Thursday, September 29, 2011

Gotta get it out.

Devan has really enjoyed going to school, and there has only been one evening where he has said he didn't want to go. I on the other hand have had a hard time having him in school! There has been some things going on with his teacher that have made things difficult. I feel so protective over my kids and never want their feelings hurt, or self image damaged (like any parent I'm sure).

As I have said before, on Devan's 3rd day of school he got moved to a new classroom. His original teacher, Ms. Hill, was the last teacher hired, and because of budget cuts they had to move her to a different school. Devan was put in Ms. Montalvo's class.

My first day picking Devan up from his new class I asked Ms. Montalvo how he did. She threw her arms up in the air and said, "He is so distracted! He just can't focus..." and went on about it RIGHT in front of Devan, RIGHT in front of his peers, RIGHT in front of all the other teachers. I could feel myself burning up inside. What did they expect, they moved him around from class to class, he's brand new to the whole school experience, and a 5 year old BOY. Isn't it kind of a given that he would be a bit distracted after all of that? I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt. After all, she had just unexpectedly received a couple new kids in her class, and maybe she was just stressed.

2nd day rolls around... more negative comments, nothing positive, and again in front of everyone...

3rd day rolls around... more negative, no positive, in front of everyone. I asked her, "Can you give me specifics so I can talk to him about it better, and know what to work on. Her reply, "It's just in general." In my head, "Thanks, that's really helpful :( !!! But what I really said, "Well, can we sit down and talk about it." I emailed her and set up a time to meet.

The 2nd week of school I was already having a one on one with the teacher, sigh* The meeting had a bit of good and a bit of bad. She gave me a write up with what has been going on in class. I could relate with her on some of it. I taught in Devan's preschool co-op for 2 years, and know it can be difficult to get him to focus in a group setting. She had assessed Devan and said he was where he should be as far as his letters and numbers go. The letter started with Devan is a sweet child... Yay a positive! The rest of the letter, for the most part, was VERY negative. Some things that were added seemed to be just personal annoyances "He has a tendency to stomp in line"... really? Other things that got under my skin, "He cannot sit still". He cannot? I've seen him sit still many times, I'm pretty sure he can. She quotes Devan, "Yeah uh, huh, uh, huh" "uh huh, uh huh". Just a few things to give you a picture of the letter.

At one point in the meeting she said. I'm not a fan of medicating children but... I cut in, "I'm not a fan either."

There were some good suggestions and comments made through the meeting. We talked about having the school psychologist and speech therapist come in and observe (I haven't heard anything back about this). She agreed that Devan is a bright boy, but has a different learning style. He learns best through active hands on activities. She said he already has a good foundation to continue learning, and is where he should be. She also said he does good socially and gets along well with the other students. I told her I would talk to Devan's pediatrician about him focusing, and also continue with some focusing activities we do at home.

Something I have found interesting is the kids are grade on behavior everyday. Green=Excellent, Yellow=Satisfactory, Orange, and then Red. The majority of days he has gotten green, he's gotten a couple yellow, and 1 orange. Her grading has left me a bit confused. Every day I have asked how he's done, I've only gotten negative feedback, yet, the majority of the time he gets a "green" mark.

Last week was the first week for homework. I had to read her instructions about 10 times, because they were unclear to me.

"All homework should be completed in the homework spiral and kept in your child’s BEE binder at the very back of the notebook. I will check homework spirals every Friday.

Write your sight words 5 times each using rainbow writing. Write 5 “an” family words. For example: ran, can, man, etc.

Create an ABC pattern at home. You may draw shapes, use crayons, clippings, or any material you can find."

I understood it as complete the homework in the back of the homework spiral. What it really meant was the homework spiral is in the back of the binder. I had no idea what rainbow writing is. Does this mean we write in different we write in an arch like a rainbow... what the heck is rainbow writing? When I picked Devan up from school he said, "I got a red today...and a green". I had no idea what he was talking about so I asked Ms. Montalvo. Her response, "You're suppose to do the homework in the front of the spiral". Me, "oh, I thought the newsletter said the back". Her, "No, start at the front". When I opened his notebook there was a big red frown face and "NO HOMEWORK" written in large letters. It was then crossed out, with a new message. "Complete homework at the front of the notebook." So apparently Devan showed her that he had completed his work, it was just where we thought we were suppose to have it. He got a smile on his homework, although, it took me awhile to figure out what it was... a very messy smile. For being so critical of Devan being messy I would think she would be a bit more neat, haha. This also made me think, If I can't even understand her directions, maybe Devan is having a hard time understanding what she wants. Does she present things to him in a clear way?

A few nights back I was tucking Devan into bed. Out of nowhere, he started tearing up. He said, "Mom, I want to stay home with you forever. I don't want to go to school." And then the tears began to fall. My heart sank. I tried my best to put on a positive encouraging face. "Buddy, what's wrong, why don't you want to go to school". Devan, "I don't know how to do my homework". Me, "That's ok, I always help you with your homework" Devan, "No, I mean at school, the homework I do at school. I glued the picture in the wrong spot, and they said I can't redo it. I didn't know how to do it." He was so sad. It completely broke my heart. I told him as long as he focuses on the teacher when she gives instructions I'm sure she won't mind if you ask for help... he seemed hesitant. I said, "Devan, as long as you are doing your best, I'll always be proud of you. Sometimes we don't get things right the first time, but that means we just try harder the next time". I just wanted to stay and hug him until he fell asleep. I HATE HATE HATE, seeing my kids feelings hurt. I understand if Devan isn't focusing while directions are being given, it would be very frusrating for a teacher. I NEVER want him to feel like he can't ask questions though, and NEVER want him to be embarrassed or scared to ask. I really hope his teacher hasn't made him feel this way.

A couple weeks earlier he was what seemed to be talking in his sleep, but he was sitting up. He was saying " just cann't do it mom... I just can't do it." I said "It's ok, Devan, you just do your best." and he drifted back to sleep. It gave me the chills though, and left me wondering, if he was feeling to much pressure from me, school, or both.

Iwalani and Bruce came over Labor day weekend, and it was helpful talking to them about it. After talking to Iwalani she said how much Devan sounded like Chad at this age. For those of you who know my husband, you know what a great, smart guy he is, so her comments left me feeling better about things. Bruce read the letter from his teacher, and I can't remember his words, probably something like "sack of garbage" (haha Bruce if you're reading this, you know that is totally something you would say!) Whatever his words were he gave it no merit. I really appreciated their comments and suggestions. Chad has talked with his Dad as well, and gotten great feedback. My mom, poor lady, has had to listen to me go on about this nearly every time I talk to her! She has been so supportive and offered great advice. I'm SO lucky to have these people in my life. They are such wonderful parents, and grandparents!

Today I took Devan to his pediatrician to get her take on things. She said she rarely will diagnose kindergarteners with ADD or ADHD. Kids this age in general have a hard time focusing, so it makes it a difficult diagnoses. At the end of my meeting with her, and after discussing the situations above she said, "This isn't a problem with your child. This is a teacher problem." She said, "You need to be his advocate, and escalate things to a higher level if you need to!" She also mentioned how unprofessional and negative her letters were.

I have parent teacher conference next week, and am anxious to see how things are going (I've stopped asking after school, I got sick and tired off hearing all the negative, and don't think Devan needs to be hearing it either!) I'm sure if something is important to report back to me she'll let me know all about it.

In the meantime, we are continuing to help Devan on focusing. I've tried really hard to keep his evenings after school very structured. He has a chore chart, and checks off his chores every day after school. We then do homework, have free play time, eat dinner, and go to bed. He's done very well with his routine. I've tried some other things as well. He's started taking fish oil, and I make him a high protein breakfast in the morning (these are both suppose to help with focus.

He's such a sweet fun boy, and I LOVE his personality. His teacher might have a easier time if he was just like every other kid, and learned just like every other kid, but he doesn't, and I'm not going to put him on medication so he will. Like my husband said, "Who has an easy job? I want one of those!" I think some teachers need to remember why they chose to be teachers. If it's not to help children (and by help I don't mean medicating them, I mean sitting down and figuring out how they can learn the things they are teaching), maybe they should consider a new profession.

Well, that's it. If no one reads this, I'm not offended, haha, just had to get it all out there.


lauren said...

This really annoys me. This totally happened to my other nephew. The teacher kind of had pre-conceived notions of him and was unfair in how she treated him. She always saw things from the other person's point of view and never tried to understand him. This is why I don't feel bad all the time when teachers say they aren't getting paid enough because some of them are REALLY crappy!
And of all the kids to be saying it about, Devan has always been the sweetest kid! How can she not adore him!?!
You are so patient, Lana. I admire you. I would've found her house and torched it. hahahaha...ok, maybe not that extreme...but seriously, that's so personal to "attack" your child like that.
Give him a squeeze from us.
Love you all!!

Ashley said...

Lana that is so frustrating. I know a lot of teachers are overwhelmed because of the student /teacher ratio, but criticizing him in front of his class is just inappropriate. I'm sure as the school year goes on and he gets more adjusted and more mature :) it will be easier for him to sit and pay attention. I'm just curious, is Devan one of the older or younger kids in the class? Boys I think take a little longer to mature. I certainly don't think anything is "wrong" with him.

Bree said...

I can't imagine how frustrating this must be but I think you are handling it SO well!! Like Lauren said--I'm so impressed by your patience with this teacher. You do wonder why some people pick the profession they do when they are obviously not cut out for it. Sounds like you have a great pediatrician though and you are being a wonderful advocate for Devan. What a sweet boy--hope things get better and he can be more excited about learning and going to school. Keep us posted!! Love to you all! :)

Shannon Dooley said...

I don't have any advice since my kids are younger than yours and I haven't had the displeasure of dealing with ignorant teachers like this yet but you have every right to be upset! What a bimbo! I want to throw eggs at her face. Every bit of what she has done or said is inappropriate and at poor little Devan's expense. Ugh. This irritates me to no end. You are an amazing Mama though. Devan is very lucky to have you as an advocate in his corner. Someday Mrs. Montrosity will be ashamed of herself I hope.

Ryan and Jessica said...

Lana, I'm sorry you have had to deal with this teacher. Is she the only kindergarten teacher? If she is not I would move him to the other teacher today. Last year while I was helping at school their was a lady there that her kid and teacher didn't get along. She ended up switching her 1/2 way through the year. I thought I don't think I could do that. But then she reminded me why not? You are the parent and you ultimatly decide whats best for your kid and what your kid needs. Then I rethought that and definatly agree. I would rather disrupt my kid just for a few days then keep them somewhere that will hurt them long term. Talk to the principle and make it happen because from the sound of it its not Devan its the teacher. Good luck with everything. Your doing amazing.

Seth and Natalie said...

That just burns me up. How dare that teacher complain to you about how awful your child is. I would (in my head) complain to her about how awful a teacher she is. You are really bending over backwards to do the things this lady thinks are important, and if it's still not good enough, I agree that he should get a different teacher. Kindergarten is definitely not the time to sour him on school. Jeesh.

Amber said...

That's a load! Completely unprofessional and down right RIDICULOUS! She is probably overloaded (like most teachers are) but it doesn't sound like she even gave Devan a chance.

If I were Devan's teacher, I'd want you to be upfront & honest with me about how I come off (in a polite way). If that leads to a falling out, then switch him to a different class.

Sorry y'all have to go through this. Let me know if you need to vent more :)