Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Teacher reply about Ella's coloring

Edited specific copied text to cover my butt. Sorry. Didnt think about that.

The gist of the note is as follows:

She is sorry my daughter felt insulted, and she thought she made the directions clear. The purpose of the coloring sheet was to be used in a sharing activity later to help the kids get to know each other.

She said she told Ella that the way she colored was not the way the directions were given. She wants to talk to Ella and tell her what she meant. She wanted Ella to do a quality job, not hurt her feelings. And she asked my permission to talk to her.

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I'm relatively non-plussed with the reply. Firstly, there is a bit difference between "I don't allow that kind of coloring in my class." If the teacher had said "You didn't color the squares the way I asked you to", that's actually a whole different sentence. They both require explanation.. the first is more abstract and dismissive, and sounds like she is reprimanding. The second sounds less harsh and is more descriptive. So honestly, I'd like to know what she said and how she said it.

Right now, I am thinking I will let it go.. BUT, I will send a note in giving permission for her to talk to Ella in private to apologize, and ask that she be allowed to re-do the page with much more specific instruction.

Comment, please!!! I'd love to hear your take on this.

19 comments:

a49erfangirl said...

Oh boy this is a toughy. What does coloring have to do per say with other subjects? Why does it have to be perfect? Some kids don't like coloring so they do what ever they feel like. I don't really know what to say except do what your doing and if it happens again then don't let it go.

Tracy O said...

I am still wondering if she is just covering her behind. I would still ask her exactly what she said. It would be very important to me to know how she spoke to my child and if it was the first time. I think you might need to dig a bit deeper.

Too Many Hats said...

I would probably ask Ella if she remembers there being any instructions on how to color the page. Perhaps she thought she could see the wording still? I would allow the teacher to talk to her and apologize for sure.

Kimberly Eddy said...

reading it, I'm thinking maybe she misspoke or Ella misunderstood or mis-heard. I can see how it could be confusing if the teacher wanted them to color a certain way and children didn't realize there was different ways to draw...or what the intent of the project was.

Praise God for a teacher who wants to work it out, though. :-)

Jen said...

Ella doesn't have any memory of there being instruction on the purpose of the coloring page, but that certainly doesn't mean that there wasn't any presented. I will know more after the two of them talk tomorrow, hopefully. I know Ella well, though, and I know she will just smile and nod and say "Okay" to whatever the teacher says, will be too scared to advocate for herself. I intend to make my note to the teacher clear about how very specific she needs to be in the directions for the assignment.

cwalkman said...

When I read the part, "...having her do a quality job..." I got my hackles up. First of all, I know that my own daughter struggles with fine motor skill tasks and sometimes has problems understanding complex directions - she may need a little more direction and perhaps an example to look at to model. We absolutely dread art projects because she struggles with them so much and always ends up feeling like she's done a horrible job. And, it can be difficult to get some teachers to understand how difficult art or other fine motor skill activities are for someone whose fingers and hands don't work as well as others do. I personally hated to get neatness grades, handwriting or "quality work" grades because try as I might, I didn't measure up.

May I suggest that before giving the green light to the teacher to talk with your daughter about it, you make sure that she understands the motor skills challenges that Ella has. I have had some success in generating empathy by suggesting that the teacher consider trying the activity herself with some heavy winter gloves on to demonstrate the difficulty that my daughter has when it comes to fine motor skills. Just a thought...

And, maybe I'm over-reacting, but I've received similar responses in the past and it brings back some memories. Best of luck and tell Ella that we'd hang her art on the fridge any day!

spectrummother said...

This is a hard one for me to comment on. As a former teacher, I would say to look at the past history of the teacher's relationship with your daughter and other children. Is this a repeated problem? Do other parents have issues? If not, it might have been a misunderstanding. The teachers response, I thought, was careful and kind. She sounds like she is making an effort. Can you observe in the classroom or volunteer? Each teacher is so very different in their teaching style and all have their own personalities. As a parent, I would keep this incident in the back of my mind and be on the lookout for others. But let's just hope it was nothing and the rest of the year is calm. Sometimes teachers make mistakes. I think in pointing this one out, your daughter's teacher is well aware of your concerns. Thanks for sharing. ~ Marcie

Sallie said...

From my experience, this is a teacher who hasn't done her job and read up about how special needs kids function. I know teachers are very busy and that they have anywhere from 25 - 45 kids in their classrooms but each and every child is worth the same care, even if it takes more on the teachers part for those one or two extra special children. I'm sure she probably didn't mean to hurt Ella's feelings but she did... and she will again, especiallyif she doesn't try to learn more about how to clearly define and instruct Ella. AS kids need constant repitition of the rules and goals. I hope the school year gets better!!

dogwoodmama said...

I don't know. Her reply still kind of rubbed *me* the wrong way. For E's sake though I hope that it can be resolved in a way that helps her feel comfortable.

I agree with Sallie!

awelbaum said...

Hmm...it still irritates me. I would ask that teacher to watch how she words her directions in the future, and make sure that keeps them simple and age-appropriate. If your daughter is upset again, I would go directly to whoever is ABOVE that teacher, and speak with them. I would even see about switching teachers. Perhaps another teacher speaks differently, and uses different terminology that you agree with, and also works for your child.

I would also ask her why coloring in puzzle pieces is "quality work" that she's going to need in the work force after she graduates. Sounds to me like it's a preschool activity, unless this was for ART class and they were learning techniques.... :)

I would ask if maybe you could work with this teacher one on one, and have HER be the student while you pretend to be the teacher. YOU know what works for your child, so teach the teacher!

VTSunrise said...

Sorry it took so long to reply. Here is what I would do , you need an IEP meeting , you need to have it put( in the IEP ) that your child will be given small steps and that they will be confirmed that she understands( reason ASD kids have trouble generalizing and with instruction unless its direct ).

I would also ask , if this teacher has any ASD training if not what does she know personally about ASD, ask if a behaviorist can be brought in to teach the teacher. Tape the meeting , You have to notify first of the taping but you have the right under IDEIA. Also put the IEP meeting request in writing w/ the reason . Writing can be typed signed and faxed at least in our state. Check your laws by calling your DOE.

Nip this now before she suffers like my son this is the same grade where he started to really suffer.

Jen said...

Thanks for the feedback, especially regarding the IEP. She has never had one. Last schoolyear, she came into school mid-year, and I didnt know that I needed to write a letter specifically requesting she be tested, even though the principal and teacher were both aware from beginning. Letter was written on May 15th. Her testing is being done this week, and her IEP is scheduled for mid August. I will be tucking away any and all suggestions!

Kasi said...

I found you extremely selfish that you would even post this on your blog. You are showing as a mother of 4 that a teacher would not purposely repremend a child unless they were doing something wrong. Being a mother and a teacher we see this all the time were the child gives a different side of the story to the parent. Ella owes the teacher an apology.
Good luck on your venture

cwalkman said...

I think that Kasi is providing some excellent examples in her comment. It shows that even teachers aren't perfect - evidenced by the spelling errors in her comment. And, I'm not sure I understand her sentence - "You are showing as a mother of 4 that a teacher would not purposely repremend (sic) a child unless they were doing something wrong." I'm not sure that I understand the need to reprimand anyone who is doing an art project incorrectly. "Instruct", "guide", "correct" and "help" are the terms that I consider more applicable. After all, not everyone was meant to be an artist.

In the context of her negative comment about you being "extremely selfish" in posting this, I wonder what she means about that one. You are trying to get an understanding of what happened and, as Ella's mom, you are simply being her primary advocate and "self-less" in your quest to support and guide her. Additionally, you are sharing an example of a problem that your daughter is having and requesting feedback on how best to handle it. This is not only helpful to others who may be having similar issues but also allowing for an open exchange of ideas. And, the responses are helpful and certainly not just one-sided.

"Being a mother and a teacher we see this all the time were (sic) the child gives a different side of the story to the parent." This comment about children giving different side's of the story hints of a bias against children who view their side of the story differently from adults or teachers. Everyone has their side of the story and sometimes opposing sides come about simply as a result of ignorance, misunderstanding and miscommunication. We shouldn't always assume that either side is lying as is implied in the comment. And, an important point of your blog post was that you wanted to hear the other side of the story from Ella's teacher so that you could help to resolve a problem. I think you are handling this issue admirably.

Finally, how in the world can Ella possibly owe an apology to her teacher? I don't get that one at all. Ella came to you for help about something that upset her. She didn't act out in class and she didn't disrespect her teacher in anyway, shape or fashion. If it turns out that Ella simply misunderstood the teacher's intentions, then you will help her to better understand them. Her teacher should not be offended by that and may now have an understanding that Ella might need guidance in better interpreting constructive criticism. Conversely, if Ella's teacher doesn't understand her limitations, your pointing this out will help in bringing about that understanding and hopefully a wonderful learning experience for everyone involved.

From what I have read in your blog, Ella and my own daughter Marissa are very similar. And, I suspect that Ella may be just like Marissa in that she has a strong desire to please her teachers. When Marissa feels that her teacher disapproves of her work, she feels like she has let herself AND her teacher down. In many instances, Marissa does tend to think the worst when someone is merely trying to constructively help. It's an understandable reaction on her part though when one considers that she struggles to do many things that others find easy. Just a thought...

Many Blessings, Craig

Mary @ Giving Up On Perfect said...

Hello. I'm (finally) coming over from the Blog Hop - thank you for stopping at my place. Your daughter's story just broke my heart, although I don't have a clue how to handle it. I will say, though, that I was quite impressed by your use of "non-plussed." :) Sorry that's all I have for you!

VTSunrise said...

Jen you need to know your IDEIA ( Individuals With Disabilities Educational Improvement Act ) rights, you will also need to tape and record everything from audio to paper documents ( always )... if she is denied ( they like doing that with " High Functioning" ASD kids) you will need to go to Due Process...We might need a phone convo( Email me and Ill send my number ) BTW they cant just verbally deny they have to give you a written reason why. It took us 2 yrs , 5 requests and a Due Process Mediation to get our 7yr old tested ... guess who is on an IEP :)

RE no one telling you about an IEP or at the very least a 504( don't settle for a 504 if you can help it , its got so many holes its like Swiss cheese) it is $$$$$ they don't want to spend it. They are required by law to provide FAPE ( Free Appropriate Public Education )and for kids like ours its costs more.

Chele said...

Hello! I came by from Type A Mom Conference (was trying to figure out what it is all about) but I wanted to let you know I was here! You have a beautiful blog! I actually have been in a similar situation you are it's hard to know how far you should go. It's a big worry for a Mama to realize that if we complain about a teacher too much it may make them react differently to your child. (well at least it could)The hardest part when it comes to our children is realizing we are all human and make mistakes but if it is something that has happened before I would definitely make a fuss! Good luck with whatever you decide!

mary beth said...

I read the real note and your abridged version of it. Good idea to remove. I felt teacher may have been "caught" if you will, maybe didn't realize the emotional impact, and is now aware. Hopefully her future behavior will indicate so. If not, start documeting. Wishing you the best.
I hate that silly directions interfered with a getting aquainted activity.

laryssa said...

Like Mary Beth, I also read the real note & the edited version above. As a parent, I was initially ruffled at the incident. I'm a home school mom of five years and one of the most important lessons I learned in the beginning was regarding tempering my responses [as a teacher] to my students whenever they 1) do well and 2) when they don't follow through. Though there is often the temptation speak out of frustration as teachers, wreckless words pierce like a sword, period. But we all make mistakes, adults & kids alike. It just hurts whenever it's our own children. I would allow her to clarify with Ella & let it go for now/extend grace. I know that you will stay on top of it. :)

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