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Meadowlark

Need advice-pulling out of PS NOW!

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So background-we homeschooled exclusively until 2 years ago when I put 5/6 kids in school because of major burnout, feeling of inadequacy, etc. This year, just the two oldest are in school. One in 6th grade at a private school-it's the best thing for him. The next in 5th grade at public school-not going so great. He's had some issues socially, but nothing so horrible that the thought ever occurred to me to pull him out. I've never especially LIKED what's going on there, but I chalked that up to my positive feelings about homeschooling and not necessarily the school (which is supposedly one of the best in our city and has rave reviews from every parent I know). So in other words, maybe it's me, not the school.

But, last night we had his conference. It was an epic, complete disaster that has my husband (normally fairly calm and rational) reeling with anger. The teacher is a first year teacher (although in her late 30's with a family of her own). She subbed for 7 years before this assignment. The Fall conference wasn't much better but we just thought she was getting her bearings and left it at that. Well, she started off handing me some FAST test telling me how fast he can read. Ok, not especially important to me but it's a big huge deal for our distract so whatever. Then she gave him a sheet with study skills on it, and had him tell us how HE thinks he's doing in every aspect. If you have no one in public school-this is the thing. Apparently, teachers no longer talk, the kids lead the conference telling you how they're doing from their point of view. I am so over this, and actually interrupted and said "I'm more interested in hearing what YOU think actually"...to which she just snickered and ignored me. There was this section of on organization and my son said he thought he was doing well. She snickered and laughed, but said nothing. Then, she went on and talked to him about how he feels about middle school. She gave him a schedule of what the day will be like and we spent 10 minutes of the 20 minute conference talking about middle school! I mean, what? Can't we talk about this year? It's only February! At the end, she actually said "well, that's all I have-I haven't seen him much". This is because we've had a bunch of snow days lately. But keep in mind, the last conference was in October. She hasn't seen him since October? And there has been zero communication since then, and zero tests/work have ever come home. I mean-nothing. I have no idea what this kid is doing there.

So by the end of 20 minutes, this teacher that he spends 7 hours with every day, has said NOT. ONE. THING about my child. Not his strengths, not his weaknesses, not what he has to work on, not how he gets along with other kids, not if he's respectful, nothing. Actually, she didn't even greet him when we came in and she didn't even seem like she knew him. I am so furious.

I know I'm going on emotion here, but would it be so horrible to pull him out now? He of course doesn't want to, and I understand that in 5th grade, this is a much different decision than 1st. But at what point do you say enough is enough? I feel this teacher is incompetent, there are some bad influence hooligans at this school, a girl consistently swears at him on the bus, and I'm not sure that he's even learning anything. But on the other hand, if he'll hate me for doing this before he "graduates", then it might not be worth it for 3 months. I mean, there are some positives of course and things he's looking forward too. For the record, we are considering homeschooling him next year but it's a tangled mess due to the fact that his older brother is in school and it's doing really well.

I will also add that because of our snow days, the days are going to get longer by 25 minutes. So he'd leave at 8:15 and not get home until 4:15. 

I need some perspective. Tell me if I'm nuts or if you would do this in a heartbeat.

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I do not think you are nuts, but I do recommend pulling back and letting your emotions settle before you make the decision--particularly as it is not what he wants.

From what you wrote, it seems that your problem is more with the teacher than how he is actually doing/what he is learning.  I hear you don't like the communication and you don't like her.  But the fact she doesn't really know your child doesn't mean he's being mistreated or not learning anything .  I would think if he was not doing okay she would have found a way to tell you.  Maybe you can ask for another conference with just her.  It is completely justified that you want/need to know how he is doing and if he is learning anything.  But I think, in your exact situation, the only way I'd pull him unwillingly is bullying or clear verbal (and definitely physical) abuse from the teacher.

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A couple of things stand out:

1. The teacher thinks of your son as a good student.  Sure, he has some issues, but nothing that is going to be a big problem or aren't explained by his age.

2. You're not getting the communication you want.  This is an issue to take up with the teacher, most definitely.  Send her an email.  If it is not answered satisfactorily, send a follow-up and cc the principal.

I don't know whether I would pull out my kid over this, but I do think that whatever your plan is, you need to list all your concerns and what needs to be done before you make a large commitment of your own - especially if much of the remainder of the year is going to be you figuring out what he knows/hasn't learned yet so that you can start him on appropriate work.
 

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Teaching and leading parent conferences are completely different skills. If you are evaluating the teacher’s competence in the classroom, I encourage you to focus on any evidence you have that relates to those skills. I don’t think you can extrapolate much from the conference scenario to the classroom scenario.

It probably isn’t her decision whether to have a student-led conference, and she probably isn’t free to do it differently. She didn’t have prepared comments because it wasn’t her job to do that right then. It also isn’t really in the ‘teaching’ job discription to report progress (or weaknesses) to parents apart from report cards — which are incredibly hard work, done off-hours for no pay. It’s not reasonable for her to be able to do that verbally, at the drop of a hat, for each and every student.

It sounds like your son is doing fine, and he isn’t very distinctive in the classroom. I think maybe you found her manner dismissive and that you just wish there was a bit more parent-teacher partnership going on. You could probably initiate some of the communication that you are hoping to see. I don’t think she would resist it — I just think that your disappointment that it isn’t already happening might be misplaced.

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6 hours ago, Meadowlark said:

At the end, she actually said "well, that's all I have-I haven't seen him much". This is because we've had a bunch of snow days lately. But keep in mind, the last conference was in October. She hasn't seen him since October?

Actually, she didn't even greet him when we came in and she didn't even seem like she knew him. 

 

What does she teach him (as in subjects)? How many kids in a class?

For my kids public school, my kid has for K-3rd different teachers for English, math/science, library, computer literacy, music, art, PE. So while I speak to their English teacher for parent teacher conference, there are six other teachers that spend time with my kid. For 4th and 5th grade, they have a homeroom teacher who may not be teaching them any subject. Science is a different teacher. So now the homeroom teacher does the parent teacher conference but my kids would have eight other teachers.

My kids are quirky so their teacher would relay comments from other teachers when my kid is not within hearing range. Kids who give no problems might just not be under the teacher’s radar. 

 

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Personally, I think that is a huge over-reaction to what seems to me to be a pretty normal conference.  You should have an idea of how your son is doing from report cards, work that is sent home, etc.  Getting him involved as a fifth grader is a good skill since the schools are working towards getting him ready for middle school where they are going to have much less scaffolding and are going to need to evaluate their own needs and will need to ask for help more. 

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Does your ds like school?  School conferences are a joke, you just put up with them.  If you have specific questions, you can contact the teacher personally.  

Some teachers don't seem very good in those conferences, but that doesn't mean they fail as teachers.  They're maybe extremely nervous about having to meet with parents, or just inexperienced with conferences, or are good with kids but not goods with adults.

Another thing, I'd be wary about pulling your child out JUST because of a personality issue.  Kids have to learn to get along with all personalities.

You still might have some perfectly legitimate reasons to pull him out.  Or, even without reasons, you maybe have just decided you want to homeschool him again, and that's fine.  

 

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4 minutes ago, Jean in Newcastle said:

Personally, I think that is a huge over-reaction to what seems to me to be a pretty normal conference.  You should have an idea of how your son is doing from report cards, work that is sent home, etc.  Getting him involved as a fifth grader is a good skill since the schools are working towards getting him ready for middle school where they are going to have much less scaffolding and are going to need to evaluate their own needs and will need to ask for help more. 

Except that the OP said:

Quote

But keep in mind, the last conference was in October. She hasn't seen him since October? And there has been zero communication since then, and zero tests/work have ever come home. I mean-nothing. I have no idea what this kid is doing there.

I wouldn't be happy about that under any circumstances, but I could probably make do if I then got a detailed report at conferences.  But to have no work coming home AND no real communication at the conference.  That would upset me as well.  Probably not to the point that I pulled an unwilling child from school mid-February, but enough that I re-evaluated our education choices for next year.

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I would say that this is less about his experience in school and more about your experience of interacting with his school.  I get the frustration, and I'd make a big complain.  But I wouldn't punish the kid.

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19 minutes ago, wendyroo said:

Except that the OP said:

I wouldn't be happy about that under any circumstances, but I could probably make do if I then got a detailed report at conferences.  But to have no work coming home AND no real communication at the conference.  That would upset me as well.  Probably not to the point that I pulled an unwilling child from school mid-February, but enough that I re-evaluated our education choices for next year.

But see, I would specifically ask about that at the conference. Though if there was feedback through report cards or online grading (which is so much more common nowadays) then getting the actual returned work or tests wouldn’t be that important to me.   If there is no feedback on academic progress and the teacher didn’t have a good response at the conference, then I would contact the principal. 

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I think it sounds like you could have come across rude.  The purpose of this conference is for the student to do certain things and take a leadership role.  It sounds like you shut that down.  

I think you should set up another conference or email her if you want more info.  

I understand you not liking the set up of the conference, but I think you have more options to seek out info from the teacher.

It sounds like they are getting him ready for middle school and want him to take an active role.  I think that’s fine.  

I think you are very free to email the teacher or have another meeting with her without your son or request a phone call.  

Just my take. 

I don’t know if the teacher is really bad or if she was taken aback by the conference not going as she expected.  

 

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Also I can see it being weird with your son sitting there.  The teacher might prefer you to share concerns privately and not at the p-t conference.  

If you have concerns you should contact the teacher and not just wait for p-t conferences, IMO.  

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I'm sorry, but perhaps I'm missing something. I am reading the OP that the parent did, in fact, ask the teacher for feedback, and the teacher refused to provide any. For a fifth grade student. Whom she has in class all day. Since September. How on earth is it appropriate for a teacher to refuse to answer questions? And how on earth could a 5th grade teacher be so unfamiliar with her students in February that she cannot be reasonably expected to answer basic questions about progress? Answering parent questions at a parent-teacher conference isn't in the job description?

If I were in your shoes, OP, I would be getting answers to my questions. If not from the teacher, then from the principal. And if not from the principal, then from the district superintendent. As for pulling him out now, I probably wouldn't have lasted this long. I do agree that you should wait to cool down before you decide.

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I can look up my 5th grader's grades online, does your school have something like that?

This "But, last night we had his conference. It was an epic, complete disaster that has my husband (normally fairly calm and rational) reeling with anger." 

Seems like an extreme reaction to a pretty normal sounding conference. Not a great conference, not what you hoped for--I get that--but no not a horrific disaster. We just had parent teacher conferences here as well, my 5th grader's teacher also spent time talking about 6th grade.

If your primary concern is knowing what is going on at school and how your child is doing academically I would start by emailing the teacher.

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Personally, I don't think you're nuts. But I do think that you haven't been thrilled with any of this for months now, unless I'm confusing you with someone else, and maybe instead of this being the worst conference ever, it was simply the tipping point for both of you that confirmed all of your doubts and suspicions of why you weren't happy and that's why you're reacting so strongly. That's what I would be talking about with my dh. Why did we both have this type of reaction. 

I know from when oldest was in PS in jr high and everything transitioned to online grades those grades became pointless as far as me knowing what was going on. Teacher feedback came to a screeching halt. Electronic systems did nothing to improve teacher/parent communication. Dds not a talker so it wasn't like she was filling my ear when she came home with what they did that day......... A numeric grade on an online program (when the teachers bothered to enter them) doesn't tell you what they are working on, or how well the kid is comprehending it. People who are used to dealing with paper feedback don't get what a huge difference that makes on even just seeing your kids' answers, tests, handwriting and everything else. I felt like everything suddenly became top secret- especially when the school wouldn't show me tests or anything else when I asked. What was the big deal?!? Anyway, just to say, I get it. I didn't have some big showdown moment. It was simply a culmination of a long period of bad and annoying feelings and feedback and finally it hits a tipping point. Maybe you've hit yours. 

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As far as the advice you asked for, why does your son want to stay in school? 

I pulled both my 9th grader and my 2nd grader out in January but in both cases it was what the child wanted as well as what I thought would be best for them. If your child is strongly opposed to homeschooling that changes the equation significantly; while we get the final say on such decisions as parents I would need to feel very strongly about the rightness of a decision for my child if the child themself was opposed.

What are your main concerns? Social influences, academics, bullying? Do you think your child will thrive better at home? 

Edited by maize

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Since your son doesn’t want to leave the school, I would ask him to tell you about what he’s learning, friends and so on.  

If he is happy, I would not pull him based on a bad teacher conference.

I go to some teacher conferences so as to meet teachers and show my own existence, but I don’t go to all of them, and don’t have high expectations for them.  We also have “student led conferences” which, whether they are a good idea or not, are a “thing” and not a teacher’s fault.  

My understanding is that there is some benefit to the child (or to some children) in taking some control and ownership even if it seems a bit silly.   I think that is more the goal than information to the parent.  

It is usually possible to make a special appointment with a teacher or exchange email if you have a particular question or concerns.

 

I’d suggest contacting her and saying you don’t know what to make of her laughing about things like the question about his organization skills when he said he thought he was doing well.  Does she think that’s true, or that he isn’t, or what?

Also, as parent you must have some view yourself.  Is he often forgetting  his backpack or other supplies at home, for example? Can he find his shoes and socks in the morning? Is he often late for the bus?

You might also ask your son his impression of the conference and how he takes what you took as upsetting snickering and laughing.  He knows her better than you do.  

Edited by Pen

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Btw: last year my son’s school had only student led conferences.  Parents commented that they still wanted to hear from teachers so this year there are a mix of student led ones, and teacher led ones, and option of teacher-parent without student present also.

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Another thought,

if you talk to teacher, it might be helpful to know what responses from you are supposed to be helpful during a student led conference.  

 

Edited by Pen
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It sounds like you're not a fan of student led conferences.  

Neither am I.  

I think that a parent-teacher conference should be between the parent and the teacher.  I want to be able to talk about my student freely and not worry about what he hears. 

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6 hours ago, bolt. said:

Teaching and leading parent conferences are completely different skills. If you are evaluating the teacher’s competence in the classroom, I encourage you to focus on any evidence you have that relates to those skills. I don’t think you can extrapolate much from the conference scenario to the classroom scenario.

It probably isn’t her decision whether to have a student-led conference, and she probably isn’t free to do it differently. She didn’t have prepared comments because it wasn’t her job to do that right then. It also isn’t really in the ‘teaching’ job discription to report progress (or weaknesses) to parents apart from report cards — which are incredibly hard work, done off-hours for no pay. It’s not reasonable for her to be able to do that verbally, at the drop of a hat, for each and every student.

It sounds like your son is doing fine, and he isn’t very distinctive in the classroom. I think maybe you found her manner dismissive and that you just wish there was a bit more parent-teacher partnership going on. You could probably initiate some of the communication that you are hoping to see. I don’t think she would resist it — I just think that your disappointment that it isn’t already happening might be misplaced.


I wonder Bolt-have you been a teacher in a public school classroom? Because I have-and I can tell you with 100% confidence that yep, that was absolutely my job. It was my job to prepare comments, report progress and weaknesses. Now, did I have to give statistics? No. But I had a folder with each student's work that I showed the parents, along with test scores. Furthermore, I greeted each parent and each child as they entered my room by name. I then proceeded to say something positive about the child to the parents-because there's always something positive. I gave specific ideas of things they could work on, personal to each child. You will never convince me otherwise that what I experienced is "normal". 

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40 minutes ago, Pen said:

Another thought,

if you talk to teacher, it might be helpful to know what responses from you are supposed to be helpful during a student led conference.  

The teacher may have been very uncomfortable if the expectation is that parents are supposed to listen to the child in an interested and supportive way.  And to give the child the chance to take the lead.  She may have felt that you were undermining what your son was supposed to be achieving as a major conference participant.

What you did might be like seeing your child’s art work, and saying, I’m so over this, don’t show me my kid’s juvenile attempts to paint, show me your own teacher level art work— and missing that it is your own child’s art (or in this case his best efforts to lead the conference) that is what is the important thing. He isn’t expected to be a pro.  But you are probably expected to be as appreciative of his fumbling efforts to lead the conference as of first baby steps when learning to walk.

If you go to any future student led conferences think of it as attending a lowest level anything recital that you admire the cute bumbling efforts to dance or scrape out twinkle twinkle...

And you might even consider apologizing to your son if you didn’t understand what was supposed to be happening and if he felt like you weren’t paying him the attention he was supposed to get.  

 

So, if that's what was supposed to be going on...wouldn't that be something that my son should've been aware of? Because the sheet that she shoved in front of him was nothing that he had ever seen before. I asked him if she talked to the kids about them leading the conference, and he said no. He was expected to give comments on the following things (and he obviously had no idea what they even meant). So it was mostly him saying "I don't know". It was awkward.

-task initiation
-working memory
-metacognition
 

Edited by Meadowlark
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2 hours ago, JoJosMom said:

I'm sorry, but perhaps I'm missing something. I am reading the OP that the parent did, in fact, ask the teacher for feedback, and the teacher refused to provide any.

 

The problem is that at a student led conference with student present and supposed to lead isn’t the right time.  

The real “fail” I see is that the school didn’t adequately prepare the parents about what to expect and what their role is.  As a consequence I expect it likely that everyone ended up feeling upset rather than it fulfilling its purpose in even a slight way: 

(from a link I gave above:) 

“Now, the purpose of a student-led conference is to empower the student.

“ The experience is designed for ownership, collaboration, and reflection. ...”. (By the student, that is...  and even a baby step in this regard can actually be helpful IME at this point.)  

 

 

 
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Definitely a teacher should be able to give feedback about students, and it's part of the job.  It's not some weird extra.

But it sounds like the school's policy with this conference was something else, which sucks but doesn't really necessarily mean he's not being well-served by the school, kwim?

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1 hour ago, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

Personally, I don't think you're nuts. But I do think that you haven't been thrilled with any of this for months now, unless I'm confusing you with someone else, and maybe instead of this being the worst conference ever, it was simply the tipping point for both of you that confirmed all of your doubts and suspicions of why you weren't happy and that's why you're reacting so strongly. That's what I would be talking about with my dh. Why did we both have this type of reaction. 

I know from when oldest was in PS in jr high and everything transitioned to online grades those grades became pointless as far as me knowing what was going on. Teacher feedback came to a screeching halt. Electronic systems did nothing to improve teacher/parent communication. Dds not a talker so it wasn't like she was filling my ear when she came home with what they did that day......... A numeric grade on an online program (when the teachers bothered to enter them) doesn't tell you what they are working on, or how well the kid is comprehending it. People who are used to dealing with paper feedback don't get what a huge difference that makes on even just seeing your kids' answers, tests, handwriting and everything else. I felt like everything suddenly became top secret- especially when the school wouldn't show me tests or anything else when I asked. What was the big deal?!? Anyway, just to say, I get it. I didn't have some big showdown moment. It was simply a culmination of a long period of bad and annoying feelings and feedback and finally it hits a tipping point. Maybe you've hit yours. 

No online grades here, but new "standards based" report cards. So the report card is 5 pages of things that he either met or has not met. It's a confusing, jumbled up mess that we couldn't make heads or tails out of. No grades, obviously. I think what's bothered me most of all is just that there has been NO work, tests, or anything else come home at all. I haven't seen one single test or piece of work of my sons, in any subject. It's like I send him there for 7 hours and yet have no idea what he's doing. And you are right, this has been a long time coming. I have cooled off though, and pulling him is highly unlikely since he does not want to. But I will be scheduling another conference with the teacher asking for more information, work, tests, etc.

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Just now, Pen said:

 

The problem is that at a student led conference with student present and supposed to lead isn’t the right time.  

The real “fail” I see is that the school didn’t adequately prepare the parents about what to expect and what their role is.  As a consequence I expect it likely that everyone ended up feeling upset rather than it fulfilling its purpose in even a slight way: 

(from a link I gave above:) 

“Now, the purpose of a student-led conference is to empower the student.

“ The experience is designed for ownership, collaboration, and reflection. ...”. (By the student, that is...  and even a baby step in this regard can actually be helpful IME at this point.)  

 

 

 

But when is the right time? Seriously, if I can't expect to hear something about my kid at conferences, then I don't know what the right time is.

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10 hours ago, freesia said:

I do not think you are nuts, but I do recommend pulling back and letting your emotions settle before you make the decision--particularly as it is not what he wants.

From what you wrote, it seems that your problem is more with the teacher than how he is actually doing/what he is learning.  I hear you don't like the communication and you don't like her.  But the fact she doesn't really know your child doesn't mean he's being mistreated or not learning anything .  I would think if he was not doing okay she would have found a way to tell you.  Maybe you can ask for another conference with just her.  It is completely justified that you want/need to know how he is doing and if he is learning anything.  But I think, in your exact situation, the only way I'd pull him unwillingly is bullying or clear verbal (and definitely physical) abuse from the teacher.

Good, logical points. I am calming down. I actually have no idea what he's learning, so I guess my problem is both. And yes, I will be asking for another conference.

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2 minutes ago, Meadowlark said:

So, if that's what was supposed to be going on...wouldn't that be something that my son should've been aware of? Because the sheet that she shoved in front of him was nothing that he had ever seen before. I asked him if she talked to the kids about them leading the conference, and he said no. He was expected to give comments on the following things (and he obviously had no idea what they even meant). So it was mostly him saying "I don't know". It was awkward.

 

7 minutes ago, Meadowlark said:

-talk initiation
-working memory
-metacognition

 

It sounds like it wasn’t well handled by anyone.

nonetheless, I wouldn’t make that a reason to pull your son out if he is happy there.

Could you watch the video I linked together with him to all understand what they are ideally supposed to be like?

and perhaps express that you feel frustrated because you don’t know what is going on and whether he is learning or not.  Maybe he can help answer that, which really is probably more important in the long run than this teacher and her opinions.  

 

Would it be helpful to spend a little while with him exploring what those 3 concepts mean? They might be pretty advanced for 5th grade, but could be worth a short rabbit trail.

4 minutes ago, Meadowlark said:

But when is the right time? Seriously, if I can't expect to hear something about my kid at conferences, then I don't know what the right time is.

 

At a separate conference with just the teacher.

Student- led - conferences really aren’t conferences, I think they should have used a different term that would not confuse parents.  

It’s more like a show and tell time for the child. 

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Well, it's clearly not at conferences.  They are, in this school, for another purpose.

I would be concerned if you email the teacher and say hey, how is my kid doing?  Do you have any work samples you can send home with him?  What are his weaknesses and strengths? and she either doesn't respond or is very brief.  I would then cc the principal and ask for clarification.

btw, I think (and as a former teacher I bet you have this sense too) that teachers are often intimidated somewhat by previous homeschoolers, esp the kind with involved, active parents.  I wonder if she was nervous at the conference.  I know there are some teachers who are great with kids but terrible with adults.

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Mine were talking about metacognition in kindergarten.  they had this whole focus on the student owning her own learning, or something like that.  It was pretty weird for K-ers.

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1 minute ago, moonflower said:

Well, it's clearly not at conferences.  They are, in this school, for another purpose.

I would be concerned if you email the teacher and say hey, how is my kid doing?  Do you have any work samples you can send home with him?  What are his weaknesses and strengths? and she either doesn't respond or is very brief.  I would then cc the principal and ask for clarification.

 

I agree.  

And yet if child is happy and with 3 months to go I still wouldn’t pull for reasons of poor teacher communication.

If he’s not done something he should have I’d just as soon do some work on it during the summer.  

 

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My first thought was that she isn’t allowed to tell you about the student’s progress with the student sitting there.  The snicker could have been a wry snicker like, “Oh, sister, I wish I could but my hands are tied and I’m stuck just like you are.”  I wasn’t there, so I can’t tell, but it crossed my mind.

I agree with others that it wasn’t communicated to you properly what this conference was really about.  It sounds like if you want real feedback from the teacher, you’ll have to try to get it without the student present.

Edited by Garga
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21 minutes ago, moonflower said:

  I know there are some teachers who are great with kids but terrible with adults.

When I teach preschoolers with a teen helper, I’m amazing. The feedback I get is that the kids love me.  

I’ve been teaching a preschool co-op class with 3 parents as my helpers and I’m just not as good.  I haven’t received feedback to that effect, but I don’t feel like I’m on my game with the 3 parents in the room.  Those parents intimidate me and I’m not as natural around the kids as I am with the teen helpers.  

Yes, it’s my hang up and I wish I could relax, but I can certainly see a teacher being intimidated by parents and being nervous.

Edited by Garga
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Our school often doesn’t even have a teacher of my son present during his student led conferences, so that whole area is removed.  

They have some teacher in each of a few open rooms, and chairs and tables, and a stack of folders that the students prepared with work samples etc.  

So we go in, the student finds his folder, guides parent through, parent asks questions of the student, admires the work samples, thanks the student and so forth.  This is high school level, btw.  

This year they added email in advance requesting parents to help their student come up with 2 goals in advance of the next student led conferences.  So far my student came up with one goal...   it is what it is...

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This one is much longer and specific to a fifth grade. I only watched a few minutes.  It seems to be where the teacher really wanted to have student led conferences — which I suspect may work better than when they are mandated by principal or school board.  

 

11 hours ago, Garga said:

My first thought was that she isn’t allowed to tell you about the student’s progress with the student sitting there.  The snicker could have been a wry snicker like, “Oh, sister, I wish I could but my hands are tied and I’m stuck just like you are.”  I wasn’t there, so I can’t tell, but it crossed my mind.

 

That could well be.   I don’t know if that is reason for the “snicker,” but certainly it is true that my understanding of student led conferences is that teacher does not answer the parent’s questions.  Parent is supposed to ask the student questions (generally soft ball ones that the student will be able to answer). 

It might also supposed to help initiate dialogue directly between parent and child student about what is going on in school.  

Provided a model for them to learn to communicate about this.  

Though I expect in some families common conversation elements include parent saying something like, “what did you do in school today,” or, “I was talking to so and so and she said her son was learning about ___ in math, and that made me wonder what you’re learning in math” and so forth. 

Quote

 

I agree with others that it wasn’t communicated to you properly what this conference was really about.  It sounds like if you want real feedback from the teacher, you’ll have to try to get it without the student present.

 

I agree.

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53 minutes ago, Meadowlark said:

But when is the right time? Seriously, if I can't expect to hear something about my kid at conferences, then I don't know what the right time is.

 

My kids’ public schools said to set up an appointment with the teacher. The parent teacher conference has the student present while the parent appointment doesn’t. I asked to see my kid’s work and tests. His teacher took out an inch of papers of his tests and work to discuss with me. The school’s policy was the teacher keeps the work for work samples in her/his classroom cabinet just in case they get audited. They even show me the textbooks and other curriculum if I ask.

I have had these private parent teacher meetings and the teachers have always been obliging as long as I let them know what I want to know through email when I make the appointment. They took an hour or more to talk with me about my kid and how to help him.

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Here’s one that does a nice job, IMO, of combining student-led part and teacher led part.  I don’t know it it’s genuine or was staged/rehearsed.  I’ve not seen any that seemed to go this well irl.  But I don’t have as outgoing dc as the one in this clip.  Even if ones school doesn’t allow teacher to lead a part, I think the parent’s questions and congratulations to her son are good models for what, as I understand it, the parent is supposed to do to show positive interest and support to the child.

 

 

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You got 2 parent teacher conferences?  My school only does one per year.  15 minutes per kid.  And most of it is spent on generic stuff. 

If I were you, I would decide what information I wanted from the teacher and send her an email concisely asking for that info.

I agree that it's a problem if you never see work from class or homework or any evidence of what he's learning.  I would ask the teacher to send something home at least once in a while.  If she does not provide a satisfactory answer, then given that she's so new, I could see taking it up a level to confirm what the school's policy is - and to suggest a change if the school policy matches what your son's teacher does.

If you are wondering how your son behaves in school etc., then I think you know what you need to know:  he behaves fine, or you would have been informed otherwise by now.

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I understand your frustration because I'm a teacher, too.  After a really disappointing meeting with a school my DS attended, growing concerns about the academic, emotional, and spiritual direction of the community, DH and I agreed to pull DS from the school when the school year ended.  This was helped by the fact that DS wanted to come home, too.  

We used the remainder of DS's year at the school to come up with a plan, and it has been a truly enjoyable school year.  I've watched him regain lost ground in math, latin, and writing.  Socially, I've watched him go from reserved and  anxious, to laughing and reading his papers for his class.  

Just sharing this because those meetings, the ones where you walk away with your head spinning... they're disorienting.  Take some time while DS is finishing his spring semester to evaluate if this school is meeting his academic needs.  If it's not, start thinking about options.  Let that conversation evolve with your DS and show him what next year could look like at another school, homeschool, co op, etc.  You may find he simply can't imagine an educational environment outside of the one he's in currently.  Heck, it's hard for ME to imagine an educational environment outside of the one we're in... so thinking about options gives me room to breathe, too.  And you may find it lands you right back at your current school.    

      

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I wonder if perhaps what to expect at your school ‘s student led conferences was explained to parents when the program was started and for parents in whatever grade it starts, but you missed it due to coming in to the school later from homeschooling?

I wonder if same problem could exist for this teacher who came in new—perhaps she too could have missed learning about how to prepare both students and parents for the student led conferences?

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12 hours ago, Meadowlark said:

No online grades here, but new "standards based" report cards. So the report card is 5 pages of things that he either met or has not met. It's a confusing, jumbled up mess that we couldn't make heads or tails out of. No grades, obviously. I think what's bothered me most of all is just that there has been NO work, tests, or anything else come home at all. I haven't seen one single test or piece of work of my sons, in any subject. It's like I send him there for 7 hours and yet have no idea what he's doing. And you are right, this has been a long time coming. I have cooled off though, and pulling him is highly unlikely since he does not want to. But I will be scheduling another conference with the teacher asking for more information, work, tests, etc.

 

12 hours ago, Meadowlark said:

Good, logical points. I am calming down. I actually have no idea what he's learning, so I guess my problem is both. And yes, I will be asking for another conference.

 

There’s probably a major communication gap where they think that 5 pages of details on what he has / hasn’t learned will have given far more information than the standard report card with grades system — but for you it’s just a confusing mess!

 

 I think asking for the information you want directly from the teacher is a good idea. When you schedule let her know exactly what you want (work samples etc) so she can pull it together for you.

Do you know if his class has tests and individual work samples on paper that can be shown to you versus project oriented learning or other ways to learn and demonstrate what has been learned? 

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With three months left, it doesn't matter whether you stay or go.  If you go, there will be decompressing and you have about 10 weeks of academics to come up with and social ops to provide. If you stay, you can use those 10 weeks to determine what was done academically and what you want to do about it his placement for next year.

Me, I looked at the standards based report card and realized the school had zero intention of teaching anyone anything above 'just passing'.  So, the condition of staying in school was that the kiddo had to work with me to stay on grade level or higher, at the proficient level. He used his time wisely in fifth to read, and that left math and composition for me during the school year, then remediation of penmanship and spelling over the summer. All of the rest he had learned from scouting -- field trips to historical places, the TV studio etc.  As a teacher, you know how to read grade level standards...and you know how to evaluate.  Have him write an essay, check his independent reading level, and use something like a Singapore Math placement test to figure his math out.  Did he grow academically?  

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3 hours ago, Pen said:

 

 

There’s probably a major communication gap where they think that 5 pages of details on what he has / hasn’t learned will have given far more information than the standard report card with grades system — but for you it’s just a confusing mess!

 

 I think asking for the information you want directly from the teacher is a good idea. When you schedule let her know exactly what you want (work samples etc) so she can pull it together for you.

Do you know if his class has tests and individual work samples on paper that can be shown to you versus project oriented learning or other ways to learn and demonstrate what has been learned? 

I really don't know, but I guess I'm about to find out!

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4 hours ago, Doodlebug said:

I understand your frustration because I'm a teacher, too.  After a really disappointing meeting with a school my DS attended, growing concerns about the academic, emotional, and spiritual direction of the community, DH and I agreed to pull DS from the school when the school year ended.  This was helped by the fact that DS wanted to come home, too.  

We used the remainder of DS's year at the school to come up with a plan, and it has been a truly enjoyable school year.  I've watched him regain lost ground in math, latin, and writing.  Socially, I've watched him go from reserved and  anxious, to laughing and reading his papers for his class.  

Just sharing this because those meetings, the ones where you walk away with your head spinning... they're disorienting.  Take some time while DS is finishing his spring semester to evaluate if this school is meeting his academic needs.  If it's not, start thinking about options.  Let that conversation evolve with your DS and show him what next year could look like at another school, homeschool, co op, etc.  You may find he simply can't imagine an educational environment outside of the one he's in currently.  Heck, it's hard for ME to imagine an educational environment outside of the one we're in... so thinking about options gives me room to breathe, too.  And you may find it lands you right back at your current school.    

      

This is his last year at the school because it's K-5. So thankfully, I won't ever have to deal with this particular teacher again. I also wanted to add that my other 3 kids went to this school the year prior, so I went to 8 total conferences. None, and I mean none, were student led. This particular kid's 4th grade teacher in fact spent the entire conference showing me scores, work samples, and talking about my son-how he was adjusting after homeschooling, things he noticed on the playground, etc. It was personal. It was what I expected. So the notion that this school only does student-led conferences is just not accurate-this is the only teacher that has run a conference this way. 

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5 minutes ago, Meadowlark said:

This is his last year at the school because it's K-5. So thankfully, I won't ever have to deal with this particular teacher again. I also wanted to add that my other 3 kids went to this school the year prior, so I went to 8 total conferences. None, and I mean none, were student led. This particular kid's 4th grade teacher in fact spent the entire conference showing me scores, work samples, and talking about my son-how he was adjusting after homeschooling, things he noticed on the playground, etc. It was personal. It was what I expected. So the notion that this school only does student-led conferences is just not accurate-this is the only teacher that has run a conference this way. 

Student led has been the standard here for as long as I have had kids in school. Even my kindergartner's conference was student led; we moved to different stations around the room where he was supposed to demonstrate for me what he could do (read, write, count, etc.) and we only met with the teacher for a couple of minutes at the end. 

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17 hours ago, Meadowlark said:

 


I wonder Bolt-have you been a teacher in a public school classroom? Because I have-and I can tell you with 100% confidence that yep, that was absolutely my job. It was my job to prepare comments, report progress and weaknesses. Now, did I have to give statistics? No. But I had a folder with each student's work that I showed the parents, along with test scores. Furthermore, I greeted each parent and each child as they entered my room by name. I then proceeded to say something positive about the child to the parents-because there's always something positive. I gave specific ideas of things they could work on, personal to each child. You will never convince me otherwise that what I experienced is "normal". 

I’m thinking you prepared these things for parent-teacher conferences? I wouldn’t expect a teacher to have those things ready at the drop of a hat for every student. Could parents just expect to have that type of conversation with you any day, without warning?

This teacher was not giving a parent-teacher conference: she was hosting a student led conference. Otherwise, it was an ordinary day. Why would she have a work file or prepared comments ready?

Obviously, it would be part of a teacher’s job to prepare comments and samples for conferences that were scheduled by her school and/or requested by a parent.

It seems like a simple case of mismatched expectations. The parent saw that the teacher was handy, and wanted some services. The teacher was busy doing what she was assigned to do (by the school) and was unready to have that type of a meeting spontaneously. Not really a big deal. I’m sure you can have the kind of meeting you want just by asking for it.

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Some schools have gotten so secretive!!

I hear more and more often that schools don't send any completed work home with the kids.  So then, "conferences" are spent having the child show the parent carefully selected "work samples".  (Back in the old days, we didn't need a "child-led conference", we just naturally showed our parents our work as we pulled it from our backpack.)  And then it seems that parents who actually want to hear the teacher's opinion on how the child is doing need to specially request and schedule appointments.

It just seems like another way the public schools are trying to wrest more time and control away from families.  They control the children's work, they control what is allowed to be discussed at "conferences" which are actually more like staged presentations, they decide when and how parents can monitor their children's educations.  "Just keep the money flowing and leave the educating to us.  Trust us, it'll be fine!!"

NO!!  I don't want to just assume that my kid is doing well enough because he has some checkmarks on a skill list and I haven't gotten any disciplinary reports.  I'm aiming higher than good enough, and I want the school to keep me well informed so that I can decide for myself if I need to work with my child on punctuation over the summer or hire a math tutor or start introducing social stories to help them interact better in a group.  Ideally parents should be involved with and responsible for their child's education, and I think it is morally reprehensible for schools to impede the parents' ability to adequately monitor and assess the education they are paying for.

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UG.   Usually, I like to give the teachers the benefit of the doubt, but it being a first year teacher I'm thinking this is major warning signs going off.   If it was earlier in the year I'd say pull him...but it's 3 months, and that's something you can make up in the summer easily in homeschool if he's not learning much and if he actually likes it.    But if the social stuff is really getting to him, I'd pull him in a heartbeat. 

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