Teaching a nonconformist elementary student

Discussion in 'General Education' started by alabama, Feb 4, 2014.

  1. alabama

    alabama Rookie

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    There is a student who is transferring to my school this week. I haven't met the student, but understand from talking with the parent that the mom thinks of her child as a noncomformist who should be treated differently than the rest of the students in the class...given special assignments and permitted to have more freedom than might be typical of elementary students.

    I don't know a lot of details, but apparently the student has had trouble with given very specific tasks without a lot of flexibility and freedom...like she might want to do art when it is reading time and can have meltdowns if forced to reading. Teachers that have allowed her to do art instead while the rest of the class is doing reading find her easier to manage.

    I'm wondering if you have any suggestions on educating the noncomformist elementary student? This is my first one that I've run into, and want to do the right thing.
     
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  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    What does your administrator say?
     
  4. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    suggest homeschooling. That would be the right thing.

    There is conformity that leads to acceptable behavior in society and there is conformity that leads to robot children. Expecting a child to participate in reading while the rest of the class reads does not stifle learning, expression or creative thought. It prevents brattiness.
     
  5. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    I agree that a meeting with the parent and your administrator is needed.
     
  6. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    This. I can't even deal with parents that think supporting this type of behavior is beneficial to their child.
     
  7. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    I would get more details. She clearly has an IEP that will give you some direction.

    What? You say she has no IEP? Admin is needed to clarify then.
     
  8. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    I would give admin the heads up and see if they have any helpful suggestions.

    Then, wait and see. Some mothers think the whole world should change for their child, even though the child fits in just fine. Welcome the child to the class and treat the child like everyone else. The new student is often a lot less of a problem than the new parent.
     
  9. Kaley12

    Kaley12 Companion

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    I agree that you should have a meeting with your admin about this.

    Just to clarify, is there a legitimate reason why the parents feel their child should get to do her own 'schedule' as she pleases? For example, does she have a type of disorder or any other underlying issues that may make certain tasks or routines a genuine challenge? Or do the parents simply believe that she should be allowed to do what she wants in the name of creativity or free thinking, so to speak?

    If it's the latter, then I would definitely iron out some type of arrangement that would keep her on the same schedule as the others. Like another poster mentioned, having her do reading, writing, etc isn't causing some harmful type of conformity. It's teaching her valuable work ethics (on top of the academic skills). Always being allowed to do what you want when you want is going to cause her a lot of problems and opposition from others throughout her life.
     
  10. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    A free-thinking child can also be encouraged to work on additional projects such as art, creative writing, or science experiments at home, after school. There's no reason a classroom should be the end-all outlet for a child's creativity... a parent who wants their child to get to experience taking initiative in one's own learning can encourage that outside of the classroom as well. Asking a child to follow a standard schedule is not unreasonable and does not need to squash innovation or independence.
     
  11. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Another distinction between elementary and secondary school cultures.

    If I had such an email from a parent I might respond to it. I might not. Since there was no direct question asked, I wouldn't feel an obligation to reply.

    If I did respond, I would simply state that a parent letter was sent home on the first day outlining the rules and procedures in my classroom. I would remind the mother that I am a professional educator hired by the public school system and that my students' best interests always drive the way I run my class.

    And I would leave it at that. If she responded further I would suggest a parent meeting. At that point I would call in an administrator.

    At the high school level we do not allow parents to dictate how we teach. I'm surprised that it is up for consideration at any level.
     
  12. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    I don't think this is the case at all. I suspect we don't have the whole story.

    Does the child have an IEP?

    If he does not, I do not know one elementary teacher that would just oblige the parent with this without follow up with admin.

    If he does have an IEP(which stipulates these activities), secondary will follow it to the letter of the law just like elementary.(at least in California)
     
  13. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    It is hard to know for sure based on your interpretation of the previous situation with the child, but to me it sounds like mom was trying to explain that when the child was forced into situations it went very poorly for everyone. The only thing that worked with the child was to give some leeway and flexibility.

    I'm not saying that you saying that you must do what the previous teachers did, but to me it sounds like mom is giving you a warning and trying to indicate what was done before with success and what produced failure in the classroom before. The end result must eventually be a student that is willing to do the work that needs to be done, but it sounds to me like the previous school didn't have much luck getting the child to this point.

    Mom is probably telling you about the previous experience and labeling the child as a non-conformist to help you understand what the child is like.

    Did mom say she liked the child behaving this way or did she just explain how it is and what was done in the past to deal with it?
     
  14. EMonkey

    EMonkey Connoisseur

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    It sounds to me like mom is informing you she will not back the teacher in having her daughter do the school work.
     
  15. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Wonder why mom is moving the child? I have seen parents go school shopping with their child until they found one that would cater to them.
     
  16. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    In secondary an IEP that stipulates that a child can do whatever activity she wants to do would not exist in a gen Ed classroom.
     
  17. AliLand

    AliLand Rookie

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    I have taught a few kids who have been allowed to get away this this for too long. Your not doing her any favours. Just last week, I took a child to the side and voiced my opinion that he was not a free nonconformist as he was not choosing to be different but simply didn't know how to behave in class. I supported his wish not to be a robot, but went to lengths to point out the benefits of learning to conform before opting out - (he is 14, and his mother a teacher!). He accepted my point, but suggested change would be hard at this stage.
     
  18. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    I have seen families move before. I've seen schools push kids out before. I've seen problems on BOTH sides when a kid struggles.
     
  19. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    I agree that this child's behavior will need to be moved from where he is now to where he needs to be, but a child that has been like that for a long time might take longer and need different methods than the typical punishment methods. Being that the OP's post says the mom distinguished between how it was before and how things worked with other teachers means that the child most likely had the typical methods of dealing with a difficult behavior and it did not work.
     
  20. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    Why would you assume this student had an IEP? Does she have a disability that is making her a "non-conformist" or is it just a behavior that has been indulged?
     
  21. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Agreed.
     
  22. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    I would assume she does simply because we don't get requests from parents to allow their child to do whatever they want, whenever they want. Typically when there are situations like these there are severe behavior problems when the child cannot "conform", these behavior problems typically lead to an IEP.

    The school where I work would likely not entertain this idea at all unless it was supported with an IEP, as a teacher I likely wouldn't have to even think about this situation, admin would take are of it for me....again unless it was a legal IEP.

    Why do you assume the parent is indulging?
     
  23. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    The poster did not state that she was a special education teacher so unless she says otherwise I am assuming there is no IEP or formal reasoning for this request.
     
  24. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Why would she have to be a special education teacher? In California regardless of IEP the student would be with a general education teacher the majority of the day. The general education teacher is the one who would be dealing with these accommodations the most not the sped teacher.
     
  25. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    I think it's possible a2z is right. I have a nonconformist oldest son and it's pretty much a PITA most of the time. And no, we don't indulge him and expect him to do all his schoolwork. He does irritate teachers (a bunch) with tangential comments, talking out of turn, etc., a lot of the time, but is also incredibly bright and is going into several Honors classes when he goes to high school next year.

    I'd also wonder if nonconformist is being used as a euphemism for disobedient. Does the daughter hate One Direction and Justin Bieber, dress in odd clothes, and avoid games the others are playing? Or does she just not want to do what she's told? If she IS really a nonconformist there's a good chance she struggles with it herself as well.

    Assuming that the parent is indulging the child is erroneous.

    I'd also be curious if the parent has other kids and what their ages are. If she does and does not think of them as "nonconformist", I may trust her judgement a little more that at least something is different about this particular child. If this is the "baby" of the family or an only child it might be a little more likely that there's indulgence going on, if the oldest it's probably a lot less likely. If it's the middle child the nonconformism could be a result of either seeking attention or of trying to assert her own identity.
     
  26. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    If there was an IEP in place, I'd expect parents to mention it (particularly since an IEP allowing a student to do art during reading time would be a pretty big deal), or at least to get a briefing from the SPED department about it. Whenever I had a new student on my SPED caseload, I always frontloaded the teacher with as much info as possible, accommodations, goals, etc.
     
  27. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    That's why I doubt we have all the information.
     
  28. Kaley12

    Kaley12 Companion

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    THIS. While there absolutely could be a reason why the child struggles with following the same rules/routines as the rest of the class (and would likely have an IEP to explain), I've seen far too many times students who simply throw fits when expected to do something they don't want.

    There's a student at my school who struggles with behaviour. He can be very rude and defiant and cause large disruptions on a regular basis. The parents cause a huge amount of grief for the teachers and admin because they like to blame everyone but their child. The student's teacher was explaining how he often doesn't participate in class activities at the carpet because he tries to go off and play at a center, or becomes very disruptive. The parents were upset with the teacher for trying to force him to join the rest of the class, and talked about how his old teacher would let him do something else off to the side as long as he was quiet. The teacher and admin made it clear that there is no reason he shouldn't/couldn't meet the same expectations as the rest of the class and would not get to play while others worked.

    I'm curious to get more details about this particular situation.
     
  29. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    How do you explain to the other students that Suzie is allowed to be off doing something else when they have to sit at their desks and do math every day at 10am?
     
  30. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Hey now, you simply tell them that fair does not mean equal! lol
     
  31. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    Yeah, then little Johnny will cry and tell his mom and then his mom will come to school and cause a ruckus! Fun times!
     
  32. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Do we ever really have all the information?


    We have what any OP shares, that feeling, reflection, experience. It's beneficial to shine a light on the 'other side', but we don't know that either.
     
  33. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Agreed, so my side is that this child likely has an IEP. If he does not have an IEP, then a meeting with admin should be held for such extreme modifications.
     

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