Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Not Feelin' It--Why I Don't Love O's School Team

I remember my own school days very well and I recall which teachers I really enjoyed and those that never really made the mark with me.  Owen's 3's team was amazing and communicated with me almost daily, either at pick up time or through our communication notebook.

But this year in Pre-K, I just feel like something is off.  I don't feel like I know much of what he's doing on a daily basis--the teacher prefers to communicate by email, which may be fine for some things, but for immediate information it would be nice to have a quick chat with her at pick up time.  Normally one of the aides brings Owen out at pick up and they'll try to give me some insights into the day, but it's just not the same as hearing from the teacher.  Whenever the teacher does bring Owen out, she usually has something negative to report:  "Owen dumped a bucket of toys out and refused to clean them up."  "Owen didn't want to use scissors today and tried to hide under the table."  "Owen tried to run away out on the playground."  It's gotten to the point that when I see her walking with him, I say to myself, "Oh boy, here we go!" 

It's a similar vibe I get from his SLP and OT from school.  There just seems to be so little communication from them.  I know Owen isn't the easiest client--he doesn't like to use scissors or work on writing or look at a stack of flashcards.  But he can work hard if given some incentives and a little bit of a push.  He is doing an awesome job in private therapy, so I know he can do what is asked of him.

When we had our first conference in November, I felt rushed, trying to ask questions about what Owen is doing and what goals they are working on.  So I called for an informal meeting a couple of weeks ago with his teacher just to see where he's at and if there is anything going on that I could help with or that I should know.  We talked about his need for sensory breaks (and I found out that they have a sensory room at the school that she isn't even utilizing!) and I gave some pointers on what things work to get Owen motivated (First, then directions; picture schedules; firm/consistent/repeated directions; short work periods with short breaks in between) and what things don't work (stickers, behavior charts, candy/money rewards).   I could tell she hadn't even tried these things with Owen, which I just can't understand.  These are not new ideas; these are things that special education (and regular education!) teachers have been doing for years, decades and that's because they work.  I know they work with Owen because we do them at home.

Yesterday was the straw that broke my back, so to speak.  I get an email from his teacher at 4pm that, oh by the way, Owen banged his head on the floor and against a wooden cabinet out of frustration today and I was just too busy to let you know earlier.  Uh, banging your head on anything, but especially a concrete floor, is definitely something a parent should be told about and it should be relayed much, much sooner!  A blow to the head can cause a little something I like to call a mild concussion, so yeah, I would have liked to know this information so I could have kept an eye on him (luckily he wasn't exhibiting any signs of a concussion yesterday).   I was NOT a happy camper in my reply email and although I kept my cool (I wrote it, walked away for a few hours, had the hubs read it, edited it and then sent it before going to bed), I put her on notice and now we are scheduling another meeting to "talk".  You can bet I won't be going alone to this one.

So yes, I am frustrated.  I am hoping things change as the school year goes on.  I really want to trust in the team and to feel that they are doing their best to educate and assist Owen.  Part of me wonders if he just hasn't made much of a connection with them.  He seems to really like both classroom aides and he is always happy to go to school.   I don't want this school year to feel like it was a throw away because these early years are important.  I don't want to be "that parent" either.....the one the teacher dreads talking to because she feels cornered, threatened, or annoyed, but I don't think I'm asking too much to know how he's doing on a weekly basis or to know some positive things that he is doing because I know he has strengths and has made some progress in some areas.  I realize that you aren't going to love every teacher your kid has; it's just not possible, but if communication is the key, then we need to find a better way.


  1. I can't believe you had to give suggestions like that!! A teacher should know to try things like that without having it be told to them. Ug...I feel your frustration. It also made me sad to hear about Owen banging his head in frustration :(
    I hope you can get things worked out with Owens teachers...Sending him to a school where you don't get good info on what's going on during the day cannot be fun!

  2. That's very frustrating! And you know what...if you have to be 'that mom' then that's just the way it is. Sometimes, the squeaky wheel gets the grease as they say. hang in there! I hope it gets better and you feel better about the situation soon. Owen deserves it!

  3. Oh mama I'm sorry. I imagine this is extremely frustrating. I can't believe she didn't call you immediately after the head hitting incident! That is insane to me. I hope the next meeting you have gets things going in the right direction. Hugs!

  4. Hi, I came here from "Love That Max". You must have been so frustrated with the whole system! Good luck when you talk with the teacher!

  5. Oh my gosh. We are so lucky with Boo's team. They all have my cell and will frequently text me pictures or will answer me if I am nervous about something. We have a communication book (since Boo can't) that does help but it never has enough information. That is why I refuse to send her on the bus. I want them to see us and know that we are going to ask direct questions.

    Too busy is not an answer, it's their job to give their attention to Owen. I would have a meeting with the team and if that doesn't work go over their head.

    Hang in there


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