanced Studio Art and wound up with a free first period. She is making arrangements with teachers and will meet with the principal on Monday to take an independent study Studio Art first period. She wants to build a portfolio of 29 pieces and submit them for AP Art credit. (From the AP site: "AP Studio Art is not based on a written examination; instead, students submit portfolios for evaluation at the end of the school year.") For two weeks this summer, she attended a symposium called "Exploring Physics Through Cosmology" at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab, which is operated by the University of California, Berkeley, and adjacent to the campus. The course was predominantly taught by the winner of the 2006 Nobel prize winner in Physics! This daughter has her heart set on attending UC Berkeley and being a math major.

    The younger daughter has a perfect 4.0 average. She is in Leadership and last year was on Yearbook. Enrollment in these courses is an honor. Teachers must recommend the student, and the student must submit an essay, answer a questionniare, and undergo interviews. She is in the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth program and took the SAT and ACT in 7th grade. She will take them again in January, 2008. She is very sweet, kind, and easy-going.
     
  20. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Aug 5, 2007

    I am mean and strict when it comes to this! I have no respect towards in competent and uneffective teachers or admins who support them. None, zip, zero! What I told my daughters AP: "I will do whatever is neccessary to insure my daughter has a proper education, period." Other parents may deal with them, but I don't. Principal's are scared of having to do with parents who will not give up, be firm and you'll get what you want.
     
  21. apple25

    apple25 Comrade

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    Aug 5, 2007

    How have things worked out for you? I can understand your viewpoint - you want the best for your kids, but it certainly brings back memories of parents correcting things that I've sent home :eek:

    I'm actually nervous each time I correct one of my student's papers/tests . . . her mom has written some notes back that have stayed with me for days. We're all human . . . mistakes will be made! The important thing is that we learn from our mistakes and try to become a better teacher. From the statement your daughter's teacher made about being a emperor (?? sorry - I can't check back for your exact wording), it makes it seem like he's not very open to communication.

    But, on the flip side, maybe he was nervous, and tried making a joke that fell flat.

    Did you let him know about all the errors in his welcome letter?

    I think you might be very perceptive in that the teacher may be experiencing burnout. Sometimes the workload that teachers are expected to carry is ridiculous. It could be that he was rushed for time and accidently sent out the draft copy of the letter, rather then a proofed one. Mistakes can happen, though I know that most of us try desperately to avoid them!!!

    Of course, as a parent, you need to watch out for your kids, and do what's best for them. That's the bottom line!!!
     
  22. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

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    I understand your viewpoint completely. Present the evidence, but I must say I feel bad for all the other students who have been placed in this teacher's class. What if more parents have the desire to switch? I hope everything can be fair, but I don't know if this situation will turn out fair for everyone in the end or not. I hope your child can be in the other teacher's class, but don't feel offended if she is not switched into that class.

    I was switched out of a few classes in high school because I could tell pretty much from the beginning I would be miserable. My mother was very blunt with the administration, and things worked out well because I got a teacher who worked better with my personality and work ethic. Either they were too pressuring or not challenging enough.

    Oh- and in order to give anything to parents at our school- we must bring the letter to administration first. That appalls me in itself.
     
  23. Lesley

    Lesley Habitué

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    I agree! I realize we are humans and no human is perfect. But the difference is how one deals with it. A mistake on a note home or a note to the teacher happens-but when there are many mistakes in one note one has to wonder. Then add on any personal meetings that are just not right-go with your gut. I will give a teacher the benefit of the doubt once or twice. But when things are consistently 'off' I make note and let them and admin know. Yes they can cringe when they see a voice mail/note from me, but if they would take care of the incompetent teachers and hire those who want to be in the classroom and are willing to work with kids and parents not one's who come across as 'knowing all' and are so high and mighty that they could never make a mistake or those who think they are teaching, but miss the mark. I worked with a principal last year who would not put up with bad incompetent teachers (she always tried to work with them first help them along the way), she would pull them out mid year, end of the year, whenever necessary, no matter how many years they had taught, because the education of those kids came way before support for a person who did not do the job-you know just like other places of employment. I thought it was a good idea.
     
  24. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Aug 6, 2007


    Then a HUGE RED light should go off in the minds of the administration... there's a problem with this teacher!!! This isn't about a teacher who is too strict, or about whose educational philosophy doesn't agree with that of the original poster. It's about one who is apparently illiterate, inconsiderate, and unwilling to teach more than the absolute minimum.
     
  25. jazzminjoy

    jazzminjoy Comrade

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    Aug 6, 2007

    Thank you so much for your input.

    Here is an update:

    The principal called and stated that the standard procedure that is in place is to first have a meeting of the 3 parties: the parent(s), teacher, and principal. We agreed on 2:00 tomorrow, but I explained that if a substitute teaching position came up, I would have to reschedule.

    The principal did mention that one problem is that there are only two US History teachers in the school. The 4th period for both of them is at 32 students. If the switch was made, one teacher would have 31 students and the other 33. I'm thinking a teacher could live with that and that CA does not have a maximum class size limit for 8th grade, but I may be wrong. (What if another 8th grade student enrolled in the school?)

    I just checked the subfinder (I work in the neighboring district) and accepted work for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. I left a voice message with the principal that we would have to reschedule and suggested 4:30 Tuesday or anytime Thursday. I expressed concern that if the change is made, it would be best to do it as soon as possible. I suggested perhaps just the principal and I meet initially to see where things stand and then that we take it from there.

    This matter is so important to me that if I didn't need the money from subbing so much, I would have turned down the job postings so that I could meet. However, one offer was a 2-day job and the other was with the same teacher. My income was greatly reduced over the summer, so I accepted the work.

    The principal and I were very cordial to each other, so that is a plus.
    When the 3 of us meet, I want to be friendly, but I also need to be firm. I'm not sure how to strike a balance.

    I'm hoping to avoid personally attacking the teacher by saying that our values are different. His top priorities are that students pass the state test and remain quiet in their seats. My top priorities are that students receive a well-rounded understanding of the subject and that the classroom is free of intimidation and fear so that students can comfortably ask questions and express opinions. I also believe a teacher should be kind, be mindful of others, possess basic writing skills, have love and great knowledge of the subject, and be able to teach it. Both teachers have knowledge, teaching skills, the desire for the students to pass the state test, and the ability to maintain a disciplined classroom. It's the other qualities that one teacher is lacking that concerns me.

    Thank you again. I'll keep you updated. Meanwhile, please feel free to continue to provide input. I greatly appreciate all of your posts.
     
  26. Lesley

    Lesley Habitué

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    Aug 6, 2007

    May I suggest that you write down the bullet points you want to make sure you mention. Read through your post here to make sure you do not forget anything. Take in the note that was sent home, it may embarrass him, but he should not have sent that home, period. Take the note and a pen in with you. Cross off or check off each point as you mention it to make sure you touch base with each concern. It will also allow you to jot down notes as the three of you discuss your concerns. If it were me, I would also mention, that if my child did stay in that class, I would not want the teacher to take a negative attitude toward my child due to my concerns and that if I believe that happened to be occurring, I call another conference asap. Good Luck.
     
  27. apple25

    apple25 Comrade

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    Aug 7, 2007

    Good luck with your meeting. I hope all will go well, and that everyone will be open and receptive to your concerns. Please tell us how everything goes!
     
  28. jazzminjoy

    jazzminjoy Comrade

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    Aug 10, 2007

    Hello all,

    I met with the principal and the teacher this week. Here is what I learned:

    1. The teacher is very much against "teaching to the test" and doesn't do it. He does teach all the state STANDARDS because he has to. I guess I misheard or misunderstood during his Back to School presentation.

    2. He does teach geography as it relates to history. However, he does not teach what most parents think of when geography is mentioned--a separate study involving memorization of place names, capitals, and so on.

    3. He still very much loves history.

    4. He is very firm at the start of the school year. As time goes on, he loosens up. (I agree with this stance.)

    5. He does promote a lot of interaction and discussion in the classroom. At the start of each period, students are quiet, in their seats, and working on answering the daily board questions. Then they discuss the answers. There are lots of times when discussions take place.

    6. I am welcome to observe any of his classes at any time (though he recommends, for my daughter's sake, not observing her class, and I agree). I can contact him at any time.

    7. He will relate what is going on with our government today with the lessons. For instance, he will talk about how the Patriot Acts and the President's recent executive actions are dissolving the Constitution when the class learns the Bill of Rights.

    8. He is a defender of the Constitution and individual rights. He is a member of the ACLU. (I don't agree with all the ACLU does, but at least I know where he stands.)

    9, The principal has worked with the teacher for many years. When his children reach 8th grade, he will place them in this teacher's class, if the guy is still teaching.

    10. The principal pops in on teachers all the time. He is always pleased to see a positive interchange occurring when he visits this history teacher's class.

    11. The teacher has been teaching many years and has a good retirement account. If he was burned out, he would retire without hesitation. He still very much enjoys teaching.

    12. He uses Clarissa Works(?) which does not have a built in spell-checker.

    13. One of his main goals is to get students to think and to be able to express arguments supporting their positions. He also wants students to know that, unlike math, there is often no one "right" answer.

    I did not want my daughter's teacher to be an illiterate, arrogant jerk who spends all the class time lecturing, and who does not seek students' input. And my daughter won't have that kind of teacher. Bottom line is that after talking to the teacher, I feel that he is a good teacher, so I am not going to switch my daughter. My daughter was extremely pleased when I told her. So, every one is happy.

    Thank you all so much for your opinions. You are wonderful!

    (I guess some teachers just don't do "parents" well. They relate a whole lot better to the students. Maybe they are still part "kid" themselves. Maybe that is what makes them exceptional teachers. Who knows?)

    With great appreciation,
    Michele (also known as jazzminjoy)
     
  29. mhcooley

    mhcooley Companion

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    Aug 10, 2007

    I am happy things worked out for you and your daughter. I was worried about it. I kept checking in to see what the updates were.:)
     
  30. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    Aug 10, 2007

    Michele I was going to say (when you first posted) first impressions are not always right and I think that is what happened here
    as for Clarissa Works (Claris Works?) if that is it, it's old old program for the Mac (pre MacOS X) ask the principal pay him more so he can afford a new computer with a new word prossing program.

    I am glad it worked out well.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2007
  31. Mrs. R.

    Mrs. R. Connoisseur

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    Aug 11, 2007

    It sounds like things are going to work out well. I'm glad for you and your daughter.

    BTW: ClarisWorks (which we used for years) does have a spell checker. Maybe he just doesn't know how to use it?
     
  32. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Aug 11, 2007

    I'm glad that things worked out well. It is often difficult to form an impression in the rush of a high school curriculum night. How positive for all of you that you were able to sit down and discuss your concerns and resolve them.
     
  33. cmgeorge626

    cmgeorge626 Companion

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    Aug 11, 2007

    I'm glad that things worked out. I often wish that more parents would come and meet with my colleagues and I before they rush to judgement or make rash decisions. Kudos to you!
     
  34. apple25

    apple25 Comrade

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    Aug 11, 2007

    I'm really glad that things worked out for you and your daughter. It sounds like it was a very good meeting. I admire you for standing up for what you care about, and taking the time to state your concerns - not all parents do that, and they should!!

    Hope the year will be a success for your daughter!!
     

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