Would you request a conference?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by soleil00, Sep 24, 2011.

  1. soleil00

    soleil00 Comrade

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    Sep 24, 2011

    I'm debating on whether I need to conference with one of my kid's parents...

    Here's the situation:

    He is a new student to the state, not just the district. I have absolutely NO information on him other than his name, birthday, and parent information. Nothing. The school he came from still hasn't sent us his records.

    He isn't extremely low in all subjects but he does struggle. He isn't low enough to qualify for pull-out intervention (I oddly only have 2 that qualified) in either math or reading.

    The issue I have with this student is the fact that he never does things the way I want them. Never. For Open House (Monday) we made a "cooperation quilt" in which they all decided what we were going to draw and each student had a piece. They were to draw themselves first, decorate the edges, cut it out and glue it onto a construction paper sheet of my choice. He drew himself and then glued it without cutting. His is the only one that will look different because I didn't know until I went to trim it this evening and I don't have time to have him redo it. I had to trim it as is to match the others.

    Half the time he does worksheets however he wants as well. I've noticed this on tests especially. I don't think it is an intelligence issue, it's an attitude and attention issue. His homework is always fine, but that's because his parents sit down and babysit him while he does it. He has problems following procedures too. We come in, put our backpacks up, open them and get homework folders out. He comes in, drops his backpack on the floor, and goes to his seat.. immediately talking to his neighbors.

    So I really don't know if this is deserving of a full conference or if it something I can just briefly talk to his mother about after Open House...
     
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  3. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    Sep 24, 2011

    I would not call a conference yet. I would first try to set up some procedures to help him w/out involving parents. Have you tried Love and Logic? Do you have co-workers who you could meet with for support and ideas on how to help this kid?

    I recently was at my wits end with a student, I had actually started disliking him! The other teachers who work with him offered to meet with me for brainstorming. They came up with some great ideas for me, and helped me remove my own emotion from the situation. I tried the strategies they suggested, the kiddo shaped right up, and we are doing great!

    Here is something I did once with a student who had a hard time following procedures. I made a checklist of what she was supposed to do each morning and at the end of the day. I used pictures along with the words, as she was not reading well yet. The checklist was kept taped to my desk. When she arrived in the morning, she came to my desk to consult her list. If she started wandering, I would gently get her attention and bring her back to the list.

    She loved checking off the lists! She did a great job after about 3 days of redirecting her. She started heading for my desk without being reminded. Each day, she took her lists home with a sticker to let mom know how her time went. After about 2 weeks, she didn't need the lists anymore. Success! And we were both happy.

    Sounds like your little guy is either immature or has a problem - ADD or something. Trouble focusing. He needs you to help him get a plan and to support him in following the plan. If you put the time in now, you will both have a better year. Good luck! Be sure to talk with other teachers, those you admire, who love students and are successful in helping them grow.
     
  4. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    Sep 24, 2011

    PS - for projects such as you described, you might have to sit next to him for a bit as he works on them. Anything with multiple steps will probably be difficult for him. Just give him one direction at a time, and direct the rest of the class from your place at his side.
     
  5. soleil00

    soleil00 Comrade

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    Sep 24, 2011

    Not sure how to say this nicely... my co-workers are very condescending towards me because I'm new and they think I ask stupid questions. This would be stupid to them. They are quick to jump to testing, conferences, and sending the child to the behavior room when they don't listen the first time.

    That's exactly why I asked it here. My main question will be answered without the condescending looks or responses or treating me like I'm an idiot because I'm a 1st year.

    I think you may be on the right track though bonneb, I may try some new things with him before I go the parental route...
     
  6. EMonkey

    EMonkey Connoisseur

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    Sep 24, 2011

    Was he actually in Kindergarten? If he was you can call his previous teacher and talk to them. I would also work on the one step directions. I would start over with the classroom expectations back to day one of the school year because the other student's examples are not clarifying your expectations for him. I would try and seat him next to children you think will set a good example. I would also find out if he is understanding the directions. I have had first graders who get very confused by directions that are more than one at a time and even one at a time can be challenging if they are abstract or not extremely clear. First graders even if they are challenging or challenged want to please.
     
  7. soleil00

    soleil00 Comrade

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    Sep 24, 2011


    That is part of the problem. I know nothing about him. I don't know where they moved from. I don't know what school, if any, he went to. I have no information on this child. Nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

    He currently is sitting between my 2 best students and is basically on the row of my best students altogether. He asks them all the time what to do, so I think it is more of an attention issue overall. I have to get on to him a lot to get him to pay attention to me when I'm teaching. Easily distracted.
     
  8. EMonkey

    EMonkey Connoisseur

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    Sep 24, 2011

    I have had little ones with the attention problems. Whenever I can, if the children are doing independent work, I will place myself right beside the little distracted one and have the other kids come to me for checking work. It sounds like he might not have been in kinder. I have my attention issue children right in front of me for the rug and try and stand at their spot for non-rug direction time. If I move from one side of the rug to the other side for a different activity I have my little distraction ones move with me. I find "so and so, eyes on me" is effective with even the really distracted ones. I find letting the child know "so and so, you skipped a step" makes them think over what they were doing and analyse what they skipped and then go back and do it (or if they look totally confused I figure out they had no clue and can inform them of what they skipped in my expectations). I try and set achievable goals for the children one goal at a time. So with one of the little ones I had, my goal was keeping hands off others he and I worked all year long to get him there. I started with him coming up with what was ok and then helped him with reaching the goal.

    So for your little guy you might set one goal follow the academic instructions-if he reads try writing them down see if that helps, try having him be the child who repeats the directions to you when you have given the class instructions-if he does not know them then reiterate them to him and then have him repeat, have him be a special helper for specific parts of the lesson, try one step at a time directions (I try not to give more than two at a time to first graders anyway), have the children tell their neighbor of the job they are about to do, try raising hands if confused (work with him privately if you think he is not informing you if confused), have a quiet meeting with him to double check understanding, have a small group who works with you if they are confused and make sure he is one of them... That is a run on sentence!
     
  9. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    Sep 24, 2011

    Soleil - I am so glad you came here with your questions! This is a wonderful place to get support. It is very sad that your co-workers don't support you. We have had first year teachers at my school the last 3 years, and all of us "oldies" felt so blessed by the energy, new ideas, and just-out-of-college knowledge!

    I try to solve problems in my classroom myself, or with co-workers. I want to save other avenues for the big guns - real behavior problems rather than normal childish behavior, which sounds like what is going on with your little guy.

    I highly recommend Teaching with Love and Logic, either the book or the videos. Your public library or teacher resource room might have these on hand. They helped me so much!

    Otherwise, I agree with the advice that has been given. He is going to take a lot of patience. But you will be so rewarded as you see him develop! Keep coming here for support. This is a group of people who love kids and teaching, and our fellow teachers around the world.
     
  10. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    Sep 24, 2011

    Sorry, another PS.

    You do want to pursue getting the info you need. You might call Mom and ask where kiddo went to school last year. Tell her some positive things about her little guy. Build up the bank account with positives, so when you need to cash in with a negative, there is something to draw on.

    Look ahead to his report card. About mid-semester, you will need to clue the parents in if he is unsatisfactory in any area. Parents don't like that surprise on a report card. During conferences, give them lots of positives and then bring up his difficulty following directions (if it is still a problem). They can help by giving him 2 or 3-step directions at home and helping hime beef up listening skills.
     
  11. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Sep 25, 2011

    You asked, do you need a conference. I would say you don't need one. However, I do think that one would be helpful to you and the child after what you wrote. I know I would schedule a conference, but I don't mind at all meeting with parents. Not all teachers feel the same way about conferences. Ask for a conference just in a very low key way. If you choose not to conference, I'd get info over the phone.

    Good luck,
    Kevin
     
  12. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Sep 25, 2011

    Perhaps you should provide the child with a schedule (laminated?) so they know what order to do things in and how to do them properly. Tell the student when they do something wrong, show them how to do it the right way (i.e. don't throw your bag on the floor, place it on the hook)
     
  13. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Sounds more to me he has a sequencing and procedure problem that requires more attention from an adult than other students. You even said when an adult supervises (but you called it babysitting - which to me shows an attitude problem instead of an understanding that kids take different amounts of time to become independent) the work comes out right.

    Yes, I would definitely talk to the parent about what you are experiencing, but I would lose the attitude of blame that you have against the parent and the student. Maybe mom knows that this child struggles with procedures and attention and the only way to get the homework done correctly is to make sure the child is on task and understands each step. Maybe mom isn't a babysitter but helping her child at the level the child needs help.

    What some work being completed correctly and other work not shows me that this child has uneven abilities. The fact the child attempts all work even if not done correctly shows he is trying. The fact that he continually is allowed to do things the wrong way shows me he isn't getting the supervision he needs and the approrpiate help to understand the task at hand regardless of whether it was told to the class, written down, or otherwise. Allowing a child you know is doing the work incorrectly the majority of time to not get enough help to do it right IS an issue because the learning is supposed to take place when the child is doing the work correctly.

    Yes, meet with mom, but I'd get rid of your blaming statements and expect mom will question you as to what you plan to do in the classroom to help this child learn to do things correctly when she seems to be able to achieve that at home.
     
  14. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    I wouldn't have a formal conference with Mom, unless that's the only way to get her in. Especially at the beginning of the year I talk a lot to my parents, trying to learn as much about their child as I can. I do this when they drop off their child in the morning or pick them up in the afternoon. Having people all around takes the pressure off of Mom.

    I sometimes say "I need to talk briefly to you about Johnny. Do you have a minute? I need some background information that will help me help him." Then I quickly explain what I'm seeing in the classroom.

    I usually get the answers I need from that brief conversation & then I can decide in which direction I need to go to best help a student.
     
  15. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    Wow a2z! I think that was a little harsh. These kids have to start being able to learn to do work independently and follow directions. Yes, teachers can accommodate for different learning styles but if the issue is this kid is just not paying attention when instructions are given that's something the child needs to work on. Especially when it comes to tests-that's going to affect his grades.

    Soliel-my opinion would be to wait and give it some more time. Since he is not one of the "low" kids, the parent might think by contacting them that this is a bigger issue than it is. It might be that the child is having trouble adjusting to the move, etc. I'm also sorry that you have no support from your team. That must be so frustrating.
     
  16. Lynnnn725

    Lynnnn725 Connoisseur

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    I would talk with mom. And I'd consider it as a conference. You say you don't know anything about the child... have a conference and ask questions. Ask where he went to school so you can request records. Ask the parents what they think are the strengths/weaknesses of their child. Etc...
    Somebody mentioned having a checklist and/or a laminated schedule - if I did that in my room, I'd have to have the parent sign a notification sheet that they've been informed that basically their child is having something that the rest of the class is not. (Not so much in those words).

    At my school, because of our policies, I'd definitely have a conference.
     
  17. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    It may have been harsh but so is calling Mom a babysitter when Mom is obviously understanding that the child is struggling to do the work correctly and knows that if the child understands the instructions and has help to keep on task the work can be done properly. So is saying it is an ATTITUDE problem and attention problem when attitude may not be it at all since apparently it is happening in many environments.

    Attitude and attention are two different things. I just think that OP was just as harsh on the parent and the student assuming it is attitude and a parent that "babysits". Could you imagine this post if mom didn't "babysit" him and the homework came in half done or was horrible and done wrong? Hmmmm Mom doesn't care to support her child..... Seems mom and child can't win in this case. What gets me miffed about this is we beg for parental support and when it is happening well, it is still a problem. So, I guess the proper thing to do would be to ask OP what she really wants mom to do? To "babysit" in her words or to let the child completely flounder and do nothing correctly. Or with neither be correct?

    I just get a bit miffed when it is obvious there is an issue of some kind and blame has to be placed. Why can't we just say, the child is distracted. The child is having problems with procedures. How do I go about fixing this? Should I talk to mom about the objective information I am gathering instead of it turning into a blame fest and using derogitory ideas such as mom is "babysitting" the student when in fact she is making sure that the issue of attention is being addressed so the child can do the work correctly.

    ATTITUDE is important and when a teacher is placing blame when the teacher should be solving the problem then the hope of good student outcomes will be limited.

    Think about the difference in thought process when someone says. In order for the child to complete the homework his mother must re-explain directions to him and make sure he remains on task. There is no judgement there if mom is saying that is what is needed. Calling it babysitting is judgement and honestly not very nice when in fact mom is trying to SUPPORT the teacher and child by making sure the work is completed and accurate. This mom is being condemned for doing exactly what teachers want of parents - support. This type of thinking does not solve problems.

    Call me harsh. Fine. The fact remains, there was much blame in the post. When addressing parents with this underlying thought process, it will not go well because the decision has already been made there is a choice on the part of the parent and student to not do things properly. The word "attitude" makes that clear. The word "babysitting" makes that clear. These were not positive words.
     
  18. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    a2z - I was a little surprised at your post, but I would rather call it blunt than harsh. And I agree that you stated things that needed to be said. Advice regarding dealing with parents is especially needed and helpful for new teachers - how many of us had to learn through suffering from our mistakes and being chewed up by a parent? The OP is still on the learning curve as a teacher, and your advice is appropriate. Often when there is a problem with a child, we need to re-examine our own attitudes, and remove our emotions from the equation. It is unproductive to take a child's behavior personally, yet we all struggle with this at times.

    Soleil, I wanted to share another experience from my classroom recently. I have a little guy with behavior much like you described. He is an only child, and is much more interested in his friends and having fun than in listening to me! He literally misses at least 95% of my lessons and directions! This was so frustrating.

    He is very sweet, kind, fun loving, gentle spirited, and loving. It is difficult to correct him because he is so sensitive! I was becoming so frustrated. I wondered why he was in my class?? Then I worked with him in a small group and it was like night and day. He listened, obviously enjoyed the work, stayed on task, smiled, and produced the best work of the group - due to listening closely! What an eye opener.

    Maybe your little guy would do better in a small group. The project you described is a perfect example of a good small group activity, due to the many steps required. When I am doing an activity, I try to ask myself, "Will anyone have difficulty with this project if presented as whole group? Who do I need to monitor?" If I will need to monitor more than 2-3 students, I set out centers and spend the time working with small groups on that activity. It eliminates a lot of frustration for all of us.
     
  19. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Sep 25, 2011

    Great advice, bonneb!
     
  20. donziejo

    donziejo Devotee

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    Bonneb, well said and it the appropriate tone....especially helpful to the origianl OP The suggestion about small group is helpful. I work with an older student that has behavior issues, and it's like you say, night and day working with him 1:1 or small group. He's improved in so many areas. (and we have only been in school 6 weeks)
     
  21. soleil00

    soleil00 Comrade

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    I promise I've read them all, just going to respond to one in particular though :)


    a2z -

    The word "babysitting" comes directly from the mothers mouth. She has sent notes with every homework assignment this pas week stating:

    "He really didn't do this on his own, I had to babysit him the entire time to get him to do it. That's why his homework hasn't been done, I haven't had the time to watch him."

    So, yeah, she is babysitting him to do his homework. Either way, I do appreciate the constructive criticism. It's always helpful and sometimes/often needed.


    Thanks to you all though, I'm going to get all of these ideas into order and figure out what will and won't work with him based on my observations so far...
     
  22. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    That is key information. Shared this way with the PT group, it gives much more key information. And is she really babysitting the child or re-directing and giving direction. She may have referred to it as babysitting, but do you refer to what you do to help students as babysitting? Probably not because that isn't what it really is. You may say this is semantics, but in fact, finding out exactly what she must do to get him to complete the work is key in this situation. Does she provide all of the answers? Does she prompt? How often? Or does she give instructions and re-direct. Finding out exactly what she meant by babysitting him is key to both out of class and in-class problems. Do they match up? Does what she need to do match what you and other students do to help him? You also need to let her know that what she is doing is more than babysitting and you support her in trying to find ways to help him be successful. Work out methods to use so you are both trying the same things at the same time. Let her tell you some things that work for her. What is the game plan for the nights she just can't be there to help (some families have this issue sometimes).

    Distractable in class. Can't do work indpendently at home or in class without asking for help. This points to attention problems. Now, many things can cause attention problems, so then you must even dig deeper. What did she see at home last year if K kids were given homework? Same things?

    I do think it is wonderful you are looking for some help for this kid. I'm sure with persistence and the right approach you will succeed. Others had great ideas to deal with the distractibility in the classroom and the lack of ability to work completely independently.

    I still think you need to talk to mom about this "distractability" and find out exactly what is going on at home when she is helping with homework and what happens when she can not.

    Methods:
    In-class during lesson distractability - he needs to be seated near you. You need subtle ways for him to know you see him distracted. A queueing system to start. Discussions about how you know his thoughts are wandering away from what you are saying and make a plan to help him learn to help himself.

    Not understanding the instructions... Does he need them repeated frequently through the process of the worksheet? If not, a quick 1:1 explanation and have him repeat it back to you. If you have time have him show you the first problem or task so you know he is on task. If so, the issue is inattentiveness or impulsiveness keeping him on task or other such memory problems that can get in the way. That requires more vigilence on your part.

    Praise when you see him on-task and not distracted. Praise when he can explain the instructions to you without having to tell him what they are.

    If after a bit, you and mom can't build independence it is time for the discussion that the distractibility is outside of the average amount for a child his age. Never say adhd or add.

    Good luck with this.
     
  23. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    Kind of off topic, but it's my pet peeve.

    How do you "babysit" your own child? To babysit means to give care for children will the parents are absent.

    You can't "babysit" your own child. You parent your child.

    Sorry, just a pet peeve of mine. Started years ago when a male friend said he couldn't do something because he had to babysit his son while his wife was at work. He's not getting paid to babysit.
     
  24. soleil00

    soleil00 Comrade

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    ....you know, I've never thought about the literal meaning of babysitting and you're right. I've had so many parents (in and out of school) use that term in regards to their own kids!



    a2z - Thank you very much, definitely will take all this to heart and see if I can get some more information on this child and how he was in kindergarten.

    I really wish I could light a fire under the butts of his old schools' admin to where they'd get his records to us faster.. we've been waiting since August 4th! I think I'm going to check with my P to see if his records ever came in and I was just never told about them.
     
  25. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    Sep 26, 2011

    Good luck to you today!
     

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