Middle School Teachers -- opinions needed UPDATE, new question post 73

Discussion in 'Community Board' started by Mickey'snewestfan, Oct 11, 2012.

  1. badblackpug

    badblackpug <font color=blue>If you knew her you would be shoc

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    I think, given the big slip in grades you should definitely meet with the teacher and figure out what the problem is, but I'm thinking maybe this teacher has a teaching style that is different from what your son is used to. In that, in past classes the teachers were handing out study guides, or giving handouts stating what material would be on the test, and what to review. It seems like this teacher is more verbal and she may say to the class, "We are having a test on chapter 3-6 on Friday," and she expects the students to write it down and figure out what they need to review. It doesn't sound like she relies to heavily on study guides, rubrics, or handouts.

    Possibly the class is loud, or more disorganized than others and your son is missing some of the things that are being shared, or maybe he is having trouble keeping up. It would be helpful if you could find out if other students are having this issue, too.

    I know that my daughter is a sophomore, and she doesn't get handouts or study guides. They are, essentially, told when the test will be and what it will cover. They are expected to write it down and prepare accordingly. She is not in honors/AP classes.
     
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  3. disykat

    disykat DIS Veteran

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    He's doing well and knows what's going on in all his other classes. I think you have a valid reason for being worried that there's a teacher/student disconnect here.

    I hope your conversation goes well!
     
  4. Mickey'snewestfan

    Mickey'snewestfan DIS Veteran

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    I want to add that I do think that part of the problem is my kid's skills. We moved into this district between 5th and 6th, and I think his elementary education was lacking in grammar. There's more grammar in 8th than in 6th and 7th, and so he might be missing some underlying skills. It's just hard to know how to address that when I can't get a clear sense of what they're studying. I'm happy to hire a tutor or buy an online program, or work with him but I'd need a better sense on exactly what to teach.

    Badblackpug, I feel like I'm beating a dead horse a little, but you say your kid isn't given materials, but then reference reviewing chapters 3 - 6. To me, a textbook takes the place of a study guide or handouts. He doesn't have a textbook for English, or most of his other subjects. He does have a novel that they're reading, but nothing else.
     
  5. badblackpug

    badblackpug <font color=blue>If you knew her you would be shoc

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    I was only using that as an example. I didn't mean it concretely. What I meant is that they are not given printed handouts or study guides that cover what will be on a test. They are told, verbally, in class, "there will be a test on Friday on X,Y, and Z," they are expected to write that information down and decide what they need to review.

    ...and I did say that there is a problem, and I did say that I think a meeting with the teacher is in order, but that this may be a "6 of one, half a dozen of the other" situation. It may be that the teacher isn't terribly good and imparting this knowledge to the children, and it may be that because your son is not used to this teaching style he is missing things. ...but I will tell you as they advance in grades this style is much more common than giving out handouts and study guides.

    Maybe your son is a visual learner and needs to see things written down. I am. I will forget almost anything you tell me verbally, but I remember, quite clearly, anything I read.

    I am trying to say, maybe what a PP said, and listen to what the teacher thinks is the issue, instead of thinking that the issue is all the teacher.
     
  6. Hannathy

    Hannathy <font color=darkorchid>When I stop laughing I will

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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.
     
  7. Disney  Doll

    Disney Doll DIS Security Matron

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    Can one teacher's teaching style be so different that a kid who does well and works reasonably independently in every other class is having such a hard time in one particular class AND others in the class are on their 4th retake of a test????

    I don't think that speaks to a different teaching style. I think that speaks to no teaching style.

    And no I don't have kids. And yes I generally do support teachers on these types of threads.

    But to me, a kid who is in honors classes for other classes & is doing fine with perhaps some minimal parental assistance, shouldn't be having this much trouble with someone who has a different "teaching style".

    I think you're wise to go in and chat OP.
     
  8. PollyannaMom

    PollyannaMom I was a click-clack champ!!

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    He or she may very well be verbal, but teachers are specifically taught to go beyond our own styles to reach all kinds of learners, and I always expect to give instructions both out loud and on the board. So I think it's a legitimate concern, OP, and good that you are going in to get more information. It sounds like you already plan to have a team attitude, and you know how not to approach it, so I think it will go well. You may not get everything your DS is used to, but I expect at least some of the puzzles will be solved. Best of luck!
     
  9. mamacatnv

    mamacatnv That be a Mum Y'all - a Texas Mum

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    I think a meeting is a good idea - something here is broken. Is it your kids communications skills or the instructors style or lack of information or lack of understanding? Whatever it is, a D for a good student is a trigger that something is not going well.

    Not answering the email is unacceptable, however, I have learned that email like everything else is not always reliable.

    My DD is in 8th grade, we received a syllabus from every teacher telling us how to reach them, how the grading worked, how to obtain information, ask questions etc.

    I agree that kids do need to learn to navigate, however, I think often here on the Dis we tend to push that concept to an extreme in our comments but in reality most of us as parents would not actually subject out kids to such harsh treatment.

    The only advice I have is that I would want my child present at the meeting and I would go in with a "I need your help" type attitude not a confrontational attitude.

    Good luck, I will be curious to hear your impressions of the instructor and how the meeting went
     
  10. SpecialK

    SpecialK DIS Veteran

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    I taught middle school English for 15 years. Some students had no problem asking for help and clarification, some would rather die than approach a teacher. Eighth-graders are all over the map as far as maturity levels go, and to assume that all kids can work with no guidance because yours can is inaccurate.

    My sons are currently in their freshman and junior years. The junior was not a very good writer when he was younger and I proofread all of his papers in eighth grade. Spellcheck doesn't correct for syntax, grammar and punctuation. He's now in honors and AP classes and quite independent.

    OP, I don't think you're expecting too much. I would definitely be asking for clarification from the teacher.
     
  11. cornflake

    cornflake DIS Veteran

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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.?

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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
     
  12. BLTby40

    BLTby40 Earning My Ears

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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.
     
  13. junebugs

    junebugs Mouseketeer

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    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.
     
  14. badblackpug

    badblackpug <font color=blue>If you knew her you would be shoc

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    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.
     
  15. wvjules

    wvjules DIS Veteran

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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.
     
  16. Mickey'snewestfan

    Mickey'snewestfan DIS Veteran

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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.
     
  17. Hannathy

    Hannathy <font color=darkorchid>When I stop laughing I will

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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.
     
  18. wvjules

    wvjules DIS Veteran

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    OP Says he HAS talked to the teacher.
     
  19. okeydokey

    okeydokey <font color=green>Frosty the Snowman scared me as

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    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.
     
  20. okeydokey

    okeydokey <font color=green>Frosty the Snowman scared me as

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    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?
     
  21. cornflake

    cornflake DIS Veteran

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    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. :confused3
     

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