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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

School issues for Tessa

We've been dealing with some issues with Tessa at school this year. She has a lot of trouble finishing her work on time. I've met with her teacher, who feels as though Tessa doesn't have a learning disability (like ADD or dyslexia, both of which Brian has so she stood a chance of having them, too). Her teacher thinks she is just on the immature side.

I agree that she's immature. It's probably mostly my fault because I've babied her. In some ways, I regret this, because of the trouble she is having now, but on the other hand, I still think children should be children as long as they can.

At our parent teacher conference last week, she said a few things that didn't set well with me. She said Tessa could get an IEP for immaturity. I know this is not true. She has to be diagnosed with a learning disability, which we don't think she has. I questioned the teacher about a diagnosis, and she went on to say that her scores on an achievement test would be a diagnosis. I don't believe this. I've been told and have read that she has to be diagnosed with a learning disability before getting an IEP. I was also told it has to be done by a licensed child psychologist or a doctor for this to happen. Later, she told me she expected Tessa to regress when Ella arrives and that school would be her safe haven. That made me cry.

So, this afternoon, Tessa came and sat down on my lap and layed her head against me. She said, "I had a bad day today." I made her tell me what happened. For the past week or so, she has been hiding the work she doesn't get finished with inside her desk. I guess her teacher found out today about it. Well, she made Tessa stand aside, picked up her desk and shook all the papers out in front of the whole class. Tessa said her school box flew out, broke open and her crayons went everywhere. She humiliated my girl in front of everyone. I am in tears just typing that.

Tessa said she stood there about to cry and shaking from being afraid, and the teacher told her that she better not cry, that she would send her to the principal's office. We were at my aunt's house when she told me this, and we were both horrified about it. It's one thing to scold a child or reprimand her; it's quite another to humiliate her in front of the entire class. She said everyone was staring at her while she tried to pick up her crayons and afterward, too.

Then, a little while later, she didn't let Tessa leave when the school day ended. She told her she couldn't go home until her work was done, and she would just have to miss the bus. Of course, this frightens Tessa because it's her way home. If her teacher had caused her to miss the bus, she would have called me. What if I worked outside the home and couldn't have come then? Last year at this time, I was working in Tullahoma and couldn't have been there in time to get her. How is it fair to a child to do that?

I am going to pursue a meeting between me, the teacher and the principal. I actually interviewed him this summer because it's his first job as a principal. He's been an assistant principal for a few years and has worked with at-risk students during that time. He is also dyslexic, so he knows what students with problems go through. I don't think he will like the teacher humiliating her that way. I've talked to a few online teacher friends who said the teacher's behavior wasn't right. I was afraid my pregnancy hormones were causing me to freak out, but they were quick to reassure me that I wasn't.

Tonight, Tessa said, "I think she's just not the right teacher for me." I think she might be right. I hate to switch her around, but I don't want her to be in a class where the teacher is going to humiliate her and make her feel inferior.


Amy, queen of the world. said...

How long has this teacher been teaching??! Is she a new teacher? She sounds like one. No, immaturity is not grounds for an IEP. Yes, you can get an IEP based on a diagnosis of ADD that is unmedicated (it falls under the category of "Other, health impaired), but as you mentioned, she didn't feel like she had ADD. (I'm wondering now, though, if she even knows the SIGNS of it.) Otherwise, if she has a learning disability, she would need to be evaluated by a school psychometrist, or your personal physician can refer her to a psychologist. Dyslexia is such a broad term, and the testing at school these days basically looks for IQ/Achievement gaps in different academic areas, not necessarily what is causing those gaps. If you wanted a diagnosis of dyslexia, you might have to take her to a doctor who specializes in that specifically.

I would be outraged if my small child was humiliated at school like that too. Sometimes the big people at school forget that the people they're teaching really are LITTLE people. They're just learning. She couldn't have gone through her desk, put it all in a folder, and given her a place by herself to get it all done? She couldn't have called YOU to discuss that she just found a bunch of unfinished work in her desk? She couldn't have kept her in at recess to clean her own desk out and gather the papers?

I'm 100% for you setting up the meeting with the principal and teacher, and if you CAN have her switched, I would. I normally would NEVER recommend that to a parent, but as young as she is, this is her foundation. She can't start hating school this early. I have one in my third grade class who had a horrible relationship with his first grade teacher, and he still fights his mom every day about coming to school.

And.. you didn't cause her immaturity. Lots of people baby their kids, but they're able to function in the classroom. When is her birthday? Late school-year birthdays (April-August, usually) tend to be a little on the immature side. Then again, she could be in shut-down mode because of her craptastic teacher!!

Oh, and hi. I'm Amy. :)

Mom to 2 boys +? said...

That's ridiculous!!! You demand a meeting and that Tessa be switched to another class immediately!! An IEP for immaturity?! I'd also demand a written reprimand on the teacher. No child should ever be treated that way- Tessa is right, sometimes students and teachers don't fit. Ranger is in 2nd grade and their whole grade level (especially Ranger) is having problems getting work done. You are not over reacting

Anonymous said...

I think you are totally right to be upset with the way the teacher spoke and treated Tessa. This issue should most definitely be addressed with an administrator at school. I'm sorry Tessa is having a rough time :(

JenJen said...

You want me to drive up there and help set this lady straight...How ridiculous! I'm mad, too. I think the meeting is a good idea~ how is behavior like that supposed to encourage Tessa to do better in school?

I look forward to hearing how the meeting goes~

jenny_is_busy said...

I was like your daughter in school - complete with the desk cramped full of papers that got dumped out!
My problem ended up being that I couldn't comprehend the instructions on worksheets well-so the concept being taught was in my head but I had trouble showing it on the worksheets.

Could you imagine if someone shook out that teachers desk in front of her peers b/c she didn't submit her lesson plans?