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Help - Socially inept former homeschooler wishes to address new teacher


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DD (gr. 8) started at the very small, undemanding, rural local high school (gr. 8-12) this year. New wrinkle, as they try to find time and resources to cycle the kids through everything, is Humanities. I'm a fan of combining English and History/Social Studies. I feel focus should be on quality English instruction, using SS topics. DD is not the most clear, reliable source of information, but from what I can gather they have a first-year teacher.

 

First assignment - one page on the industrial revolution. Class time was given with websites and school library books. Books were rounded up and returned to the library. Assignment requires a minimum of two citations. No books are brought home, no instructions on citation formats are brought home. We googled, read websites, I labouriously (re)walked dd through key word outline as opposed to copy/paste (plagiarism), looked up how to cite websites. These are google docs, so I was able to glance over her peer group's efforts. There is a huge need for teacher instruction on *everything*.

DD returns from school frustrated that we completed assignment as teacher gave them an extra class session to work. I asked in what way the teacher helped her classmates. She reportedly walked around asking if they needed help. When told they were finished, she continued supervising essentially computer free-time.

 

So if my understanding is correct, no modelling of the research/ notetaking/ writing process, no filling them up with content to write about, no help editing... are my expectations really out of line? Should I wait and see how this is handled in the marking process or attempt some sort of tactful questioning? (Not my forte at all.)

 

Any suggestions?

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DD (gr. 8) started at the very small, undemanding, rural local high school (gr. 8-12) this year. New wrinkle, as they try to find time and resources to cycle the kids through everything, is Humanities. I'm a fan of combining English and History/Social Studies. I feel focus should be on quality English instruction, using SS topics. DD is not the most clear, reliable source of information, but from what I can gather they have a first-year teacher.

 

First assignment - one page on the industrial revolution. Class time was given with websites and school library books. Books were rounded up and returned to the library. Assignment requires a minimum of two citations. No books are brought home, no instructions on citation formats are brought home. We googled, read websites, I labouriously (re)walked dd through key word outline as opposed to copy/paste (plagiarism), looked up how to cite websites. These are google docs, so I was able to glance over her peer group's efforts. There is a huge need for teacher instruction on *everything*.

 

DD returns from school frustrated that we completed assignment as teacher gave them an extra class session to work. I asked in what way the teacher helped her classmates. She reportedly walked around asking if they needed help. When told they were finished, she continued supervising essentially computer free-time.

 

So if my understanding is correct, no modelling of the research/ notetaking/ writing process, no filling them up with content to write about, no help editing... are my expectations really out of line? Should I wait and see how this is handled in the marking process or attempt some sort of tactful questioning? (Not my forte at all.)

 

Any suggestions?

 

Let it go. I feel your pain, but let it go. Help your dd at home as needed.  Sorry.

 

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It sounds like the teacher is in for a steep leaning curve. She may be more familiar with helping older HS students who already have been taught this. I think the best you can do would be help your daughter and send your DD in with a list of resources for herself.

 

My stepdd has a new teacher for language this year. The lady is clueless. It hurts to watch.

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I really wish I did not need to work for money. While generally insecure (and realistic) about my teaching abilities, the stories my son and daughter bring home make me want to march down there and volunteer my time as an in-class learning assistant, though I doubt that offer would be accepted anyway.

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I'd guess that the teacher assumes the students already had instruction on the topics you mention.  I'd point out that your student could use explicit instruction, though for an 8th grader, this might be a good time to get started with some self-advocacy by having her ask for "extra" help, even after the assignment comes back.

 

Aside from the poor job the teacher may be doing for the class, I'd be willing to bet that requests for extra help after school may get your dd more instruction.  It's at least worth a try rather than simply throwing up your hands that she won't learn what she needs.

 

ETA, you can go over with her how she might ask to set up a time for help after school, help her with the words for how to approach the teacher, what specific things she needs help with, etc.

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In my experience, that sort of lack of instruction is not unusual even with more experienced teachers.  I'm not sure how you intend to address the teacher.  Were you wanting to explain to her how to do it correctly?  

This is my problem exactly: in no way do I want to come across as telling someone else how to do their job. I'm hoping in the marking process it will be obvious what instruction is needed. I just fear the kids will be marked down for plagiarism, incorrect/incomplete formatting, and life will carry on with no remediation.

 

Well, I also worry for dd, of course. I told her to tell her teacher that she got help so that her teacher does not incorrectly assume that dd is not in need of instruction, either. Such a fine line between helping too much and having to fill the breach somehow.

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Aside from the poor job the teacher may be doing for the class, I'd be willing to bet that requests for extra help after school may get your dd more instruction.  It's at least worth a try rather than simply throwing up your hands that she won't learn what she needs.

 

ETA, you can go over with her how she might practice asking to set up a time for help after school, help her with the words for how to approach the teacher, what specific things she needs help with, etc.

Thank you. This could be successful, if I can get dd on board. Thanks!

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Depending on the point if the assignment, that sounds like a pretest. In such an instance, no instruction is given, though help is offered. The idea is to see directly where children are in the beginning. That could be why no books were taken home - students are to do the assignment completely independently with no outside help.

 

The idea of a pretest is to then provide instruction which is targeted to the individual needs of the student or students based upon the assessment of their work. Small groups are put together, kids are leveled, specific topics are pulled out. If she told this to kids, they change their writing so it changes the results.

 

That might not be what is happening, but before you throw the teacher under the bus, let her try to be planning something.

 

If you helped your daughter, it might have actually been you who screwed up.

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I think people have made some good suggestions for your dd specifically. But as for the teacher and changing how she does things... I doubt you can do much. She's new. She doesn't have much of a bag of tricks yet. This may turn out to be her one trick, honestly - have the kids sit around with materials for research then write something. It's not very creative, it's not super useful for kids who need more scaffolding, it's not targeted to skills because it's over-general with vague expectations. As the year goes on, she'll either get better - some teachers do this toward the beginning and then slowly help kids more and more until, by the end of the year, the kids can do these sorts of assignments faster and better and are really getting something out of it. But other teachers will flounder and just keep doing the same thing, expecting different results. And that's the part that I don't think you can change. She has to develop her own methods and figure it out herself (or not figure it out and become a poor or mediocre teacher...). Either way, she's not likely to listen to you and is likely to hold it against you.

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I just looked over the instructions again and see that there will be self-evaluation and peer evaluation at the end. I really believe direct instruction is best for the majority of 13-year-olds in a ps setting. If she's a passionate teacher, I'm sure she will improve over time, it's just not much help to kids who have <5 years left until the real world.

 

 

 Either way, she's not likely to listen to you and is likely to hold it against you.

Yes.

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Sounds a lot like the teacher/situation my DD15 had in her 8th grade 'honors' English class two years ago; there was basically zero instruction. Luckily, the English teachers at our high school have been much, much better (and in a couple of cases, utterly fantastic). Both my girls KNOW how to write now! I'd be very worried if your daughter will have this teacher for more than one year (I'm jumping to that conclusion based on your description of it as being very small/rural). If that is the case, I'd either plan to after school English consistently or enroll her in an online class so that she masters the necessary skills. There is nothing more important in high school, with the possible exception of good math instruction, than high-quality English classes.

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Your expectations are not unreasonable, but when my kids were in public school, the methods you describe were standard operating procedure. If I thought I could have changed that, we might still be in public school.

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Yup, sounds like DD's school - everyone doing the teaching and evaluating except the teacher.

 

I just looked over the instructions again and see that there will be self-evaluation and peer evaluation at the end. I really believe direct instruction is best for the majority of 13-year-olds in a ps setting. If she's a passionate teacher, I'm sure she will improve over time, it's just not much help to kids who have <5 years left until the real world.

 

 

Yes.

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I struggle with this too with my daughter in public middle school, but I try to be extremely minimal in my interactions with the teachers. I often repeat to myself that it doesn't have to be perfect, and that it's not my place to interfere, and I do not want to be that helicopter parent who attempts to only permit good things to ever happen to her child. Sometimes classes will be useless or teachers uninspiring and it's okay. It happens in middle and high school and it'll happen in college and grad school too. Sometimes bosses are terrible and sometimes meetings are a waste of time. Sometimes things just aren't as good as they could or should be and it's okay. I try to remind myself of that... But sometimes I'm sure I could have done better and it gets to me too. So, yeah... I also work on letting go and letting someone else be in charge.

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I struggle with this too with my daughter in public middle school, but I try to be extremely minimal in my interactions with the teachers. I often repeat to myself that it doesn't have to be perfect, and that it's not my place to interfere, and I do not want to be that helicopter parent who attempts to only permit good things to ever happen to her child. Sometimes classes will be useless or teachers uninspiring and it's okay. It happens in middle and high school and it'll happen in college and grad school too. Sometimes bosses are terrible and sometimes meetings are a waste of time. Sometimes things just aren't as good as they could or should be and it's okay. I try to remind myself of that... But sometimes I'm sure I could have done better and it gets to me too. So, yeah... I also work on letting go and letting someone else be in charge.

That was my goal when I sent my kids to school, and it's nice to have you all here to help me stick with that. Last year was almost a complete loss for dd with math; this year is much, much better, so I do see exactly what you're saying is true. I welcome someone else being in charge when they're meeting my child's needs... much, much harder when the holes are so big. Thanks for understanding!

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