Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Meeting at School

We met with the Program Development Team at the school today. Basically it was a positive meeting. The primary concerns were Connor's ability to keep himself on task well enough to complete his work in a reasonable amount of time, and the anxiety he experiences when he doesn't get his work done and has to spend recess in the homework room.

Lots of things were said, by the teacher, by the school psychologist, by us. The principal and learning support teacher basically just acted as witnesses. Hopefully progress was made. Primarily, we wanted to impress upon all of them that this has been a huge transition for Connor, and it hasn't even been a month yet. We have gone through 4 1/2 years of school without one negative comment about his behaviour, and less than two weeks after starting at a new school there are complaints from the teacher. How much are we expecting of this little (at least in my mind) boy who has just endured the biggest change of his life? The psychologist was very much the voice of reason, saying that this has only been a very short time and Connor would of course still manifest anxiety over all the new people, expectations, and environments in his life.

Most importantly, we impressed upon the teacher that Connor needs to be well aware of what is expected of him, and what the consequences of his actions will be. If he isn't surprised by a consequence, he will usually take it without too much problem. But if he is suddenly told "Nope, no outdoor play for you today", he will have trouble dealing with that. He is sensitive, and needs to feel safe in his world. He needs to know what is coming. I have to deal with this all the time. Chris is constantly reminding me not to spring a form of discipline on Connor that he wasn't expecting. It isn't fair to do that to him.

So I hope his teacher will take that into consideration. And I hope she will try to integrate some positive reinforcement techniques into her teaching. Chris was very forceful in asking what techniques the teacher uses to keep students on task. Her answer was not particularly satisfying, but at least Chris made the point that keeping a 10-year-old on task in the classroom is not only the responsibility of the 10-year-old. I think this teacher has previously taught middle school grades, and has the same expectations of grades 3 and 4 as she had of those students. I think she needs to add some motivation techniques to her repertoire. Positive motivation is so much more effective with Connor. His NB teacher had a reward system, where the kids earned play money that they could spend at occasional classroom auctions over the course of the year. Worked like a charm for Connor. I wished afterward that I had mentioned it at the meeting, but I don't want to sound like I am trying to tell his teacher how to teach.

I survived the meeting, although there were moments that I was afraid I would dissolve into a puddle. Now I just want to put it behind me and move forward. We need to talk to Connor about what is expected of him. He does need to take responsibility for his own work, and if he doesn't finish on time, he needs to accept the consequences. That's just something that goes along with growing up. But I don't want to spend any more time worrying about it. We have all lost enough sleep over this. Time to move on.


  1. You go girl! If Connor is the most they worry about they need to move to our school system! Man, I could handle Connor being the one I am worried about! He was perfect in Grade 2 so must be soemthing they did! LOL! Thinking of you!

  2. Thanks, Heidi! Wish you could come here and teach my kids!!! Love you!

  3. Sounds like you and Chris handled the meeting extremely well. I still remember moving provinces and changing schools twice in Grade 4 as a 10 year old. I started out in Moncton NB, 2 months later moved to Edmonton AB (on Halloween day...no trick or treating to boot!!), and then 4 months later to St. Albert AB.

    During the first two months of Grade 4 in Moncton, I had learned all of my multiplication and division tables. But once I joined the new class in Edmonton only about a week later, I had forgotten everything! I believe now it was all the stress and newness of the move, but also the concepts had barely had time to form before I left, let alone to gel.

    I recall my teacher (at least I had a good one...you'll like this...she was also from the Maritimes!) asked me if I was having trouble with my math before the move and, in tears, I told her that I had known all my tables by heart before the move and I couldn't understand why I wasn't remembering. She was very understanding and after just a couple more weeks of refresh, I was getting gold stars on all my math drills.

    Thank goodness the psychologist was present at the meeting. Moving provinces, cities, schools at age 10 absolutely IS a big deal.

    Hugs to Connor!

  4. Leanne,
    I'm glad the meeting went well. I love that Chris went and asked some pointed questions. One of my huge pet peeves is when teachers (or curriculums) expect more from kids than what they are developmentally able to give. Easy for me to say, I know, I'm not a teacher!! Anyway, for it to truly be a team effort between home and school, they really need to hear your insight and piece of the puzzle, so I hope that it was heard. Thank goodness the psychologist was there supporting what you said! You all are in my prayers, hope the situation continues to improve! Love you!