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TALK ME DOWN, O wise Flist

I don't know if y'all are aware of this, but I have a medical condition known as "flying into a Royal Snit when provoked." I usually medicate myself with copious amounts of minty-rum beverages, per doctor's orders. (Dr. Spaceman.) Current provocation: my son's history teacher who so visibly hates my child, it's a wonder she hasn't woken up tasting my arm pit, due to me jamming my fist down her throat.

Here's the current sitch: she emails me her agenda every week. Twice. Which, that's fine. I guess. Once is sufficient, but hey, I'm just a stay at home mom, right? Anyhoodle, Buttface Giant (as I call her) makes my son call me every time he a) fails to complete an assignment, b) fails to bring in the red folder that assignments are to be carried in, c) bothers her in some fashion. And he's called me twice in a row before because she didn't believe he was speaking to me on the phone. (She is not an old biddy, either, but in her early 30s.)

Friday they were assigned to memorize a "history rap" that she concocted. Every day they are to write down from memory a few stanzas. My son doesn't learn from rote, at all. "Why, just sing it, Stoney!" you might be saying. And then I would counter with, "I've told him to, because the child is FOURTEEN YEARS OLD, AND I'VE ALREADY GONE TO SCHOOL.'" There's only so much behind-powdering a parent can (and should) do.

Today I get an email wanting to know if I even got her email about the project (and my husband REPLIED TO HER from said email, so....) and to inform me that my son is failing at yet another aspect of her class. Here's my email, saved in draft, and this is where you come in. To be noted: he is not failing, he has a high C. The child has never missed a question on his standardized tests. Ever. The boy is not stupid, in other words. He just has learning differences (OH. AND GUESS WHO HAS NEVER COME TO AN ARD MEETING?)

[ETA] The full email is under the cut (I added to it) and I hit send. And CC'd the Principal and my son's special ed Team Leader.

[weirdname] = hiding the real names used.

[Harpy Monster Poo Poo Breath]:

Seeing as [Mr. Stoney]replied to the weekly email you sent informing you of [My Son's] inability to find the homework information on your web portal, you'll note that we did receive your update. I usually get two copies of your agenda every week.

[The Boy] spent a good portion of his time after school yesterday attempting to learn by rote, which simply isn't a way that he's ever been able to learn things - his brain just doesn't process data that way. There's a disconnect between his normal strengths in learning and the processes employed in your classroom that is causing this failure to produce high grades in History. I can only do so much as far as insuring that he's working on the class materials - I cannot climb inside his brain and rewire it, as much as I'd like. It certainly would make life better for all concerned.

I know that he's been an incredibly frustrating student for you, but all I can do is to continue to show him the emails that I get every week and to make sure that he is spending time on all of his classes. Believe me, it's frustrating for me to be constantly reminded of his failures in your classroom. The boy is also 14, and has to learn consequences for his performance, be it good or bad.

Not all children learn in one way. Every adult doesn't excel at every task put before them, ergo every child won't, either. He will continue to do the best he can in your classroom, I can't offer you anything other than that and to point you to his ARD files, detailing strategies that help in the classroom. I do know that [The Boy] is incredibly intimidated by you, and feels intrinsically that he will not be successful in your classroom. Children with autism succeed when they are shown what they've done well, however; they tend to be told more often than not all of the things they've done wrong. That creates an atmosphere of defeatism. Why try when it doesn't matter, in other words.

I know that you have your methods that you stick with in your class, as is your right. But it seems that [The Boy] is just not thriving in that curriculum. It should also be noted that - while he is not receiving the best of grades, which I would prefer - he also isn't bringing in a D. Obviously I want my child to succeed, but the constant barrage of negative commentary on his performance might need to be changed on the dial.

Signed, [My actual name]


( 84 comments — Leave a comment )
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Apr. 21st, 2010 05:38 pm (UTC)
first off:
"it's a wonder she hasn't woken up tasting my arm pit, due to me jamming my fist down her throat."



I'm the wrong chick to be asking because frankly, I would have hit send as I was callng the principal/superintendent/school board/God.

What a douche nozzle she is.
Apr. 21st, 2010 05:41 pm (UTC)
The principal is such a great lady, and I just have this worry about being That Mom that's always got a problem (even though I don't think I am. But I have guilt issues. Because I'm broken.)

I'm leaning towards hitting send. Imma go outside and sniff a flower for a second and see if that helps.
... - aimeelicious - Apr. 21st, 2010 05:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
... - oatmellow - Apr. 22nd, 2010 01:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
... - megarandom - Apr. 21st, 2010 08:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 21st, 2010 05:40 pm (UTC)
Actually, if I were you, I'd hit send. And I'd make sure that it was CCed to the principal. Does the principal know what an asshat he has for a teacher? Because if he/she doesn't, he/she should know. This is NOT appropriate behavior for a teacher. NOT AT ALL.
Apr. 21st, 2010 05:42 pm (UTC)
This teacher is so fucking aggravating. I don't expect every person to love my children. Hell, they don't have to like them. But she OPENLY dislikes him, and he's not an asshole. GAH.
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Apr. 21st, 2010 05:41 pm (UTC)
I would have hit send already. It's a perfectly POLITE way to point out that Buttface Giant does in fact have her own skull inside her own sphincter.

Send. Send. Send.
Apr. 21st, 2010 05:43 pm (UTC)
That's three for send. I'm stepping outside to breathe deep, pet the cat, and come back in.

...and probably hit send. After CC'ing the Principal, his team leader, my husband...
... - inkandchocolate - Apr. 21st, 2010 06:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 21st, 2010 05:42 pm (UTC)
I actually think this is a pretty solid email. I assume this teacher is well aware of your son's differences, and her responsibility to make the class environment as compatible as possible for all her students. If not maybe explain, clearly, and possibly in duplicate just how your son's brain works, and then suggest an alternative for him- like something that isn't super hard for him (or any kid. Remembering by rote is so 19th century grammar school!) to do. My point is you have a right to be crabby, this woman sounds like an uncooperative teacher who inflexible when it comes to MODERN teaching methods.
Apr. 21st, 2010 05:44 pm (UTC)
She's aware that he has a file that says he has Aspergers and learns in a certain way, but I don't know that she ACCEPTS it as fact. (Another reason to not like her.)

And seriously, what you said! Rote is OLD SCHOOL and doesn't work for everyone, good lord!
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Apr. 21st, 2010 05:46 pm (UTC)
Mari, she called FOUR TIMES last week, making my son tell me what he did wrong. HE IS FOURTEEN WITH CHIN HAIRS, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. He's not a 5 year old that ate paste in the classroom!
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... - harmonyfb - Apr. 21st, 2010 07:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 21st, 2010 05:45 pm (UTC)
Speaking as someone who was an education major (even if I decided teaching wasn't right for me), hit send. The woman has her head up her ass and needs help removing it!
Apr. 21st, 2010 05:47 pm (UTC)
Apr. 21st, 2010 05:49 pm (UTC)

You're so polite and measured, there.

That's me when I've edited out all the offensive stuff.

Julia, possibly having zero social skills, ever.
Apr. 21st, 2010 06:15 pm (UTC)
What I wanted to say was "FuuuuUUuuuuUuuuuuCK YOOOOOOOOUUUUU." But I couldn't remember how many O's and U's were in it...
... - justhuman - Apr. 22nd, 2010 02:22 am (UTC) - Expand
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Apr. 21st, 2010 06:00 pm (UTC)
It's no Schoolhouse Rock, let me tell you.
Apr. 21st, 2010 05:57 pm (UTC)
If it were me, I would have already sent that email. Plus, I'd have added something about the ARD meetings.
Apr. 21st, 2010 06:14 pm (UTC)
Just did. ANd added the ARD meetings/info, to boot.
... - menomegirl - Apr. 21st, 2010 06:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 21st, 2010 06:02 pm (UTC)
Oh, man. I feel for you.

Every kid has one teacher who hates him for no good reason, Aaron's was HS bio. The guy used to constantly send home nasty e-mails. The guy told Aaron that he was fail him if he missed 2 homework assignments (Aaron was pulling a high B I believe).

Time passed, he sent home an insanely gleeful note saying how Aaron was going to fail because he missed 2 HW assignments. We made sure that Aaron had kept every assignment and he walked in the next day, demonstrating the two graded assignments. The creep did not apologize.

We went to school and told them that under no circumstances were they to put Zachary in this teacher's class, when it was time for him to take bio.

Make sure your son knows that this has nothing to do with him, how smart his is or anything else. Some teachers feel the need to single out a student every year as the scapegoat de jour. It gives them a sense of power.

Apr. 21st, 2010 06:05 pm (UTC)
And yeah, hit send.

The teacher is an ass and the administration needs to know this.
... - stoney321 - Apr. 21st, 2010 06:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
... - a2zmom - Apr. 21st, 2010 07:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 21st, 2010 06:06 pm (UTC)
Other than the signature, that looks reasonable to me!

I assume you've already listed for her ALTERNATE ways for Boy to learn; either way, it might be good to relist there, just to say, "Yeah, here's the way it works for him." Though I guess if she's already being such a butt about it, she'll just be like, "OH LOOK MOM EXPECTS ME TO SPOIL THE BOY WHEN WHAT HE REALLY NEEDS IS BOOTSTRAPS" and then keep on bein' a butt. :///
Apr. 21st, 2010 06:17 pm (UTC)
If she ever would have come to the many, many meetings we've had this year detailing ways to make the classroom successful, SHE WOULD KNOW. bah.

I added to the original, I thought everyone's suggestions had merit. BAH.
... - furikku - Apr. 21st, 2010 06:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 21st, 2010 06:07 pm (UTC)
Add ways that The Boy CAN learn and that have been proven to work with him to the e-mail--that way she can't tell the principal that you're not being cooperative or that you're not interested in The Boy learning anything**--and then hit send.

**I am unnaturally cautious about this, as my mother got hit with it a few times by bitchy teachers who claimed she had no interest in the fact that I was lousy at math. She poured thousands into special tutoring and special books. We both sweated blood over math...and I continued to be lousy at it.

Teachers don't like to admit that a person can expend enormous effort trying to accomplish something and yet get very little return.
Apr. 21st, 2010 06:18 pm (UTC)
I added a point to the original about how all adults don't excel at everything, and we shouldn't expect children to, either. BAH.
Apr. 21st, 2010 06:13 pm (UTC)
Hit send. It's a perfectly polite email, and given what the teacher is putting you and your son through, I think it's time she has her ass kicked, if only verbally.

My only suggestions would be to CC the principal, and to suggest an alternate project your son could do in place of learning the history rap. Maybe he could do an extra report, or a book report, or something else that works with his learning differences.

(I still remember the name of the bitchy teacher who hated me and called me up in front of the class to dress me down for the heinous sin of reading a book after I'd finished my homework.)
Apr. 21st, 2010 06:19 pm (UTC)
I just did (after adding some more, CCing certain people, and making sure every I was dotted and T was crossed.)

WHEN TEACHERS GET MAD AT YOU FOR LEARNING ON YOUR OWN, THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG THERE. (Unless it was a Playgirl magazine you were reading, lol.) Gah. Bad teachers are BAD.
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Apr. 21st, 2010 06:31 pm (UTC)
I applaud you for such an even, calm, and polite missive to this asshat. I see from other comments that you've cc'd all the appropriate people. Good for you.

WTF is up with making your kid call you from school? Since when did classrooms have phones?
Apr. 21st, 2010 07:04 pm (UTC)
yeah, the calling me constantly thing is SO WTF I don't even know where to begin. I think this is her Passive Aggressive way of saying that's she's trying to keep me involved, or some shit.
Apr. 21st, 2010 06:36 pm (UTC)
HA. Sending it was the right decision. And even though i know this doesn't help *right now*.....

There is only, what....five weeks of school left? Something like that...he won't have to put up with this asshat next year, and he's *almost done*. If he can hold onto his high C grade then he can forget about her.

And yes - constant negatives are *not* the way to go. Grrrrrrrrr. I loathe teachers like that.
Apr. 21st, 2010 07:04 pm (UTC)
Oh, dude. We have a countdown on his school calendar showing how few weeks we have left with her, so believe me: it DOES help. (And great minds think alike. *g*)
Apr. 21st, 2010 06:36 pm (UTC)

No seriously, this is a good letter. And tooootally cc the principal.

I'm sorry this is happening, sweet pea.
Apr. 21st, 2010 07:04 pm (UTC)
And per your other comment: yeah. MASSIVE control issues, right?
Apr. 21st, 2010 06:40 pm (UTC)
I just skimmed through the comments. I'm really hoping you hit send.
As you know I have dealt with at least three teachers of Holden's whom were also fuck-wads.

You were much more eloquent then I ever was. Too much hillbilly redneck in my DNA. :-)
Apr. 21st, 2010 07:06 pm (UTC)
I did, and I'm just done with this harpy. I'm lol'ing at everyone saying how even tempered it sounds, when I just think it's all head rolly. (But then, I'm such a wimp in real life, come on.)

I can take off my rangs and put some Vaseline up on my grill after some whiskey sours, if she wants to do this... :D
Apr. 21st, 2010 07:24 pm (UTC)
I'd make it a bit more formal and a bit more detached, as to remove any signs of conflict... but I'm still in college, so I don't know if you grown-ups do it some other way.

Plus, I think you should try consulting the special ed team leader. I'm sure they are trained to handle situations like this.


"I'd make it a bit more formal and a bit more detached, as to remove any signs of conflict... but I'm just a German microbe, so I don't know if you humans do it some other way."
Apr. 21st, 2010 07:32 pm (UTC)
It's always nice to see rectal craniotomies performed well. I hope this one takes and the teacher doesn't have a relapse.
Apr. 21st, 2010 07:33 pm (UTC)
Not only do I think you need to send it, I'd make it even nastier. And once you've hit 'send', then I'd call to demand a meeting between the three people the email went to, because that bitch needs an attitude adjustment post-haste.
Apr. 21st, 2010 07:59 pm (UTC)
Bah, sucks that A. has to deal with a teacher who seems inclined to spend her energy finding ways to defeat him. Seems you already got good advice from everyone else, so I'll just add *pours you and me both a stiff drink*
Apr. 21st, 2010 08:32 pm (UTC)
*tentatively pokes nose in*

I um...well...can I give you a teacher's perspective? Just real quick?

She may not hate Austin. In fact, the sheer amount of contact that she IS giving you demonstrates her concern. Teaching is exhausting stuff and the only reason we ever contact parents about every little thing is for 2 reasons: 1 = we care and 2 = we are playing CYA.

I'm going to venture out on a limb here and say that it may be a case of actually caring (but not knowing how to best approach The Boy's learning style/understanding his disability) combined with a case of CYA. Since The Boy does have a disability, odds are you have an IEP (yes?). When a teacher has a student with an IEP in class, it's like everything in you goes on high-alert. While you may not be one of those parents, IEP's can be a warning signal of watchdog parents. Sometimes this is good, sometimes this is bad. I'm guessing that the teacher here has been burned at somepoint (or is attempting to prevent being burned) by a parent who accused her of not keeping them apprised of their student's situation at every opportunity.

While I am sure it seems like overkill and nagging, it's entirely possible that she's just trying to make sure that if something were to go down (like you were the kind of parent to question a grade, or go to the principal about her not meeting her child's needs) she would have a paper trail that could prove her side of the story. You'd be shocked at how many parents once they have an IEP then figure they have to do nothing and it is now all up to the school to handle absolutely EVERYTHING.

Just a thought.

At the same time...being that she's a youngish person, she may not have been in teaching long enough to figure out the balance between keeping you apprised of the situation and being negative about The boy's progress. I always used to tell anyone I was training to deal with parents that you always had to use "the sandwich" when telling parents something negative. You put the negative in-between two positives--i.e., "CJ did great on their quiz today, but I'm concerned about X. But we've talked about it he and I, and now that I've talked to you I know that things are going to improve in that arena because we're all in this together."

You're a great mom, and I wish that I could have had more parents like you: concerned and involved, but not overbearing, and willing to take responsibility for the actions of their child and accepting of shortcomings, but willing to partner in finding the best avenue to success. HOWEVER, 80% of parents are NOT--and for the remainder? It's not the child or the system or the curriculum or anything else to blame it's the teacher. Sometimes you've got to develop defense mechanisms to cope with the constant barrage of "it's all YOUR fault."

Then again, she could just be a bitch.

Have you ever met with her in-person just one-on-one? That might help.
Apr. 21st, 2010 09:02 pm (UTC)
First off, I love you.

Second, our school has this policy of communicating with the parents When Things Go Wrong. Example: my son's Spanish teacher sends me an email if my son misses, say, three homework assignments or his grade is in danger of slipping into failure. While I, as a parent, think that's a great way to keep informed, I also feel for the teachers because that's a lot of extra work that falls into the nanny category.

Having said that... She sends me emails (or makes my son call me - the phone is in the classroom) for anything and everything. I wasn't exaggerating when I said I got notified that he wasn't bringing his RED FOLDER to class. (The papers he had. Not the flippin' folder.)

I'm also the parent that the other teachers I've had over the years have enjoyed. They hug me when we bump into each other at the store, that kind of thing. Why? Because I believe the teacher rules that classroom, and when they say something I pinch my child's arm and say, "HOW HIGH, tell them." I am always willing to help, to offer any info, to stand in the classroom, you name it.

Now, she's in her mid-30s. (Ish. Maybe older.) The just out of school teachers? They rock. They're all about new ideas in the classroom. This one? Her way, period. Here's your time line, memorize it, regurgitate it on paper. She also HAS NOT ATTENDED THE ARD MEETINGS. She's not there. You know what I mean? The woman can't be bothered, is what I hear from that action.

Not to mention the singling out of my child in the classroom for all the things wrong. I'm the FIRST ONE to say my child did something wrong. I really am. I do not believe my children are perfect, behave like model citizens 100% of the time, that kind of thing. But this woman... Boy, she's just pugilistic and the way she words things just feels like an attack. It's no wonder my kid feels intimidated by her.

If she would just come to the damn meetings, she'd see that I'm not the parent that she's worried I'll be (going with your scenario, which I think has merit, big time.)

...and I just got a reply from her, and I'm not ready to read it yet, because it's already starting off with, "Mrs. Stoney, I am fully aware of Austin's ARD folder...." *head desk*
... - 39th_year - Apr. 22nd, 2010 12:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 21st, 2010 09:18 pm (UTC)
I add to the chorus of SEND! What a very well reasoned thought out letter. Here's hoping things turn out well... or at the very least they get super better next year. :)
Apr. 21st, 2010 09:53 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you sent the email. It's not inflammatory and if the teacher can't take a bit of criticism, she shouldn't be doling it out to your son.

What a frustrating situation.
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Are You Actually

Reading this? I'm just curious. Because that's really detail-oriented of you. Feel free to stop reading. But you can see that there's more here, so are you going to keep reading? Really? That's pretty dedicated. I'm impressed. No, really. I'm not being sarcastic, why do you get like that? See, this is the problem I have with your mother - yes. YES. I'm going there. It's time we put all of our cards on the table.

I love you, why are you doing this? After all we've been through? You don't have to be like this. You know, still reading. You could be baking a pie. And then sharing it with me.

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