Thursday, 15 January 2009

Just One of Those People

First of all, thank you all for your support and helpful comments about Jake. We see the animal behaviourist today and I'll let you know how we got on.

But onto other matters on my mind. Last night was parents night at my son's school. It's a wonderful night when I go to my daughter's school, less so at my son's. He is not an academic high achiever or even middle achiever in some subjects. But most of his teachers seem to think he's capable of far more if he just puts in the work. I don't disagree with this.

Most of his teachers offered helpful comments on how he can improve his performance. Not so his physics teacher. Perhaps in her mind, she did. But she didn't. What she did first of all was chastise him for not turning in overdue homework. Fair enough. Then she accused him of not studying for his tests at home. When we backed him up and said he did indeed study at home, she asked how he prepared. He said he read the information, then had us quiz him on it. She said that method was useless. Then he said he copied out diagrams. She said that was worse than useless. I was beginning to think she was a bit useless so I asked her what study methods she recommended. She spouted a bunch of things, mind mapping and cartooning being the only two I remember and even recognised. I turned to my son and asked if he knew what they were. He said he did, but I don't think he does.

She said they were in the study guide book he got last year, and she should know because she wrote it. She then said a method that works for kinesthetic, auditory, and visual learners was to try to teach the information themselves. My son is 12. He doesn't know if he's a kinesthetic, auditory, or visual learner. I then said, "So if my son came to you before a test and asked which would be the best method for revising, you would be able to tell him?"

She didn't like that, and ended the appointment immediately. I was fuming. I woke up in the night still fuming. But, as we told our son, those people exist, and sometimes they become teachers. The only thing for him to do is to make sure he doesn't give her any ammunition against him, like forgetting to turn in his homework.

When we got home, my husband looked in my son's physics homework book. It was full of smiley faces and "Good work" remarks. So what happened? Son said she told him off one day for sneezing in class. Is this another unfulfilled or ill-suited person for teaching taking it out on the pupils? That's what it's looking like.

And you know what's the worst bit? She's his head of year. We have no one else to go to to complain, should we decide to do so.


J said...

I'm fuming while reading this! I'm so sorry for your son to have to deal with her, and for you to have to deal with the situation, too

Sadly, there are people like this out there. I think my daughter's pre-school teacher is one. They are bullies, plain and simple - insecure, yet in power bullies.

You are doing your son a terrific service by helping him understand that yes, he will encounter people like this and sometimes you have to get through the situation and just try not to make it worse. It's probably going to be a more used lesson than any of those physics equations.

Good luck to all of you!

Kaycie said...

She has a boss, no matter her position. Go talk to whomever that person is. Immediately. She is terrible.

That said, there are tests readily available to help you figure out the type of learner your son is and the best methods for him to use for his study. Our schools here give them to the children regularly in elementary school to help them learn how to best prepare themselves. It might be worth your time to look for one to help him out.

-Ann said...

I find flashcards have always been the most useful study tool for me. First, in making your flashcards, you are forced to boil the information down into the constituent parts. Then using the flashcard trains your brain to file the pertinent information together. So when you see the word, you can come up with its meaning, application, etc.

The other trick with flashcards is that after you've gone through them a few times, you can pull out the ones you've missed and then just study those until you can go through all of them and recall all of them perfectly.

I've used flashcards my whole life and they work for every subject except math. I also used to tutor biology in college and always recommended flashcards, to great success.

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Moron of a teacher - we've all had them. Yup, see the head teacher or the board of governors if she persists. Sounds like she hasn't been challenged and revels in her power - time to take her down a peg or two.

Mindmapping - great tool and there are som terrific video's (probably DVD's these days!) and books on the use of it.

Good luck. He'll be fine once you get that old bully under control.

Fire Byrd said...

Yes you do. You can go to a deputy head or the head and if you don't get satisfaction there you can write a formal complaint to the chair of governors. If you do that then there has to be an investigation where you are present.
To find out the chair of governors the school secretary/bursar will let you know where to send the letter. I would try through the head first though. You do not have to put up with bad teaching nor does your son. and if you don't complain then nothing will be doen to change her behaviour as no-one will know about it.

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

j: Thank you.

Kaycie: I know about the tests, but if she were a truly good teacher, she would have given the tests to her pupils. I know other teachers who do (and don't complain about their workload either).

-ann: I used to use flashcards too. Excellent idea that I'll pass on to the kids. Thank you.

MOB: Yes, mindmapping is great, but if you're going to throw out terms, as this woman did, you should define them as you go along.

Fire byrd: Thank you for that info. I hope I don't have to use it. I hope my son just knuckles down and gets through this year and never has that cow for a teacher again.

Anonymous said...

It really annoys me when teachers think they can treat pupils like they're stupid. And it seems this teacher is treating parents the same way. I'd complain alright. The school will have a governing body who you could perhaps talk to if you feel it necessary.

Hope something positive comes of all this.

CJ xx

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