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Old 10-11-2012, 02:09 PM   #31
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I agree that you are wise to have the conversation.
Give the teacher the benefit of the doubt (says the recovering MS English teacher who had a class of 38 in an urban school where kids had to work twice as hard to overcome some hard things).

You might want to say something like:
(Kiddo) doesn't always seem to have a sense of what is expected day to day. What method do you use to inform students of deadlines, tests, and other small assignments? Do students copy those from a certain area in the room? Is that at the beginning of class? At the end? Not sure he's in the loop.
(Kiddo) has always done well in school, but this year, he seems overwhelmed by the chatter and drama associated with being class with his peers, and it seems to be throwing him off, from what he tells me. In your class, is there a lot of free time for exploration, or is it more structured? Do you have any ideas on how we can encourage him to stay on track during the less structured times? (*Note-I say this b/c when I taught MS I was blown AWAY by how each kid could be in their own world and not notice a child crying or losing it when they needed a question answered. It left me feeling bombarded and pressed for time, so I took more classes on classroom management. Seating some children near me and others who were more independent around the perimeter helped.)
(Kiddo) seems unaware of the criteria for grading or the style of assessments that are coming up. Do you use a rubric, a pre-test, or do you have any other ideas on how my kiddo can do some self-assessment before exams so he knows on what he needs to focus when he studies? It seems like his approach now is both inefficient and producing lousy results.

Asking the teacher for ideas on how you can help your child to fit into their style, while gently pointing out that their style is one in which your child is getting lost may help ALL of you to be less frustrated.

I frequently used debating formats and "round robin" reading. You know why? It got kids talking/engaged and we never had paper for the copier or enough books for each student. It was really hard and NOT ideal for introverts, or more self-directed learners. A smart, sensitive, artistic friend gave me some great ideas on how to include kids who were less comfortable in a high-energy room (after telling me how hard it was for him in middle school), and this kind of sounds like your son, maybe.....The teacher may not notice the challenges he's having, so it is a great time to share that.
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Old 10-11-2012, 02:18 PM   #32
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The things that stood out to me from the OP were the 'he says the class is loud and it's hard to hear.'
This is what stood out to me also. My son who is in 9th Grade Honors English was diagnosed in 6th grade with Central Auditory Processing Disorder ( CAPD)and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) by a Neuropsychologist. Testing also showed he was highly gifted - he is what you would call Twice Exceptional.

He often complained of the noise in the classroom. CAP is not a hearing problem, but more a problem mentally processing auditory language. My son's level of frustration in his classroom has varied year to year depending on the teacher style, classroom structure and how noisy his classmate were.

We did not catch this when he was younger because he was very gifted and was able to read at a young age. In early grades - teacher's seem to write down direction and class materials because they are trying to teach kids to read. Because he could read well he was able to keep up with everything he need to do. But as kids get older many teachers start to give ALL their directions/lesson orally. My son's anxiety levels went way up between 5-7th grade. I am finding that in High School they are back to giving directions more in writing. So things are going great this year.

He is also disorganized and this is some-what related to the ADD. You can find lot of information on the internet about CAPD. Just wanted to share my experience and hope it gives you another thing to consider.
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Old 10-11-2012, 02:21 PM   #33
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I will ask that too. I do know that the entire class is retaking the participles/gerund test today because more than 1/2 failed. I also know that he came home and told me that he had spent lunch time "tutoring" some his classmates on their parts of speech so they could pass the retest on that test. This is a little ironic since he failed the first test, got a D on the retest, and then a B on the second retest. Apparently his "tutees" are on their fourth retest.

The school gives them a planner, but there haven't been assignments to copy down for this class. In the past, he hasn't had an issue with knowing about assignments so I haveoun't been in the habit of reviewing the planner.
This does sound like something is getting missed. 4 retakes of a test? I don't even think my daughter was allowed to re-take a test once if she failed.

Do you know any of the other parents? Could you talk to them and see what their kids are saying about the class?

...but from your OP, I would say, yes, at some level it is not the norm to hand out guided notes, or study guides. I have noticed as my daughter got older these handouts became fewer and fewer and the kids had to rely more on notes they took from lectures.
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Old 10-11-2012, 02:26 PM   #34
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My DS in 8th gr doesn't have a CA book either. They usually just have novels or plays etc. They just finished The Twelfth Night. There were no handouts or study guides given. They had copies of the play. From 7th on I don't remember my DD ever having a book for CA, even her AP classes.

I still think you are to involved for an 8th grader and that he needs to learn to ask when he doesn't know what is on a test or when it is. I also wouldn't be reading every assignment he turns in. Doesn't he use spell check? Don't they do a lot of work in class that he needs to know how to check himself. Through High School and College he is going to have a lot of different teachers with different styles so he should learn now how to handle them while the stakes aren't high. And that means keep asking if you don't know and they don't answer you.
So should she let the kid fail before she steps in? I don't think so. He already has a D and can't get a clear answer from the teacher. Her job as his parent is to communicate with the teacher about what is going on. I can't imagine taking the attitude that magically in 8th grade a kid can handle everything by himself.
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Old 10-11-2012, 02:32 PM   #35
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The things that stood out to me from the OP were the 'he says the class is loud and it's hard to hear.' and a couple other things but primarily that.

What does he do about that? Where does he sit? Has he asked to move closer to the front? Does he say 'I'm sorry, I didn't hear that,' etc.?
They have assigned seats, he's in the back and says he can't change. I don't know whether he's asked. That's what we'll address. As far as speaking up, my guess is he doesn't but I'm unsure. He's naturally a really extroverted kid, but he's shy. Some teachers bring out the extroverted side and he participates nonstop in their classes. Other teachers intimidate him, and it's really hard for him to speak up. We're working on it, but I don't have a sense of which category this teacher is in.

He has gone to see this teacher outside of class at least 5 or 6 times outside of class, even though it means he's missing extracurriculars that he really enjoys, so he is making an effort to ask for help.

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You say he seems to have no notes - is that related? If he's shy and isn't going to say anything AND can't hear the teacher, well, hence this, I'd think.
Quite possibly. I can't tell you if they're supposed to take notes, just that his notebook is very empty. I'll be curious what the teacher says about that.

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The other things were that there was a test on the book they're reading but he didn't know it was coming up so he didn't study. They're reading the book - what did he need to study for a test about the book they're reading? I mean I'd understand terms to review or rules or whatever, but lots of teachers do pop quizzes or whatever on the book or play, because the kids are supposed to be reading it.
So, my guess is that the teacher assigned the kids independent reading and used the test as a way to make sure they read the portion that they weren't discussing in class. So they spent time talking about the first half of the book, as a mentor text and then he said "OK, go ahead and finish by Thursday and there will be a test on the rest of the book" or something along those lines. DS missed the entire direction, both the part about finishing and the part about there being a test, so he didn't finish the book and then failed the test. I can't tell you why he missed the original direction.

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In addition, the grammar thing - I don't know, obviously, whether it's that the teacher isn't teaching anything or whether he's lost because he didn't have a lot of grammar before and she's assuming kids did. However, I think both are possible.
I think it's likely a combination. I know this is an area of weakness for him, and could have told you that before the class started. But it also sounds like other kids are floundering. I also compare it to math where he was definitely behind when he first go to the school, and where I had to do a lot of extra work to catch him up, but there were always worksheets or notes that at least let him know what to ask. He could always tell me "we're studying improper fractions and I don't understand, can you help?"

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Even if this is mostly her teaching style or her being odd, I think a discussion about him speaking up is in order because he's certainly not going to always have teachers who are hand holders and who send study guides and go over everything that will be on the test and etc. That's definitely more grammar schoolish
You know, that's where I'm asking if things are different in a different kind of school. I don't consider written materials grammar schoolish. If anything, at my school there's a huge emphasis on getting kids to the point where they are learning from texts. I know from my own experience in college, there was always written materials to study from -- a text book, readings, something. In my professional life, I'm constantly asked to read things and integrate them into my knowledge. If I go to a workshop or take a grad school class, there is always a hand out, or an article, or some other piece of writing that is referenced. I guess I don't see reading things to learn something as grammar schoolish.
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Old 10-11-2012, 02:36 PM   #36
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So should she let the kid fail before she steps in? I don't think so. He already has a D and can't get a clear answer from the teacher. Her job as his parent is to communicate with the teacher about what is going on. I can't imagine taking the attitude that magically in 8th grade a kid can handle everything by himself.
And I can't imagine in 8th grade talking to the teacher until after my child had! Seriously he is almost in high school he should approach the teacher first and only after he has talked to her about what he needs to do should the Mom call.

It sounds like he isn't even asking in class when the test is or what is on it.

If my child came home and said I think we have a test on friday the first words out of my mouth would be well did you ask? If they say no then I'm going to tell them to go back tomorrow and ask.
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Old 10-11-2012, 02:37 PM   #37
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And I can't imagine in 8th grade talking to the teacher until after my child had! Seriously he is almost in high school he should approach the teacher first and only after he has talked to her about what he needs to do should the Mom call.

It sounds like he isn't even asking in class when the test is or what is on it.

If my child came home and said I think we have a test on friday the first words out of my mouth would be well did you ask? If they say no then I'm going to tell them to go back tomorrow and ask.
OP Says he HAS talked to the teacher.
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Old 10-11-2012, 02:43 PM   #38
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My DS in 8th gr doesn't have a CA book either. They usually just have novels or plays etc. They just finished The Twelfth Night. There were no handouts or study guides given. They had copies of the play. From 7th on I don't remember my DD ever having a book for CA, even her AP classes.

I still think you are to involved for an 8th grader and that he needs to learn to ask when he doesn't know what is on a test or when it is. I also wouldn't be reading every assignment he turns in. Doesn't he use spell check? Don't they do a lot of work in class that he needs to know how to check himself. Through High School and College he is going to have a lot of different teachers with different styles so he should learn now how to handle them while the stakes aren't high. And that means keep asking if you don't know and they don't answer you.
The OP said he is asking and is getting no answers. My daughter's Geometry teacher this year is the same way. After several days of her question not being answered (it involved being marked absent from class in error), I finally just sent a couple of emails to clear up the problem.

Yes, they need to learn to take care of things themselves, but they still sometimes need help and I will not put it entirely in their laps while they are learning how how solve their own problems. They are still our children, and not yet adults.

I also don't generally read assignments they turn in, but this parent chooses to. Your way is not the only right way to raise children, no matter how much you want to insist that it is and ram it down the rest of our throats.
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Old 10-11-2012, 02:45 PM   #39
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And I can't imagine in 8th grade talking to the teacher until after my child had! Seriously he is almost in high school he should approach the teacher first and only after he has talked to her about what he needs to do should the Mom call.

It sounds like he isn't even asking in class when the test is or what is on it.

If my child came home and said I think we have a test on friday the first words out of my mouth would be well did you ask? If they say no then I'm going to tell them to go back tomorrow and ask.
It sounds like he is asking but the class is so loud and disorganized he is getting no answers. How long should he get poor grades before she tries to help him out?
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Old 10-11-2012, 02:47 PM   #40
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They have assigned seats, he's in the back and says he can't change. I don't know whether he's asked. That's what we'll address. As far as speaking up, my guess is he doesn't but I'm unsure. He's naturally a really extroverted kid, but he's shy. Some teachers bring out the extroverted side and he participates nonstop in their classes. Other teachers intimidate him, and it's really hard for him to speak up. We're working on it, but I don't have a sense of which category this teacher is in.

He has gone to see this teacher outside of class at least 5 or 6 times outside of class, even though it means he's missing extracurriculars that he really enjoys, so he is making an effort to ask for help.



Quite possibly. I can't tell you if they're supposed to take notes, just that his notebook is very empty. I'll be curious what the teacher says about that.



So, my guess is that the teacher assigned the kids independent reading and used the test as a way to make sure they read the portion that they weren't discussing in class. So they spent time talking about the first half of the book, as a mentor text and then he said "OK, go ahead and finish by Thursday and there will be a test on the rest of the book" or something along those lines. DS missed the entire direction, both the part about finishing and the part about there being a test, so he didn't finish the book and then failed the test. I can't tell you why he missed the original direction.



I think it's likely a combination. I know this is an area of weakness for him, and could have told you that before the class started. But it also sounds like other kids are floundering. I also compare it to math where he was definitely behind when he first go to the school, and where I had to do a lot of extra work to catch him up, but there were always worksheets or notes that at least let him know what to ask. He could always tell me "we're studying improper fractions and I don't understand, can you help?"



You know, that's where I'm asking if things are different in a different kind of school. I don't consider written materials grammar schoolish. If anything, at my school there's a huge emphasis on getting kids to the point where they are learning from texts. I know from my own experience in college, there was always written materials to study from -- a text book, readings, something. In my professional life, I'm constantly asked to read things and integrate them into my knowledge. If I go to a workshop or take a grad school class, there is always a hand out, or an article, or some other piece of writing that is referenced. I guess I don't see reading things to learn something as grammar schoolish.
Yeah if the other kids are floundering in grammar (re the retests, though I'd also obv. clarify that as kids exaggerate to each other so someone saying 'oh I took it like 5x' may not mean that literally, though it's clearly concerning), that would, one think, be a red flag.

As to the reading things, of course. I was referring to the idea of test-specific study guides, handouts that are like what is discussed in class, etc.

I think that sort of thing is grammar school. I don't think I ever saw a study guide for a test from h.s. on up save some h.s. midterm/final sheets in a couple of classes. Handouts or extra materials that were materials on their own, sure. Some things have texts, some don't.

One class I had in grad had, as the 'text', a giant, two-volume, like phone-book sized bound thing the prof assembled himself and had standing by at the local copy shop, where they copied and bound them for him and sold them to you for like $100. It was, however, primary material for an obscure, very specific subject, not booster material, if you see what I mean.

It seemed like you were originally looking for 'booster-type' material, stuff to reinforce the lectures, etc. Which to me is very low level. Past 8th grade I think people are meant to learn the lecture material from the lecture and the written from that, though obviously, they cross over in class. There's clearly some kind of issue with your son's getting what's apparently in the lectures, either because it's not being conveyed well, the classroom is not controlled properly or he has an issue with getting it himself it seems.
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Old 10-11-2012, 02:48 PM   #41
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And I can't imagine in 8th grade talking to the teacher until after my child had! Seriously he is almost in high school he should approach the teacher first and only after he has talked to her about what he needs to do should the Mom call.

It sounds like he isn't even asking in class when the test is or what is on it.

If my child came home and said I think we have a test on friday the first words out of my mouth would be well did you ask? If they say no then I'm going to tell them to go back tomorrow and ask.
That is great if you choose to be hands off and it works for your child. If my child wasn't getting an answer to questions he asked, than it is my job as a parent to step in. The kid is in 8th grade, not high school and has already approached the teacher for more info and was blown off. That is where I step in.
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Old 10-11-2012, 02:50 PM   #42
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What has the teacher said when HE has asked them any of these questions?
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You didn't answer what the teacher has said to your DS?

In 8th grade he should be the first person to talk to his teacher.
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I still think you are to involved for an 8th grader and that he needs to learn to ask when he doesn't know what is on a test or when it is.
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And I can't imagine in 8th grade talking to the teacher until after my child had!
Gosh, ok, ok, I think me, the OP and all gods creatures have your opinion now.
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Old 10-11-2012, 02:56 PM   #43
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A slip from an "A" to a "D" definitely warrants a discussion with the teacher, especially if you aren't getting clear answers from the student. If the kid is coming home saying, "I didn't do the paper," or "I didn't read the assignment," and you have a clear answer as to what is going on, then it is one thing to let them flounder. But, if your kid is coming home and seems to have absolutely no idea what is going on in class, then this is a situation that needs to be investigated.

I think some people are trying to throw out some different scenarios that may be contributing to or causing, the issue.

Might this teacher be a total mess? Certainly.

Might the kid be floundering because he is more used to having step by step directions? Certainly

Could it be a combination of the two? Probably.

I have a kid that probably wouldn't speak up in class. She is quiet, shy and easily embarrassed. There is probably no way she would raise her hand in class and ask a teacher to re-teach something, or say she can't hear over other students. If she had gone to the teacher 1:1 and still had little understanding of the teacher's style or expectations, and her grades had slipped that far, then, yes, I would probably schedule a talk with the teacher.

However, I would not go into the meeting thinking that the teacher was solely to blame for this problem. (or if I did I wouldn't let him/her know it) I would approach it more on the level of, "Suzy is having trouble in your class, her grades have really slipped, I can't get a handle on what is going on here, maybe you could help me out."
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Old 10-11-2012, 03:14 PM   #44
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You should have no hesitation about going in to discuss your child's academics. A good teacher should always welcome parent-teacher communication. How many times do we hear the whole team speech. Conferences are a large portion of a teacher's job requirements and never ever hesitate to request as many as you feel are appropriate. When I taught I LOVED parent conferences. I didn't always love all the parents but conferences were important. Never forget this is your child and you understand him far more than any teacher ever will. I would not ask but explain you will expect to have your son's assignment notebook filled out everyday by him(your son). Ask for a syllabus or have her explain the weekly schedule in general. My hunch is your child is in a chaotic class or your son is distracted and not paying attention. Teacher's are required to have lesson plans in advance. Don't be afraid to ask the questions you need. A good teacher will be just as concerned as you are, if not demand the principal place him in another class.
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Old 10-11-2012, 03:15 PM   #45
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And I can't imagine in 8th grade talking to the teacher until after my child had! Seriously he is almost in high school he should approach the teacher first and only after he has talked to her about what he needs to do should the Mom call.

It sounds like he isn't even asking in class when the test is or what is on it.

If my child came home and said I think we have a test on friday the first words out of my mouth would be well did you ask? If they say no then I'm going to tell them to go back tomorrow and ask.
Did you even bother to read the OP's posts? She has said several times that her son HAS tried to talk to the teacher. Why can't you seem to grasp that? She is doing the right thing by stepping in at this point.
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