Saturday, May 17, 2008

Seeing red...

And I don't mean my roses!

Dante came home from school yesterday (Friday) with tears in his eyes. Usually he's very happy, so I knew something was up. He was upset because his teacher had written lots of words in English on the board (the colors, the days of the week, common nouns) and had told the students to write them in alphabetical order on a worksheet.

Copying from the board has always taken Dante a little longer than the others, the subject doesn't matter. He chose to not make a scrap copy of the words, but instead chose to write them directly from the board onto the worksheet. It was hard for him because he didnt have the ability to cross off the ones he had used already. As a result, he was the last one finished and the English teacher's 30 minute lesson for the day was over.

What got my blood boiling was the teacher said to him that "all the others write better than you in English" and "don't you do anything for the hour that you study with your mother every week?"

I went into school this morning ready to do battle with this teacher!! How dare she humiliate him in front of all his classmates in the one subject he shines in! Insulting me also that we weren't doing anything! Was she just trying to make herself look better at Dante's expense? Was she angry that we took an hour per week out of her class time and was trying to say: well, if you can't write English don't blame me?

And besides, what did copying words fromt he board and putting them in alphabetical order have to do with WRITING except at the most simplistic level? As anyone familiar with writing in English knows, it takes years of reading regularly, weekly spelling lists spelling patterns and PRACTICE to get proficient. It's not like phonetic Italian, which the kids learn to read and write fairly well within six months!

When I saw the teacher I said I wanted to make an appointment to speak with her. She came to the door to speak with me as she explained she has no office hours as she works in three schools. What she did explain is that it was ANOTHER teacher who came on very severe with him. Now that teacher won't be in until Monday. Just as well. I'll cool down a bit, but I will speak my
MORAL: When life has you seeing red, make strawberry frozen yogurt! (I am, again!)


Jane said...

Diane, I am so sorry that you and Dante experienced this. We were happy with Casey's teachers after we realized that teachers in Italy are quite different than ones in the US who have had a much different type of training in how to reach and encourage kids. However, it is not excusable for any teacher to do what was done to Dante. Of course, speaking to the principal in Italy is not a done thing. I hope you are able to help Dante's teacher care more about the emotional and self=concept issues that children have. Bizarrely, Casey did have that "same" teacher here in the second grade. Casey has always been been exceptionally bright but this teacher insisted that he belonged in slow learning groups and we could not change her mind. Fortunately we were able to make up for her deficiencies with what we did at home. She no longer teachers, thank goodness.

Diane said...

Thanks Jane. This teacher was using the "motivate through humiliation" methodology and I guess it worked a bit as he studied all the words they've been using this morning before school. But at what price? Fortunately she didn't do too much damage, I don't think, as when he saw how ready, willing and able I was to defend him he felt better. "At least say good morning first mom!" he reminded me. Ha! Now I have to face the real guilty one, the Italian/Math teacher on Monday. Today was just practice.

By the way, Dante left a comment on KC's blog and has been inspired to start his up again.

Alyson said...

You are so lucky your son is still happy for you to go in and see the teacher! Alexander vetoed my involvement from about the age of 9, so maybe it's coming. He was always a slow finisher because he likes to get it right all the time! From experience you won't get this teacher to change but at least you and Dante will feel better for trying! Glad I found your blog! Nice to see how others with kids are doing here. I saw the penguins - cute! So I know there is good stuff too!

Michelle | Bleeding Espresso said...

Good for you Diane! Actually I remember quite a few teachers like this from when I was growing up in America; they didn't humiliate me, but they did plenty others...needless to say they were never even close to my favorite teachers.

I hope the meeting went well.

Anonymous said...

the same thing happened to me and a lot of kids in the new york city system. i had that problem with mrs. lang an art teacher. art was not my thing and after being made fun of in front of the class again and again i finally told her to F herself. after talking with the principal and my mother mrs. lang and i got along very well after that. it hurts but it makes you stronger. it will happen again so don't get to angry. ==dad