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Authority figure fear, any suggestions, please?
February 22, 2004
8:46 am
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Wanttobewell
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Hi all,

I get to go to my daughter's high school in the morning. That means my heart will pound, and I will turn into a fumbling, bumbling, flustered idiot. She is in honor's English and is having a really bad time of it now. She's avoiding the class and talking about going to get a GED instead of staying in school, and I can't let that happen. She has a very sore shoulder. I kept her out of school for a few days and when we went to the doctor, she had rotator cuff tendonitis. She went back to school Friday but didn't go to English. Some of her classmates told her the teacher "thought" she quit school and talked to the class about it. I don't want to jump to any conclusions, but that doesn't seem appropriate to me. She's a junior and only has 3 more months in this class. Her last project was on the Aztec Indians, and we helped her quite a bit. I was really positive about it and was sure she would make an A. She got a 77. She told me she just couldn't cut it anymore in the class.

Okay, Now,,,how do I go in and talk to the principal without being so nervous and fearful. I know where the fear comes from. From day one in school, I was told by my parents that teachers were practically gods, and I MUST do everything correctly. If I had any problems in school, it was always my fault, and let me tell you, I had some pretty sick teachers. Even last night when I was talking to mom about it on the phone, she used that voice I hate and went on and on about what to tell my daughter that she "must" do what is expected of her and on and on and for me not to criticize the teacher. I had to interrupt her tirade to tell her that indeed there were bad teachers in the world.

Okay,,,so I know where the fear comes from. I know I have to go and deal with this situation. I am an adult. I should be able to carry on a reasonably intelligent conversation with the principal, teacher, etc. But I am so fearful, I can't even get a lucid thought from my brain to my tongue. I've tried being logical in that they aren't going to kill me. Thing is,,,this is not a logical fear, and I am literally trembling with nervousness on this one.

I suppose I could pretend to be mute and write everything but, other than that, does anyone have any suggestions?? W.

February 22, 2004
9:04 am
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Zinnie
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HI Want,

I think by logically thinking about what you want to think and talk about before you get there. Just like you laid out above, you make some excellent points.

The teacher should not have made any such announcement to the class - regarding your daughter possibly leaving school - based on rumor. That is just wrong, and as a professional she/he should have known that.

Also, remember you are not only an adult now - but a taxpayer as well. So, essentially YOU are their boss! There ya go! How is that for turning it around? YOU are the authority figure now. Does that help?

Love,

Zinnie

February 22, 2004
9:08 am
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Wanttobewell
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Hmmm,,,thanks Zinnie. I never thought about it like that. I'll try to keep my thoughts along those lines instead of being a scared little girl!!! I'll try. Thanks, W.

February 22, 2004
9:50 am
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Once again Zinnie, you amaze me with your insight and wisdom. I should live so long!!! W.

February 22, 2004
12:16 pm
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Zinnie
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HEY! I'm a youngster!

Seriously, just take a deep breath, and really think about it - you ARE the boss in this situation, and you really do sign this person's paycheck.

Do you think your daughter would do better if she went to a regular English class? Anything to keep her from dropping out of school. I know so many think that having that GED is just as good, and not putting anyone down who does have it - they had the gumption to go back and get that which is great. But... if she if wanting to go to college, they really look at that - a GED vs. a Diploma.

Z.

February 22, 2004
7:25 pm
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Ladeska
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Ask questions.......and let them answer. Try and take the reins so that you're in the driver's seat and not them. YOU are the one who's the interviewer - NOT THEM.

I had the same problem with my daughter and ended up pulling her out of school actually for most of her junior year and senior year. My daughter is extremely bright and made one of the highest scores ever made on the GED. But I had HAD it with the school system. Our superintendent here...."knew" me well. I'm sure it wasn't a pleasant experience for him but hey - I am a parent who stays on top of things, so like - sue me.

She got sick with tonsilitis and strep throat until it was just ridiculous the amount of school she was missing. So we finally decided to take her tonsils out after trying to just wait and hope she'd grow out of it. Wasn't happening. She ended up being home schooled. Well THAT was a freaking joke!! The woman they sent was supposedly the cream of the crop and that's pretty sad. The woman knew nothing about any of the subjects she was taking. My daughter taught herself second year spanish and second year algebra and did it with a fever and being really sick through most of it.

SHE was the one that had to get her assignments and stay in contact with her teachers. This so-called home school teacher did nothing but shoot the breeze with her when she came over. OH and she wanted to heal her by aligning her shockras or some shit. My daughter told her - you're not aligning my ANYTHING lady!! I'm sorry but this woman was an idiot. Oh yeah, I told them that, too.

I was LIVID after a few weeks of this crap and called the school district. They said - well she's the best we've got. I said - as compared to WHAT? They said - well she always shows up. ohhhhhhh, I see........

So we moved back east right after that and she goes into high school there as a senior and they tell her she doesn't cut it because California is behind the east coast, so she has to go in as a junior....

She said - screw that, getting my GED and she nailed it. Got a job and ended up breaking the record for collections for the nation in this company and she was only 18. No one broke her record for three years and they are the top hospital collections company for the nation. She knew the laws inside and out and coached everyone in the office on what was what.

Now she's just got hired on with a company that will be making her a partner to the tune of 6 figures in a couple of years. One smart cookie. She has got nothing but glowing praise everywhere she's been for how smart she is and what a good job she does. But OH how they tried to tell me she was lazy or she was this or she was that. Cracked me up. When all along what they were REALLY doing was trying to cover their own asses for how incompetent THEY were at teaching kids much of anything except how to NOT use their minds. We just bypassed them and it was a GOOD thing.

Sometimes - the system does not work and when it doesn't - you have to be creative and cut your own trail. So hold your head up high girlfriend and you go in there with your shoulders back and put THEM on the defensive. It's YOUR daughter's wellbeing here and they ARE NOT God contrary to their own delusions.

February 22, 2004
9:29 pm
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Hey W

God, I hope parents don't feel this way when they call or come to see me.

Okay- so your daughter is struggling in an honor's class. Well, the next logical step is to move her out of honors. Into a "regular" class.

There is just no point in suffering in a class. It doesn't sound like her and this teacher have "melded." Remember that teachers are people too, and usually the reason we teach is kuz we like kids. The money ain't it, believe me!

Hopefully you won't take this wrong, but here goes. Some honors kids and parents really have a tough time with the regular classrooms. They don't wanna be seen as regular. Truth is, though, we all are. Once your daughter leaves High School, there will be no more honors. It becomes different ages. No more popularity. It's just people of all walks of life. Honors classes were created to challenge those kids who were bored in regular classrooms and were consequently not recieving an education that suited their needs. It is not unusual for a kid to be removed from an honors curriculum due to illness or family emergencies. They just can't keep up. Has nothing to do with their abilities- and everything to do with life. Well, sometimes life throws ya curve balls and ya gotta bail some things and regroup. Happens in College. That's when we take the class over.

The MOST that is gonna happen in the honor's curriculum is that your daughter will be one year ahead of the other kids. Well, when everybody's 25 it ain't gonna matter one i-ota. Know what I mean?

But jimminy, let's don't pull the kid from school kuz she's struggling in an honors class. A 77 isn't a fail, W. I';m not hearing of drugs, pregnancy, violence, and a 1.0 gpa.

I say drop the comment the teacher made. It was a boo-boo. This is non-productive. yes, there are bad teachers, but one can scream all day long about the teacher- but your daughter does not gain anything from that other than how to blame somebody else. This is hurtful because it assumes that somebody else is responsible for our success- this renders us powerless. Even if the teacher is a bad one, she needs to learn how to overcome vs bailing out or casting blame (elsewhere or within). The focus needs to get off the teacher, off her, and ON finding a path to help her be successful once again.

DO ask the teacher for recommendations for options to help your daughter be successful in school. And ask him/her about moving your daughter out of honors so that she can start again on a fresh page.

Teachers want kids to be successful. Not because it reflects on us, but because we want to make a difference in the world. Assume this teacher is of this character, and that she is there to help you. We;re not Gods, w. Just people trying to make a difference in the world with our hands tied behind our backs.

Look at me and all my trials in my own personal life. I've blown it in the classroom, with kids, with parents, with administrators. Hardly perfect. Definitely human. Just like you. Just like your daughter.

free

February 22, 2004
11:05 pm
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Ladeska
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One way I always look at the education thing, especially here in the states these days is....for one, teachers do not always have your child's best interests at heart. Some do and some don't. That's a call you have to make in your own individual situation. You can't paint them all bad and you can't paint them all good. But let's face it - a good education doesn't always come about the usual way.

Each child is different, each school system is different, each teacher is different. And all that has to be taken into consideration here. One thing I do know from talking to kids and finding out what really goes in the classroom and on campus, the things we never see or know about unless we do bend our ears to them is - alot goes down that isn't good at all.

Classrooms are overcrowded, there are gangs in school and pressures put on kids that are really quite nasty. And yes, teachers do take things out on certain kids. These kids that find themselves in a vice grip with no one to really talk to or understand what "their world" is like end up stressed to the max because no one gets it.

So you have to lay everything out on the table and do your own investigative work and take no one's word for anything. Sometimes education is how "you" form it. Sometimes it comes about in a most unconventional way.

But what you don't want to do is go into this assuming anything. You have to have your ear to the wall all the way around. Ask questions, get answers and make your own decisions "with" your daughter.

The pressure and stress our kids go through at school would shock us. We don't see on tenth of what really goes on, especially in public schools.

I have to laugh now about my college days because they really did nothing to teach me to critically think. That was a sham, except for my journalism teacher bless her heart. I remember one english professor that kept giving me failing grades and I couldn't understand why. Finally figured out, with the help of a very enlightened fellow student who told me - just listen to how SHE interprets things and then feed THAT back to her when you write your essays. Son of a gun - it worked!! She was asking for me to interpret it but only if I interpreted it the way SHE did. Oh okay. I did that and passed with flying colors. I just had to get with the program.

There are alot of variables in situations like this and you can't be close-minded when you approach the table. There are worse things in life than her quitting and getting her GED. One of them would be that she become a person who doesn't learn to think for themselves. I know that's politically incorrect these days but uh, I don't apologize for it. Institutions for higher learning? Don't see much of that these days. Most of our kids don't know how to read and write and the rest of them are taught how "not to think".

February 22, 2004
11:50 pm
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I hear what you're saying Ladeska. But we're talking about an honors kid contemplating dropping out of school kuz school got hard. Not because of her capabilities or lack of them, but because she's missed class and hasn't bonded with the teacher. That's what I've heard, correct me if I'm mistaken.

Not a reason to drop out and get a ged. GED's are not as powerful as high school diplomas. Not a whole lot of power in a high school diploma either, but more doors are open with it than without it.

I just think it's a mistake to teach kids this young that the answer when you're not succeeding at your own pre-determined desired level is to quit. Sometimes throwing in the towel is the thing to do, but I don't think it is here.

This is a good opportunity to teach this child about persistence. her education belongs to her, and she has a right to it. People of all professions, all races, all religions, etc., will find a reason or excuse to oppress. Education is the great equalizer. It grants the power to overcome.

Traditional public education is not for everybody. This is an honors kid who is struggling with one honors class.

Public education has it's weaknesses and strengths in comparison to home school and private schools.

This isn't about that. It's about finding out what the best alternative is for this child, and with the information given, it appears to me as though the best alternative is to place her in a regular grade equivalent class where pressure is reduced enough to permit her to discover her own strengths and weaknesses.

In high school, education isn't just about academics. It's about life. Learning to perservere in a situation where one feels down and out is a great lesson. And in high school, it's free.

Many kids suffer academic drawbacks in high school for various reasons. I mean, a gazillion of them.

this discussion can go so many different routes.

I say, meet with the teacher with the realization that he/she is a human being just like you. And find out if transferring her to a non-honors class is an option. It may not be- it may screw up her whole schedule. For example, at my high school, dropping out of freshman honors math means dropping out of freshman honors Biology, that kind of thing. Find out options. Discuss them with the teacher and with her.

As a teacher who loves my "cherubs", and on the outside looking in with the info given, I say lift the pressure of honors and help this child to find success. Right where she's at.

free

February 23, 2004
12:10 am
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Each situation must be looked at individually. My youngest son has the same artistic and musical talents as his older siblings. We had them in a private school which had an accelerated academic program AND also a heavy concentration on the arts. It worked great for three of the first four. Kiddo number five was a whole different story.

He suffered from ADD, and needed a structured environment. A very structured one at that. So, we had to put him in a different school - one that dealt in nothing but the basics with a low student to teacher ratio - and his creative endeavors in his case, we made them secondary.

But, we had to look at what worked for each one, he was a little different from the other's in the family. He still is. He has a whole different outlook on life than they do, and that's O.K. But, ultimately we did listen to what his teachers were telling us, we then took the information and discussed it at home and decided what was best for our kid.

I say listen to what the teacher has to say, but again don't freeze up and get nervous - have your questions planned, and listen... then take it from there.

Good luck!

Zinnie

February 23, 2004
1:05 am
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Well what the teacher has to say will be along the lines of this: her homework has not been quite up to par, there may be some basic fundamentals lacking, poor attendance may be influencing her grade, she is obviously bright and capable, but not achieving at a level typical of students in this class, she appears to be having some difficulty establishing bonds with her peers in this class (honors kids are placed into honors not based solely on academic ability but social similarities as well, she has not been coming in at lunch for help or asking for help in class,- these kinds of things.

I've taught honors and been through many a parent meeting and these have been the things I've seen and said. Some parents go bonkers by taking things personally and blame the system or me (I equate this with shooting the messenger), some get very angry at their child (and I just wanna take him/her home with me), some want a solution from me (and I don't always have it), and some I can really work with in finding out why their child is not enjoying success and together come up with a workable solution.

From what I've read in this case, which isn't a whole lot, this child appears to dread the class. the dread factor is tough to overcome as it usually encompasses teacher-classmates-subject matter- everything about the class. It's hard to be expressive and creative when ya hate what you're doing.

The topic of your discussion seems to be that of fearing the teacher as well. Maybe I can quell that. This teacher is not going to view you as a bad parent. You're the mother of an honor's kid and you're coming to meet with the teacher to discuss reasons as to why your daughter is not succeeding. Believe me when I tell you that this teacher is on the defense big time. if there is any parent-teacher conference I dread as a teacher, it's the ones with the honors kids. As a matter of fact, I won't even engage them at this point without the counselor present.

there aren't very many parents of honors kids kuz there aren't many honors kids. There aren't many parents who have or will take the time to meet with a teacher, especially one on one. the parents who do are very involved, care very much, and have a tendency to crucify teachers and the educational system when their kids aren't doing well. Doing well with honors parents generally means an A.

I hope I'm not offending you- just trying to give you an inside perspective. From a teacher's viewpoint. This teacher will most likely be a little nervous. The teacher is the one who has been called to the carpet by your request for a meeting.

Not you. Not your daughter. You have the upper edge. I can guarantee you that at minimum the teacher has notified the department head of this meeting and if not yet the counselor and an administrator, will do so depending upon the outcome. (I would anyhow).

There is SO MUCH pressure on teachers right now for kids to succeed. Know that this teacher has been reflecting on this situation since this meeting has been called. The pressure is on the teacher. Not you. Not your daughter.

you are obviously a very caring and involved parent. I can tell you with certainty that you are in a class by yourself, a member of about 10% at most of the entire parent population at your daughers high school. And I say this as a teacher of a high school with a ranking of 8 out of ten in my state. You're up there.

This teacher is far more intimidated by YOU than you can be of him/her. Just keep that one in mind. Easy pony as ya go.

good luck

free

February 23, 2004
10:39 am
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Hope your meeting with the principal went well....let us know.
Hugs WW

February 23, 2004
11:36 pm
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Was just checking in to see how things went. Thought about ya today and just hopin it went okay.

free

February 23, 2004
11:51 pm
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Hey W.,

Same thing - just wondering how it went for you?

Free - you will enjoy this... years ago one of my younger brothers got into some trouble at school. The school called my Dad. Dad before going up there talks to my brother to find out HIS side of the story. He hears with Nick has to say, and says he will talk to the teacher about the situation.

He gets to the school - talks to the teacher and the principal. He say's call my son down here. They pull my brother from class. My Dad says "this is what they told me what happened, this is what you told me. Now, I want the truth right now. If what you (brother) told me is correct - I'll handle it legally. If what they are telling me is correct - you had better tell me now!" So, now brother tells a variation of the story. My Dad sits and thinks about it. He tells my brother - whatever punishment they give you is just, and you will be punished accordingly at home - but for right now, YOU owe your teacher an apology, you were wrong, and you lied to me."

The sad part - the teacher told my Dad that in 20 years of teaching, she had never had a paretn make a child apologize to her.

Not saying that Dad always took the side of the Teacher; there was another instance with another brother where he went and talked to the teacher. He then went to the principle and told him "this teacher is a blithering idiot, why is he teaching?" But, then again like you said - he was probably the rarity in that he was involved with what was going on, for the most part.

As I said, each child is different. I know with our youngest, we had to put him in a different school. This was through no fault of the teachers and really through no fault of my son. It was just that the methodology of teaching and the freedoms givin to the students were not what he needed.

But Want - in any case, I hope your meeting went well, and you were able to handle the situation calmly. As I said before, you are the one who had the "upper hand" so to speak, and hopefully it was with one common goal in speaking to the teacher - you both want the best for your child.

Z.

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