Troll Opinion

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

This is a little Trollish Gem I very recently recieved:

You are so obviously a superior educator to anything else that exists in the school system. Have you given any consideration to home schooling? It is not a great idea to continue to antagonize your kids teachers as human nature will ensure that a negative attitude will impact on your child’s education. She already has learning problems and these are unlikely to be lovingly catered to by an antagonized teacher.

You suggest that you could sit in as an observer? Please, go and ruin your own kids life by yourself. I predict that whichever route you chose, your kid will end up as a educational basket case. Despite your many qualifications, you are a very stupid and self centered woman and you deserve all the misery coming your way.

Mikeave you considered home schooling?
First I am going to assume the last sentance is "Have I considered homeschooling?" I know your name is Mike, as you sent the email with your full business contact info. I wonder if your Boss at Gemini Structured Carbon knows you are using the company email to jot off hate mail to Bloggers...

It is however a fair question when stripped away from your personal feelings about me, my professional expertise and the quality of my mothering.

No Mike, I haven't. While I do indeed have superior qualifications to many teachers currently serving in the school systems, I also BELIEVE in the school system. I believe that there are dedicated, wonderful teachers who serve in the public school systems in spite of rotten funding. I believe that there are families who deserve excellence in their public school systems and as such should be involved and active in the decisions about their childs schooling as PARTNERS with the school system. Education is never a spectator sport.

Part of what I do is train those teachers in University, talk with them about what children deserve, what families deserve and impress upon them that when they dismiss a parent and her concerns because "They" know better because "They" have the teaching certificate that it is a very very bad choice.  And was my child ever lovingly attended to by this teacher? The first words out of her mouth to us were "Emily has a MULTITUDE of ISSUES - Emily has trouble paying attention and asks me to repeat things over and over..."

Look, I don't believe that every teacher and every child have a deep connection. I, and every other teacher on earth will tell you there are some kids we like more than others. Some we click with, others ...not so much. However,  in my dream world of "competant" teaching, I expect that my child will be known as a learner by her teacher. Part of that is knowing her IEP information and making specific changes to the way some information is delivered.

I also believe in accountability, Mike. Teachers don't get to become teachers and then sit on their collective asses for the next 25 years resting on what they learned in 1973. They progress in the field, or should be counseled out. The reason teachers like the gem my daughter currently is encountering is that Parents never SPOKE UP. Or they were silenced because they were afraid of what the teacher might do to their child. Or Principals who Should have counseled these types of teachers out years ago just never wanted to rock the boat. So we all have to suffer - but mostly the children who are stuck with these teachers most of all, because you know what happens in teachers rooms with the door shut?  Whatever the teacher wants.

In one of my lectures, I tell my students that I have observed there are two types of people who are drawn to the teaching profession - Those who really love children and teaching....and those who like to exert control over people they know can't really do anything about it. 

Well, I am not a fan of people who like to decide when a child can pee because they CAN. Those people are bullies, and I do not suffer bullies well.

I am sorry, Mike, that your parent or parents pissed off your teacher and you were some how penalized for it. That comes over loud and clear in your note. It wasn't right. Someone should have protected you. Had you been my child, I would have protected you. Shit, if I you were in my kids class and I SAW it, I would protect you. The bullies credo doesn't just work with my child. I tend to be that person who speaks up about everything. I am also the parent who will discipline other peoples kids on the playground if needed. But I bet you already guessed that about me.

As to my suggestion that I sit in the classroom, I have sat in on MANY of Emilys classrooms. In fact, if a teacher resists that suggestion I get nervous. What do they Not want me to see? If they are secure in their teaching it shouldn't matter if I am sitting in or not. Did you see the part about Ms Deb? I did my Masters Thesis work in her room with her reviewing the information I gathered. She was Em's teacher for 2 years. I knew that she was the same teacher regardless of if the parents were in the room. I TRUSTED her.

I do not trust this current teacher. I have been given no reason to trust her and she has certainly not shown the depth of her profesional knowledge by ignoring me, failing to read my childs IEP or not responding to notes I have placed in the agenda.

Finally, the reason we keep Em in public school? Because it is important to both her father and I that she experience all types of people - Kids, Families and yep, even Teachers. Private schools tend to be limited to those who can afford it, thereby canceling out some families by virtue of economic situation. Educational elitism (and I am SO not talking about what Neo-Cons like to pretend is some evil force) is probably one of the deepest divides in North American Society. No child left behind, my ass. How about every child who can't afford to get the hell out of the public schools left behind?

While it remains to be seen if my daughter ends up the "educational basket case" you predicted
[For the record, I am pretty sure she will be fine], your final wish for all the "misery coming my way" is sweet.  Not unlike the person who wished I would just kill myself now so my daughter won't grow up to be the same shallow bitch her mother has become.

A very happy new year to YOU Mike.

Fear of Family

Monday, December 28, 2009

I woke up last night in what is the closest I have come to a panic attack in a long time. Of course, being awake was a bit shocking as I had taken a muscle relaxant, melatonin, rescue remedy sleep and a strong hit of ibuprofen. By rights, I should have been firmly out until at least 10 a.m., coasting into 11 a.m. some mornings if I can ride the sleep wave.

I dreamt of my grandfathers funeral. In fact, I was so sure he had died that I was reluctant to open my email this morning since I knew that the message would have come.  While his death would be sad , he is an elderly man and is in increasingly fragile health. His wife, my grandmother, died last February. They had been married for over 60 years and I have read the statistics on how long one spouse lives after the death of the other after that length of marriage.

It was at her funeral, or the propect of her funeral last Febraury that the last real panic attack struck. I started to write about it then - detailing how I was laughing as the plane bounced in increasingly bad turbulance. Another plane would crash later in the same day under the same conditions, and as I flew back towards the place of my birth I was less scared of going down in flames as I was of facing my family. Imagine yourself on my flight - looking at me as I giggled and chortled louder with each bump and jostle. The rationale in my mind was that it was all right if I died, at least I would get credit for trying. And that this could be my epitaph.

"She tried"

I loved my grandmother. It was she who cared for the infant Dawn while my mom was in nursing school and father was in marine corp basic training during the Vietnam war.  I was the best beloved.  It was at her knee that I watched my first gardening occur, running through the orchard behind their house.  It is the spearmint hedge in her yard that I remember running through. She was a reader and books littered the house. Music too.  I used to dance with her to the Lawrence Welk show, during when the bubbles would blow around the set.

So back I went - twenty five full years since I last step foot in the Ohio Valley. Terrified of everything. Daring some god to knock me out of the sky...wishing for it.


The Unwatched Pot

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I feel like I owe you all an update, but sadly there has been nothing.

No response letter. No phone call, no Anything.

Which seems to me to be an odd tactic. Generally, the parents who were willing to write letters and send them with copies to everyone in their own individual envelopes? Those weren't the ones you wanted to ignore. Those were the MOTIVATED parents. You know, the ones that you should have been taught in Teacher Education can be your best allies - or worst nightmares, depending on your overall teaching skill.

As I do drop off during the week and Terrance does pick up, he reports that he has gotten many odd and inquisitive looks from various staff who were CC'ed.  No one has talked to him, but he gets the distinct feeling that the message was received loud and clear.  Emily reports that people are allowed to go to the Bathroom now - or even drink water in class. Revolutionary!  Of course, she also reported that Mrs. XXX had announced that she wouldn't be teaching them anything new until the New Year so that made our hackles go up a bit.

I go in tomorrow for my volunteer Library stint, so I will be better able to gauge the fall out by the way the other teachers approach me.  Terrance suggested I go in today to help serve at the "Taste of the Nations" potluck that the kids are having. I suggested that he didn't want to send me in there with a pan of macaroni and cheese and a knife while I was still feeling ignored and aggrieved. The great "Taste of the Nations" food fight and massacre averted.

Add into this general miasma that both my husband AND daughter asked me on Monday if I was close to my period. Separately and unbeknownst to one another.

I am not. I have a good almost three weeks before my period, which made me snarl at both of them that my bitchiness couldn't be put down to hormones. So maybe instead of trying to blame my hormones, the world should just straighten the fuck up and fly right.

In hindsight, that does sound hormonal. But I dare you to say it to my face.

Yeah, I thought not.

Back At Ya

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

December 8, 2009

Dear First name of Teacher,
Thank you for your response to my November 24th 2009 letter regarding the use of bathroom and water bottles. I am enclosing a copy for your reference.

While I appreciate your feeling that no one is being put through “unusual restrictions”, I respectfully disagree.  Your verbal statement during the parent teacher portfolio evening that it was distracting for some children to have water bottles in class, therefore you banned all water bottles seemed a bit heavy handed. I inquired if Emily was one of those children with whom you had experienced a specific disruption or behavioral issue around the use of water bottles. You answered No. I further inquired if you felt free to have a beverage with you during your time in the classroom. You indicated your coffee maker in the back of the room. I questioned whether the students might not perceive, as I did, a double standard around your concerns about drinking in the classroom.  Surely, if you are able to maintain your concentration around a beverage, there have got to be children who can also do so. I further suggested that perhaps you can wait until recess or class breaks to drink your coffee to maintain an aura of equal rules for all people in the classroom.

You further indicated that the children are free to use the “fountain.” As pointed out in my previous letter, I would prefer that Emily Not use the common water fountain. Surely, in this era where children are being asked to use hand sanitizer upon their entry into the school building, the use of a common fountain where any person can put their mouth on the faucet and transfer any number of viruses or bacteria cannot be considered to be “best” preventative health practices.

Respect is an active two way street. In my experience, students do not respect a teacher who does not respect them. I would suggest that by not allowing water bottles, or requiring that a child in puberty be required to plead his or her case to you as to why they need to use the bathroom in front of their peers is fundamentally disrespectful. Furthermore, I would suggest that applying a “rule” that applies to all children due to the behavior or concerns of behavior amongst a few is disrespectful.  As you know, students of this age have a very keen sense of fair and unfair. Experiencing the consequences of your own actions is helpful. Experiencing the consequences of others actions in the form of restrictions or punishments is punitive.

I know there are other teachers, Cycle 2 and 3, who allow water bottles to be present in their classroom. If a child abuses the privilege, then that child is dealt with on a case by case basis.

I know that there are other teachers who have a system of bathroom passes in which a child would merely take the bathroom pass on an as needed basis, use the facilities and return when they were finished.  To my knowledge, this doesn’t cause undo disruptions as the students are able to self regulate their turns in the bathroom.

Towards a different matter, my Husband and I were both very concerned by your unfamiliarity with Emily’s IEP information. To start off your discussion with my husband with the statement “Emily has multiple issues” is not one I would normally suggest when trying to build a good parent school connection. To follow that statement with a criticism of Emily’s “lack of attention” citing her need to “ask you to repeat directions” troubled us greatly. It is clear in Emily’s IEP that Emily needs clear directions, preferably in written form, so she can rely on her tool box of skills to self guide. Furthermore, when I suggested that Emily needs tactile math materials and you seemed unfamiliar with the term, I must confess a loss of faith in your ability to provide the best educational setting for my daughter.  Had you been thoroughly familiar with Emily’s IEP, you would know that as a child with non-medicated ADHD, Sensory Integration Dysfunction, Speech and Language issues and a slight brain injury that Yes – she has attention issues. She needs to be placed in a spot in the classroom in which she is not easily distracted. She needs tactile math materials, as simply telling her how to solve a problem, or giving her timed minute quizzes does not activate her best learning modality.  Yes, she has spelling issues since she has difficulty in hearing the individual phonemes in any given word, which is why she has been receiving speech and language support since she was 3.  My husband and I spoke at length with XXX  XXXXX  as to the content of Emily’s IEP, and he assured us that he would work with you to make it clear the modifications that need to be made to help Emily be successful.

Finally, the issue of responding to notes in the agenda or workbooks. It was always our understanding that if the parents wrote in the agenda, and by extension, the workbooks, that we would get a written response from the teacher. As I expressed on Thursday the 3rd, we have written a couple of notes as to the accurateness of material presented in both the math and grammar workbooks.  As Terrance and I physically sit with Emily and check over her homework, we are quite attuned to the material coming home.  We had not received any indication from you that you received these concerns. You stated on the 3rd that you address these indications “with the class as needed”. I would like to emphasize that this is not enough for Terrance or I.  We have always maintained a close relationship and fluid communication with whomever Emily’s teacher(s) may be.  I feel very strongly about a strong home/school connection being an integral part of a successful education, both in my roles as Parent and Educator.  We need to know we are being heard and responded to, as well as being kept up to date and informed of life in the classroom by you. In this way, we can make sure that we are all on the same page and supporting the same goals.

I would also like to extend the offer of my educational consulting experience. I have a wide background in classroom observation and assessment and would be happy to come and observe. In fact, up until last year, I regularly came to Emily’s classrooms to observe. In fact, her K-1 Teacher, Ms Deb, became my collaborator in my Master’s Thesis – which became my Doctoral Dissertation

Terrance and I are happy to meet and discuss these concerns further. It seems that a meeting regarding Emily’s IEP would be the most logical place in which to begin. I expect that Mr. TXX  will be contacting us with the revised IEP per our discussion with him on the 3rd.

I look forward to your response.

Cc: Ms. Principal
Cycle Three Teachers – Mrs X, Ms XX , Ms XXX
IEP Coordinator
(The reason all these people are cc'ed? She decided to CC all of these people on her response to me (written on MY letter) Two can play the CC game.)

A response

Monday, December 07, 2009

I know, I know. It isn't fair to get you all ready  and leave you hanging like that.

Yes, the Parent Teacher Conference was on Thursday and Yes, It went spectacularly wrong. This chick has now also pissed off Terrance, which is hard to do if I have already announced I don't like you. He tends to be supremely If I don't like someone, he will do his very best to take their side.

Let's just say she blew that out of the water. By the end of the discussion, she even had him quoting what the specific modifications indicated on Emily's IEP MEANT. In all of our years of schooling, this is the first time Terrance has ever - and I do mean EVER - taken the IEP seriously. Previous to that, he thought I was coddling her or that I was looking for something to be wrong with her.

As I told him last night, I was just preparing and arming us all for teachers like this woman...ones who would tell us about the "multiple difficulties" our daughter was having. How she "wasn't listening" and asked the teacher to repeat instructions.

This story will be told...but I am a little too close to it at this moment. The urge to run into her classroom and choke the everloving shit out her is still strong. So patience. That story is coming.

I will however share the response letter I finally received from her...after I specifically ASKED on Thursday night, letting her know I was still waiting for a response.

It was handwritten in the corner of my typed letter, returned in the same envelope with her name crossed out and my name written under that. I didn't even warrant the respect of a clean piece of paper or new envelope.

" Emily has the 2 statements regarding water bottles/drinking and use of bathrooms correct. Children are encouraged to use the facilities before and between classes, asking to leave the class in an "emergency". Children are also free to drink before and between classes. If they  are thirsty during and it is independent work times, they leave for drinks. So no one is being put through unusual restrictions.

Mrs XXX. 
cc/Principal XXXX
Cycle 3 staff"

Terrance read the letter to me Friday because I was so angry on Thursday I may have waited outside for this bitch to go to her car and tackle her had I read it then.

There will, of course, be a written response. CC'ed to the entire freaking school board. With this little gem photocopied and included. Any one like to add points to be included? My other education peeps who don't like oppressing and demeaning students out there want to chime in?

As she smiled her fake smile at me that night, I once again had that cool sensation of .... Pity.
The momentary feeling of "Oh my. You really do not know what kind of can of whoop ass you are opening here."

But there will be more, I promise.
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