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Meadowlark

Need advice-pulling out of PS NOW!

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I read through your posts last night and was later thinking of the "if he's happy, let him stay" comments.  As the parent, you are the better judge (than your child) of what is best.  If your (and your husband's) intuition tells you that he should leave the school now, then you should follow through on that.  You seem to have calmed down.  How is your husband feeling?   If it's only 3 months, you could let him stay, or you could have 3 months to make up his work and catch up at home. 

I did not see if you mentioned social issues, only in the post above mine.  Definitely, if there are social issues in addition to learning deficiencies, then I would pull him out.  I only wish my parents pulled me out at that age.  I switched from 1 private school to another at 5th grade.  The curriculum was very similar but the kids were not.  I ended up in the middle of kids who had all formed cliques, and I did not want to be the outcast.  I ended up with the popular but not very nice set, and I wish I could have told my parents or that they would have realized the problems.  I wasn't capable of realizing that this group of kids was not like any of the other (nice) kids I'd been friends with at my old school.  I knew that they acted differently but was really too innocent myself to realize the depth of the bad that was in them.   I would be really watchful of that when moving kids from homeschool into B&M schools.  In your situation, it may be a non issue with boys, but girls can be so mean.

Anyway, I just don't think you should feel pressured to keep him there if you are truly uncomfortable.

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23 hours 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.

-task initiation
-working memory
-metacognition
 

I wonder if the students are supposed to lead these conferences and they were supposed to spend time in school learning how to do so, but with all the snow days, the time for doing this was eliminated, making it super awkward for everyone?  

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I would not be happy not getting any work sent home at all and then having that kind of conference since you have gotten nothing back yet. I want to know what my kid is doing if they are going to school. I do not like the fact that the teacher seems so secretive and does not even seem to know the child at all. That was not typical at all when my kids went to school. I would maybe stick it out this school year since he wants to stay but since it is changing to computer only next year and they do not even tell you how a kid is doing I would not send him back there. 

Edited by MistyMountain

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As a parent, I would definitely want to have some work sent home! Have you emailed his teacher to find out what he's working on? It would be good to know how he's doing academically before you make any big decisions. 

As a teacher, who is not good at parent communication myself... I often forget to send work home. OFTEN. I'm so busy actually preparing and teaching that communication is often the last on my list. One of my professional goals this year is actually to be better at communicating with parents. I love my students and I actually love talking with their parents, too, but there is just so much to do! 

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17 hours ago, MistyMountain said:

I would not be happy not getting any work sent home at all and then having that kind of conference since you have gotten nothing back yet. I want to know what my kid is doing if they are going to school. I do not like the fact that the teacher seems so secretive and does not even seem to know the child at all. That was not typical at all when my kids went to school. I would maybe stick it out this school year since he wants to stay but since it is changing to computer only next year and they do not even tell you how a kid is doing I would not send him back there. 

Yes, I do believe we will "stick it out" for this year. This particular school is K-5 so he'd be changing next year anyway to middle school. So really, I only have 3 more months of this woman because I homeschool my younger kids and will never send them there. I did email her requesting another meeting so we will see how she responds to that. 

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18 hours ago, Terabith said:

I wonder if the students are supposed to lead these conferences and they were supposed to spend time in school learning how to do so, but with all the snow days, the time for doing this was eliminated, making it super awkward for everyone?  

This could be true, although I've had a total of 9 other conferences at this school with other teachers, and not once was the conference "student led". So it's more likely this was just this particular teacher's style and nothing that the school mandated.

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23 hours ago, bolt. said:

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.

I'm thoroughly confused at the bolded above.

1. What do you mean a drop of a hat? This conference was planned 3 weeks prior.
2. Why would she have a work file or prepared comments ready? Because that's her job.
3. The conferences WERE scheduled by the school.
4. I saw that she was "handy"? What on earth? It was a scheduled conference!
5. I did. 
 

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13 minutes ago, Meadowlark said:

I'm thoroughly confused at the bolded above.

1. What do you mean a drop of a hat? This conference was planned 3 weeks prior.
2. Why would she have a work file or prepared comments ready? Because that's her job.
3. The conferences WERE scheduled by the school.
4. I saw that she was "handy"? What on earth? It was a scheduled conference!
5. I did. 
 

1. A student-led conference was planned weeks earlier. No parent-teacher conference was planned whatsoever. Other than having students lead conferences that day, it was an ordinary school day, like every other day. If she isn’t conference-ready every day (at the drop of a hat) I don’t expect her to be particularly ready that day.

2. Her job was to plan, host, and coordinate a student-led discussion for each student to have with his/her own parents. That’s a quite a bit of work. It’s a tough day to add a spontaneous parent meeting into.

3. The student-led conferences were planned by the school. If the school doesn’t plan a parent-teacher conference, it doesn’t fall to the teacher to prepare for one anyways.

4. I know you were there anyways, for the student-led conference — but you weren’t invited to a teacher’s conference. There *wasn’t* a parent-teacher conference that day. From your perspective, you thought there was supposed to one, so you expected one: fair enough. From her perspective, you just sprung it on her that you were hoping to squeeze in a spontaneous parent-teacher conversation, and she wasn’t able to oblige you. She redirected your attention to the student and proceeded with the student-led conference as planned.

5. Meetings like the one you want require some lead time, do it makes sense that she couldn’t immediately meet your request during the student-led conference activity. Maybe send an email to request a meeting ‘sometime this week or next’ and add that you are hoping to see some work samples and would like her opinions about your student’s strengths and weaknesses in the classroom.

To me, you walked into a pizza shop and were disappointed that they weren’t serving burgers. Definitely, they really should have done a better job of setting school-wide expectations about student led conferences. Expectation management is important. (Ours does. Your reaction certainly explains a bit about why my kid’s school is so firmly clear in the notification about what to expect from a student-led conference — and how set up an additional meeting with the teacher if you want one. I can see why someone might feel that this is a bait-and-switch from a parent-teacher conference.)

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Yes to all of what Bolt said. At my school, student-led conferences are required. Students spend weeks preparing portfolios and a presentation. The first year I taught there, *I* spent weeks preparing all the data you mentioned dyou wanted during a P-T conference. It was a huge waste of my time since no parents asked and I wasn't allowed to give out the information with the student present anyway.

Student-led conferences are the current trend. Since your son's teacher is fresh out of teaching college, this is likely the way she has been taught to lead or conduct conferences as it is the new way. I agree with you that I prefer the old school parent-teacher conferences, but those days are gone. Unless educational philosophy shifts significantly, we aren't going back to those. All the podcasts, bloggers, administration instruction (which yes, goes in your formal evaluation) is in favor of the student-led conference. I agree that if you need more information, you may want to schedule an additional meeting, probably with the school counselor present as well.

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To be fair, reading the OP it does not sound like her kiddo was prepared to be part of a student-led conference that people here are talking about. There didn't seem to be many "weeks of preparing portfolios and a presentation" by the OP's kiddo.

If that's really what it was and it really happened as the OP described then the teacher failed on many counts, not the least of which being communication with the parents and preparation with the student.

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54 minutes ago, FairProspects said:

Yes to all of what Bolt said. At my school, student-led conferences are required. Students spend weeks preparing portfolios and a presentation. The first year I taught there, *I* spent weeks preparing all the data you mentioned dyou wanted during a P-T conference. It was a huge waste of my time since no parents asked and I wasn't allowed to give out the information with the student present anyway.

Student-led conferences are the current trend. Since your son's teacher is fresh out of teaching college, this is likely the way she has been taught to lead or conduct conferences as it is the new way. I agree with you that I prefer the old school parent-teacher conferences, but those days are gone. Unless educational philosophy shifts significantly, we aren't going back to those. All the podcasts, bloggers, administration instruction (which yes, goes in your formal evaluation) is in favor of the student-led conference. I agree that if you need more information, you may want to schedule an additional meeting, probably with the school counselor present as well.

Just to clarify, the teacher is not fresh out of college. She has subbed for the past 10 years.

Also, I will reiterate that this is the 9th conference I have gone to and this school (8 of them being last year), and NONE of them have been student-led. So the notion that this school is all of a sudden going to student-led conferences is not likely.

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22 hours ago, bolt. said:

1. A student-led conference was planned weeks earlier. No parent-teacher conference was planned whatsoever. Other than having students lead conferences that day, it was an ordinary school day, like every other day. If she isn’t conference-ready every day (at the drop of a hat) I don’t expect her to be particularly ready that day.

2. Her job was to plan, host, and coordinate a student-led discussion for each student to have with his/her own parents. That’s a quite a bit of work. It’s a tough day to add a spontaneous parent meeting into.

3. The student-led conferences were planned by the school. If the school doesn’t plan a parent-teacher conference, it doesn’t fall to the teacher to prepare for one anyways.

4. I know you were there anyways, for the student-led conference — but you weren’t invited to a teacher’s conference. There *wasn’t* a parent-teacher conference that day. From your perspective, you thought there was supposed to one, so you expected one: fair enough. From her perspective, you just sprung it on her that you were hoping to squeeze in a spontaneous parent-teacher conversation, and she wasn’t able to oblige you. She redirected your attention to the student and proceeded with the student-led conference as planned.

5. Meetings like the one you want require some lead time, do it makes sense that she couldn’t immediately meet your request during the student-led conference activity. Maybe send an email to request a meeting ‘sometime this week or next’ and add that you are hoping to see some work samples and would like her opinions about your student’s strengths and weaknesses in the classroom.

To me, you walked into a pizza shop and were disappointed that they weren’t serving burgers. Definitely, they really should have done a better job of setting school-wide expectations about student led conferences. Expectation management is important. (Ours does. Your reaction certainly explains a bit about why my kid’s school is so firmly clear in the notification about what to expect from a student-led conference — and how set up an additional meeting with the teacher if you want one. I can see why someone might feel that this is a bait-and-switch from a parent-teacher conference.)

1. Hmm. I just went and looked at a former school newsletter in which it says the following:

"Parents-remember that parent/teacher conferences are scheduled next week" So indeed, they ARE parent/teacher conferences as defined by the school. 

2. I wonder what "work" this is that you speak of? She shoved a middle school schedule in front of my kid and told him that he needed certain skills to succeed in middle school. Then she shoved a paper in front of him asking him to comment on words that he didn't even the meanings of. There were no work examples, no anything. So please tell me, what work did she have to do to prepare for this?

3. No, see my remark above. The school planned parent/teacher conferences. 

4. Actually, yes I was. That's what I went online to sign up for as that's how it was defined by the school. 

I can get on board that things have shifted since I was in the classroom 10 years ago. But I can't get on board with us coming to a conference (of any definition) and having the teacher sit back in her chair after the first 10 minutes and say "I don't really have anything else". Well, she didn't have ANYTHING. And no, she did not prepare my son for leading any type of student-led conference either. So in reality, what I got was neither. So I know absolutely nothing more today than I did back in October the day after his first conference (which btw, was NOT student-led). I still don't buy that teachers are off the hook about giving information about their students, whether it's a student-led or an authentic parent/teacher conference. Sorry, we'll have to agree to disagree.

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58 minutes ago, Meadowlark said:

1. Hmm. I just went and looked at a former school newsletter in which it says the following:

"Parents-remember that parent/teacher conferences are scheduled next week" So indeed, they ARE parent/teacher conferences as defined by the school. 

2. I wonder what "work" this is that you speak of? She shoved a middle school schedule in front of my kid and told him that he needed certain skills to succeed in middle school. Then she shoved a paper in front of him asking him to comment on words that he didn't even the meanings of. There were no work examples, no anything. So please tell me, what work did she have to do to prepare for this?

3. No, see my remark above. The school planned parent/teacher conferences. 

4. Actually, yes I was. That's what I went online to sign up for as that's how it was defined by the school. 

I can get on board that things have shifted since I was in the classroom 10 years ago. But I can't get on board with us coming to a conference (of any definition) and having the teacher sit back in her chair after the first 10 minutes and say "I don't really have anything else". Well, she didn't have ANYTHING. And no, she did not prepare my son for leading any type of student-led conference either. So in reality, what I got was neither. So I know absolutely nothing more today than I did back in October the day after his first conference (which btw, was NOT student-led). I still don't buy that teachers are off the hook about giving information about their students, whether it's a student-led or an authentic parent/teacher conference. Sorry, we'll have to agree to disagree.

 

Because I contributed to this thread prior to details that have since been shared... because I support parents making wise/ hard choices on the behalf of their children... and because you seemed to want genuine feedback about measuring your own response in relation to this experience, I want to gently add that I see a lot of reacting in this thread. 

Your frustration with this teacher's approach is understandable. 

Pulling your DS when he has weeks left in a school he likes, is doing well in, AND you've satisfactorily seen three children through... Gently, that's 1/8 frustration and 7/8 reactionary.  

Arguing about the type of conference and its merits, or lack thereof... reactionary.

If you're making the teacher and her ineptness the center of your energy (as opposed to making a plan for your DS)... reactionary.  

This mode is helpful when I'm dealing with anger, but from experience, I think your S&*^ has hit the fan (maybe b/c of an entirely different stressor) and this thread is looking like anger/reaction splatter. 

Said with all the empathy of one who has been there.  ((((Meadowlark))))  

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1 hour ago, Doodlebug said:

 

Because I contributed to this thread prior to details that have since been shared... because I support parents making wise/ hard choices on the behalf of their children... and because you seemed to want genuine feedback about measuring your own response in relation to this experience, I want to gently add that I see a lot of reacting in this thread. 

Your frustration with this teacher's approach is understandable. 

Pulling your DS when he has weeks left in a school he likes, is doing well in, AND you've satisfactorily seen three children through... Gently, that's 1/8 frustration and 7/8 reactionary.  

Arguing about the type of conference and its merits, or lack thereof... reactionary.

If you're making the teacher and her ineptness the center of your energy (as opposed to making a plan for your DS)... reactionary.  

This mode is helpful when I'm dealing with anger, but from experience, I think your S&*^ has hit the fan (maybe b/c of an entirely different stressor) and this thread is looking like anger/reaction splatter. 

Said with all the empathy of one who has been there.  ((((Meadowlark))))  

Oh yes-for sure! Just be glad you don't live in my house because my husband heard a whole lot of my reactions for a few days, ha ha. Let's just say this was in fact the sh&^% that hit the fan. Already frustrated with what I've seen up until now-and then having this type of conference (without expecting it) just added fuel to the fire. But alas, I suppose now I will know what to expect and what the current trend is-student led conferences. No, don't agree with it and don't like it but it is what it is and the direction that things seem to be heading. But in the future, sure would be nice if the student was aware that it was a student led conference, or supposed to be.

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Curious if you have requested teacher-to- parent information yet and if so what result—unless too early due to holiday weekend.

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I do think it sounds like a weird sort of conference, especially if it wasn't particularly well organized for what it was (student-led) and it doesn't sound like it was useful to either you or your student.  

I never bring my kids to conferences, ever.  That would be so awkward!

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We don't have student led conferences here and from the description it doesn't sound like they would go over well with parents in my community.  That being said, do you have other access to the work they do, either through Power School or Google classroom or another on-line platform?  While some parents I know are fine with hearing that everything is great and there are no issues, others are in constant contact with the school and teachers.  If you considered this "conference" a non-conference then look at it as an extra meeting.  Can't you e-mail and/or call to schedule another appointment to talk about your child.  I know some parents that constantly e-mail teachers with questions or ask for calls.  Some just pop in after class. In my experience teachers have always been great about responding.

Teachers here are mandated to send an e-mail home to parents every quarter outlining how their students are doing and providing a general overview, from kindergarten through 12th grade.  If they will not come to you, you will have to go to them.

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I've never been involved in a student-led conference.  Honestly, I think it would be a waste of time for us.  My kids do bring home work every day, some homework and some graded work, so I have a fairly good sense of what my kids are learning and what they're struggling with.  Also, my kids can tell me stuff at home a lot easier than they could in front of a teacher.

I also personally like to talk about my kids behind their backs at the P-T conferences.  Like about learning struggles etc. that the teacher might not pick up on.

That said, if I was asked to bring my kid to the conference, that would be a heads-up that the kid was going to be doing at least part of the reporting.  I would roll my eyes and go with the flow.  And maybe schedule a separate meeting, kid-free, if I felt it necessary.

Honestly - I'm kinda over P-T conferences.  I would rather they just send home whatever papers.  If my kid does something rotten, tell me right away.  If she's failing, contact me for an intervention plan.  Otherwise, you do your job and I'll do mine.  😛  But, that's assuming the teacher's job includes regular communication / transparency about progress / performance.

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On 2/15/2019 at 9:49 AM, Meadowlark said:

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.

My experience with the public school has been pretty awful. And the way that teacher just laughed at him when he answered, intolerable!

 

Yeah, you should pull him out. I would already have him home. There is nothing they do there on a daily basis that makes today so important that it would be bad for your child to be home instead.

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18 hours ago, Pen said:

Curious if you have requested teacher-to- parent information yet and if so what result—unless too early due to holiday weekend.

Yes! It is scheduled. On another note, I had my other son's 6th grade conference last night. I felt like I seriously returned to planet earth! The two teachers that I spoke to had samples of his work to show me, gave me feedback on his grades, spoke about his strengths and weaknesses, and gave him things to work on, along with congratulating him for his great work and respectful attitude. There IS hope! Not all conferences out there are student-led, thank goodness. And since this is the (private) school that my other son will attend next year, I feel good. 

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1 minute ago, Meadowlark said:

Yes! It is scheduled. On another note, I had my other son's 6th grade conference last night. I felt like I seriously returned to planet earth! The two teachers that I spoke to had samples of his work to show me, gave me feedback on his grades, spoke about his strengths and weaknesses, and gave him things to work on, along with congratulating him for his great work and respectful attitude. There IS hope! Not all conferences out there are student-led, thank goodness. And since this is the (private) school that my other son will attend next year, I feel good. 

 

That’s good.  Increasingly high schools in our area are making student-led conferences mandatory for graduation, or for certain programs such as IB, perhaps.

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On 2/15/2019 at 11:02 PM, SKL said:

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.

 

We only have one per year as well.

 

And are you sure the teacher isn't sending work home rather than the work not arriving home?

We have to work hard at our house for my son's work to actually make it home. In either 4th or 5th grade (I forget) I didn't see school pictures until the end of the year because he found them when cleaning out his desk at school.  I had asked about them and he didn't think he'd ever gotten them...

 

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I would ask about the work. 

I had a parent comment the same thing (I work at a hybrid), and I was shocked since I return all graded work within a week. I asked the student, and he said he just threw it away! Ugg!!! Another kid never took out of his backpack to show his parent. We use an online gradebook so that helps with communication. 

I agree with others that you need to wait; do not make a decision while angry. 

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