Monday, December 6, 2010

A Parent Conference Beat Down

I had a parent conference with all my 6th grader's teachers and the guidance counselor and it has left me feeling discouraged and angry.

Back ground info:  I teach 8th grade at the same middle school my 6th and 7th grade children attend.  My son is extremely bright, but his grades suffer because of his weak organizational skills and extreme ADHD.  He is generally very well-behaved.  He has had no behavior issues at school.

At the meeting, I wanted to make it clear that my child has come a long, long way, but is still dealing with some very basic skills and behaviors at home at times.  In this context, the expectations of 8 classes and 6th grade are challenging.  I am not expecting them to lower their expectations, but I want them to understand.

Here's what I got from one of the teachers:

  • If I cannot handle my child at home, how are they supposed to handle him?
  • My child would not do the things he does at home if he was HIS son.
  • Why don't I set any expectations or consequences at home?
  • Since he doesn't respect me, soon he will start disrespecting his teachers.

It was pretty devastating to me.  This is a colleague of mine.  I'm not sure what his motivation is.  Nothing I said was meant to give anyone any of the above impressions.

I feel compelled to stop sharing any background information at all with teachers.  Usually, I think it's helpful, but today it backfired.  Sure, teachers will still think I'm incompetent because my kid is often a mess and rarely has his homework, but I doubt if I will get the harsh statements I got today . 

Part of the problem is that I am insecure about my parenting, so this hit home.  But this person has no idea what it's like to parent traumatized children.  His judgments are harsh.



Psycho Mom said...

Oh, ouch! That has got to hurt. I am so sorry. Teachers often have a hard time understanding our kids and their issues. But how awkward to have it be people you work with. I am soooo sorry. That sucks. I would give him a book that deals with trauma/attachment (I don't know any of those books), or Damaged Angels by Bonnie Buxton, and tell him to judge you after he reads it completely. Jerk. Give me his number. ;)

mindfulness said...

What makes it worse is that I'm a special educator!

Mike and Katie said...

Harsh and ignorant. I think it's extremely important for teachers to understand parenting and teaching traumatized kids. You need all the suport you can get and teachers need be prepared especially for the potential for manipulation.

You are doing the best you can for them. It's definitely a learning process. ((Hugs)) to you!

Mama Drama Times Two said...

It is so hard sometimes to have school deal with school and home deal with home without some boundaries being breached. I left working the behavioral program at the high school and switched to elementary because I had 2 foster daughters at the High School and there was NO personal or professional space for any of us. Not knowing background you could try a phrase like "We appreciate your concern and share your worries, but the future is too unknown and too big right now - we'd like to focus and talk about some ways we can make ____ successful here and now at school". Good luck!

PM said...

Wow, that is harsh to deal with. I would assume they should be more understanding knowing the background. I guess not everyone "gets" it.

sadiesmom said...

He showed his ignorance. Some people will never get it! They will never get that some children are not able to learn the same lessons that typical kids learn quickly. That setting boundries and being consistent are great and important but often make little difference in kids who have know neither most of their life. That children with ADHD are not just misbehaving children who need rules, they have brains that function differently. It is hard to explain to these people our struggle as parents to provide rules, boundries, and consistency, to not make excuses for our children while still having an understanding of their limitations and how fine that balance is!
I would give this teacher some good reading information on teaching children with ADHD, and children who have been traumatized. I that in a professsional manner you could tell him that it was clear that he did not fully understand the situation and how he can best teach your child. Maybe he will approach you and your son in a more professional and helpful manner in the future! On a side note: Have you considered other schools for him? I know that the middle school, junior high thing is specific to where you live but are there schools in your area that offer more of a elementary setting for 6 graders? It seems it would be helpful for him to not have so many teachers. I am a big public school advocate but if a private school is the only option I might consider it, if it offered fewer teachers and the ability to have adults who could help him with organization and accountability.