So many notes

Discussion in 'General Education' started by giraffe326, Sep 26, 2014.

  1. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    from parents! Ugh! I get about 5 handwritten and at least 5 more emails. Everyday. I'm going nuts!! (This is purely what is in my head right now. Basically a vent. I'm not really angry- more of a feeling of incredulity. That many of you can probably relate to!!)

    Many of them are "My child does not understand math. Is there tutoring available?" Well, every single parent I get these notes from has a child that is never on task, and possibly even causes disruptions. My response to them is basically "Your child is not paying attention. At all. [(S)he is actually impeding the math lesson on a daily basis] Once they start paying attention, it will come easier to them. If they are still struggling, I'll work with you to find help." (Obviously I don't say that, but in a flowery way, that is the nutshell.) I got an email after school today from one of my biggest behavior problem's parents. "He just doesn't understand. Please call me." Oh boy. I can't wait until Monday. She will be getting, "Well, he has yet to take out a piece of paper or even crack open his book. I remind him a dozen times a day, but he refuses. He is too busy trying to catch [girlfriend]'s attention and pass notes to her."

    I normally hate this kind of stuff. I hate confrontation, I hate contacting parents about behavior. Hate it. But I am at my wits end with some of these kids. I started using Class Dojo this week, so I've been throwing that in my responses. "Please check their Class Dojo to see exactly how they've behaving in class."

    Of course, once I respond back this way, I never hear from them again. And their child's behavior doesn't improve.

    I'm so tired of spending all of my planning every day responding to these notes! Ridiculous!

    My favorite- I have a kid with an 89.4%. Math is admittedly his worst subject. He participates in class, is always on task, wonderful kid. He struggles mainly with the word problems or with applying a skill to a different situation. I'm not worried about him in any way. I get a note "Billy is struggling with math. Can you please sit down with him 1 on 1 to go over things?" Sure. Not a problem. I only have 34 kids in my class that can't behave when I'm directly monitoring them, much less carrying on a conversation. Even worse when my attention is focused elsewhere. Half are failing because they won't do work. I have 100 minutes to teach both math and social studies. Plenty of time to sit down 1:1 with your child. Who understands.

    I have to follow the math book in order- per directives from above. It starts with algebra. Algebra. Seriously? First thing?! (Note- I really hadn't paid attention to 6th grade Common Core math. Holy. Freaking. Cow. This is ridiculous! I learned this in 6th, but I was in advanced honors math- two years ahead!!! This was 8th grade math when I was in school. And I graduated in this millennium!)
    I tried seeing if I could sneak around, but every chapter refers back to this. I'd have to pull all of my own resources- which is also forbidden. This is a new math adoption- their first in 17 years. Therefore this is my Bible. Per administration.
     
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  3. teach1

    teach1 Companion

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    Sep 26, 2014

    :eek:hmy: i hope i read the tone of this message incorrectly. are you saying that you are annoyed by a concerned parent who asked you to help her son? a "wonderful" student that listens and works hard but just needs extra support with a few things?:dizzy:

    isn't that your job? i'm sorry you are having a tough year, and I agree with you about the notes from parents whose children are not listening. but it's your job to help students who want to learn
     
  4. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    Sep 26, 2014

    This is harsh.

    I think the OP's point is that the student has an 89% and the teacher has a limited amount of time. An 89% is fine. Teachers cannot meet 1 on 1 to help every student whose parents ask, every time. Does that mean that she should absolutely not meet with the student? No, but a judgement on the choice to prioritize which students need additional support (i.e., the ones who are really struggling) should not be made so quickly.
     
  5. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    Sep 26, 2014

    I agree. Would we like to meet with every single student 1:1? Sure, but there aren't unlimited hours of teaching time each day, especially when a class is as large as giraffe's are.

    Giraffe - I feel your pain. I had an unusually frustrating week with parent e-mails...
     
  6. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    Sep 27, 2014

    I can relate to this post a lot! :hugs:

    This drives me nuts! Your kid would get it if they were listening!

    I do think that part of the issue is large class sizes. I am constantly redirecting and frustrated with about 8 kids who just need to be in a classroom where they can get more attention. I wish parents would advocate more on that end of things - at the school level - rather than ask for more individual help for their own student when their kid is in a class of 34 kids. Teachers can only do so much. If class sizes were smaller, students would get more individual help in class.
     
  7. teach1

    teach1 Companion

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    I wasn't trying to be harsh - just honest. IMO, part of being a teacher is helping ALL students, not just students who are "really struggling." To this particular student, an 89% IS really struggling. OP said math is their worst subject. OP identified two specific areas the student needs to improve. I think that student deserves their fair amount of 1:1 attention. This is a student whose behavior never takes away any time from the teacher (which cannot be said of many others in the class).

    Basically, my point is that I think teachers need to divide their time as evenly as possible. Why should a hard working student have to settle for an 89% if they would like to try harder and LEARN and get that A? Why should the students who are focusing on non-academics and being disruptive get all of the attention? They are already getting most of the attention by being disruptive in the first place.

    I understand that teachers have a limited amount of time. But I would never, ever say that a 89% is "fine" or good enough. I teach all of my students to reach for as high as they can.

    Also, I was a straight A student. An 89.4% would have been a BIG deal for me. I never had a teacher tell me "oh, your 92% is fine, I don't want to work with you on _______ (topic I was struggling with) because I am too busy with behavior issues."

    I don't like the message that sends to students.
     
  8. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    Sep 27, 2014

    I do get this too, because I would have been that student. And I do think that kids should be challenged. I was always above level and terribly bored in class. It is hard, though, to find a perfect balance, especially with such large class sizes. It sounds like the OP is doing the best she can. I don't think any teacher would say that they didn't want to help a kid who actually wanted to learn, no matter what the student's level.
     
  9. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    I totally agree with this.

    I've had parents that have wanted the same thing. Me to work one-on-one with their child so he/she could get an A. No, Previous Poster, that is NOT my job. My job is to teach a CLASS of students a set of standards. A student that has an 89% has met the threshold.
     
  10. Sugar

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    OP, I understand.

    And teach1: I understand that while we would all love to be Mr. Fenny or a number of other fantastic fictional teachers and sit down one on one with a B student to get him that A-level understanding, there is something called REALITY.
     
  11. Sugar

    Sugar Rookie

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    Sep 27, 2014

    Well said.
     
  12. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    Just because a parent or a student wants an A doesn't mean they are capable of getting an A. I have this conversation with parents all the time. Math is hard. A B in 6th grade math is not the end if the world.

    Giraffe, do your students have internet access at home? If so, you could send a list of websites home so students can have extra practice. That would send the message that you are trying to help, even though they aren't paying attention in class.
     
  13. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Exactly.

    In my class, you need higher intellect as well as hard work to get an A. Some students simply do not have the higher intellect. It isn't their fault, of course, but we all have limitations that we deal with. A 'B' in an advanced science course is still something to be proud of.
     
  14. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    Well, my sarcastic mental thoughts sure took a turn! :lol:

    At one point, I even wrote in there that I obviously didn't say these things, and that these were the thoughts in my head.

    Some background- this is a very, very, very difficult group. I was warned before I took the job. I underestimated them. They are very difficult. The stress they gave last year's teacher caused her to have a stroke. She missed over half of the school year. I wish I was kidding.
    I switch homerooms with another teacher, so I have two classes- one has 33 and one has 34. There are three 'trigger' students in my homeroom that cause them all to go crazy. We don't suspend them. (Yet one of my good but chatty kids got two days for harsh play at recess. During a game. But one of my 'triggers' hit someone hard enough that they had a welt on their arm and got 5 minutes off of recess. Her mom can't miss work, so we are not able to suspend her. Seriously. :tired:) The other homeroom is worse. There are 5-6 trigger kids in that room. The rest of the kids could be managed if the trigger kids were removed. They are noisy, off task, some are disrespectful, but it would resemble what I formerly thought a difficult class was. These other kids send it to a whole other level.

    This math is hard. For 6th grade. I mean seriously- they have to be able to figure out that 6(2x-18), 12x-108, 9x-247+2x-50+3x-89-2x, and x-100+11x+8 are all equal. This is all brand new to them. (I'm not sure what other states' curriculums looked like before CCSS, but both North Carolina and Michigan did not have this kind of stuff!) I was 2 years ahead in math in school, so I did do this in 6th. But I was 2 years ahead! These are kids who had a rough year last year, so naturally, many are struggling. All of my kids that are on task and focused, despite what is happening around them, have and A or B. Maybe one or two a C+. The rest are Cs, Ds, and all of my trigger kids have Es. Everyone who has all of their work turned in is passing. Unfortunately, I have many missing work. I have a kid who has severed several detentions for missing work and still has not turned in one assignment. Not one! He has a 0%.

    ***************************
    In case you don't want to read all of that, and are just interested in my 89% kiddo, my response is below. *********************

    I asked him what he had trouble with and went over a problem or two with him. I do help kids 1:1 when they ask me a question. But, no, I'm sorry, I don't have time to sit down every day and teach anyone 1:1, much less a kid who has a B+ doing the hardest math we will have to do all year. I'm sure in 3ish weeks when we move on to decimals, he will pop up to an A.

    Not only do I not have a lot of time (and 34 kids), I also cannot take my eyes off of these kids for a second. They are up, throwing paper, pushing each other, making sexual gestures, etc... They have to be watched every second of every day. Sadly, I have had to stop helping kids while trying to control the class. Maintaining order and safety is apparently my main job, not teaching. (Which annoys me to no end, but that is for another day.) These kids have been uncontrollable since kindergarten. We had several new kids move in- last year their classes were 30 and 31. We have 33 and 34. I wish they would have bit the bullet and split the class into three. But I don't make decisions. I have asked for help (support, advice) from my admin several times this year and nothing happens. I had a meeting with my P on Thursday about something else, and I was in tears, and still no guidance or anything was given. I've only worked for supportive administration in the past (except for me couple of weeks in the charter school), so I've never been so on my own before. I almost feel like they avoid having to deal with this group of kids. I keep saying that I wish they would have put all the behavior issues in one group and the good kids in another. Then only half of my day would have been bad, instead of the whole day. But, again, I don't make decisions.

    Well, this was supposed to be a sarcastic vent and it has turned into me whining. Sorry about that. 161 days until summer. But who is counting?
     
  15. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Giraffe,

    It is just 2 things. First, it is that time of the year. The 1st quarter has lots of parents wanting children getting off to a good start. By 4th quarter, the parent communication is so much lower.

    Second, in most schools, the 1st quarter in 6th grade is the first time students have a different teacher for all classes, and they are getting HW from all these teachers. It is a tough time for the students, the teacher, and the parents. This should slow down as they get more use to the routines.

    I know this can be overwhelming for you as I realize as teachers we have so much on our plates. I know that a quick note from a parent (much prefer these than long phone calls), can be a great time to get parents on your side and work together to help 6th graders. The time that you spend working with these parents on these issues could make or break your year. This free info the parents are giving you can be so helpful. Take advantage of that. It is well worth the time.
     
  16. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Sep 27, 2014

    I had a student last year whose 5th grade curriculum included linear equations - substitution in and graphing lines. Yikes.
     
  17. teach1

    teach1 Companion

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    Sep 28, 2014

    Wow. Sorry I managed to offend so many. I feel as though my opinion on the matter was completely misunderstood. I want to explain further but sadly I don't think it will make a difference.
     
  18. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    I spent my entire year in 8th grade math class learning 0 items all year. The entire year was a review. I was that student who was B+, A- who wanted a challenge and wanted it from my 8th grade teacher. That teacher felt it wasn't his job to challenge, but only helped the lower ones. I felt cheated because since I was good in math, I never got to learn anything. I sure hope that you were just venting, and don't really feel that you don't feel it is your job to help those B+ students to an A student. All students deserve to learn and be challenged. Even those who are the B+ students seeking to become A students. They may end up becoming the engineers, doctors, teachers, and leaders of the future.
     
  19. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    I really don't think it's a matter of "not my job." It's a matter of "there are only 24 hours in a day and I don't have every second to spend on students." I teach high school. I have 160+ students over 6 blocks (3 per day). If I have a class of 30, 80 minutes with them every other day, a thick curriculum and tons of crap like benchmark tests, no, I'm sorry, I don't have class time to spend 1-1 with a B+ student. Honestly, I don't have time to spend 1-1 with the student who can't read, but I'm going to desperately try to grab 5 minutes with him while the others are working.

    If a student with a B+ wants "extra help," it HAS to be on his own time. If I'm staying after and they want to come, I will talk to them. But no, sorry, I don't have CLASS time to spend with a student who gets it. You may feel slighted, but I have students who can't read. It's like triage. If you have a cold, that sucks, but sucking chest wound is getting my attention first. Not ONLY, but yes, first.
     
  20. Sugar

    Sugar Rookie

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    Exactly, History. Triage.
     
  21. 2ndTimeAround

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    No, I wasn't just venting. It is an impossible task for me to get every student to his/her full potential. And I won't be made to feel guilty about not even attempting that goal.

    If a child in my class is getting an 89% instead of a 100%, then obviously she already has room for growth. You can't tell me that she isn't being challenged since obviously she isn't mastering every.single.thing that I've given her already.

    I've only had one student get a 100 in my class. She needed my class for graduation. She didn't come in knowing the entire curriculum so she learned material under my watch. After about the fourth perfect test score I told her I hoped she wasn't bored in my class. She said she wasn't but admitted that she liked the amount of rigor in my class. While it didn't push her a lot, it did keep her interested yet gave her a bit of a break since she had two AP classes the same semester. I am perfectly fine with that.
     

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