Thursday, November 08, 2007

What did I say?

Well. If you are curious, I will tell you what exactly it was that I said in part of my "crazy lady" spew at Aj's IEP.

History: AJ has PDD-NOS (pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified) and ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder) among other things. He is in a regular third grade class with a full-time aide. In the past teachers and therapists have reported that they have really enjoyed him.

Not this years teacher. AJ is struggling in school. Third grade is notorious for being harder and being a spotlight time for any kids having difficulties. i have met and talked with Ms. Pine about 4 or 5 times. Sometimes in an IEP and sometimes not. She goes on about how "zoned out he is", how "he just isn't really there." Now these things are true. But she goes on and never, once ever, does she say anything that could remotely be considered a compliment or positive comment. This even after I sat alone with her one day and said through tears, "As a Mom, if you could think of one good thing to say about AJ, it would really, really help me out." No go.

So after 2 hours in the IEP of reading her negative body language and hearing more negative comments and her defering to the "specialists" as if she had little or no role, I was wearing thin. At 5:30 she started to pack up her things to leave this fun party with a guest list of 8.
I looked at Ben, who was running the meeting and said, "Is the meeting over?"
This was really kind of a passive aggressive comment on my part-as I knew it wasn't.
He started, "Well, I..."
Then Ms Pine said, "Come on guys. I am really tired." And she stood up to go. Like we were all burdening her by discussing AJ.
She said that to a table full of professionals, and us.
It was then that I snapped.
I stood and started yelling. Yelling in that kind of out-of-body, is-that-really-me kind of way.
"YOUR tired. Well go ahead and go home. And while you are there, think of something nice to say about my kid! BECAUSE YOU NEVER HAVE!"
Then I proceeded to carry on and wasn't quite as on target.
Earlier today I sent an email apologizing for raising my voice. I did not apologize for what I said. But I doubt that nuance was noticed.


  1. It's Liz from I Speak of Dreams. I'm sending you a BIG hug. And another one for Aj (should he accept such things from people he doesn't know) who has to endure every school day with that woman.

    I just finished reading Priscilla Vail's Emotion: The On Off Switch for Learning. Of course he is struggling -- who wouldn't with such a rejecting old trout as a teacher?

    Is it possible for him to switch to another classroom?

  2. I found you via the link from Liz' blog.

    I have about six bazillion things I'd like to spew about how this teacher needs to retire and I don't care if she's only 28, she still needs to retire because she has a really bizarre notion of what it means to teach.

    Where did she get the impression that it's your son's job ALONE to engage? Let's start with that. If he's not engaging, perhaps she should start with a hard look at what SHE's doing to encourage him.

    But enough about her. Your son sounds wonderful. I read through some of your blog posts about him and the one that touched me the most was the one about him always being optimistic. My ADHD son is also an optimist. Fundamentally, at the very core of his being, he wakes up every morning with hopes for the best. Sometimes it happens; other times it doesn't, yet he still wakes up the next day indefatigably (is that word?) optimistic. He is undefeatable.

    And you want him to stay that way. This teacher doesn't. She wants to stick him in her box and define him that way at the expense of his morale and learning experience.

    It could be that the first prong of this IEP is going to be to get him into a different classroom, as Liz suggests. What is the point of going to school if the teacher can't find one single good thing to say about him? GAWD.

    I wish I'd found your blog sooner, but I'm sure glad I did now. You have friends out there who have walked in your shoes, and his.

    I'm glad you apologized for how you said it and not what you said. It sounds like she had it coming.

  3. My son had a particularly nitpicky teacher last year, and a lot of the conferences felt like she was just treating them as an opportunity to vent, so I know how you feel. Teachers don't always act in the most professional manner, and sometimes reasonable words won't get through. My own mother is a master of using controlled irrationality to get through to people. Just don't use it too often.

    Good luck with Aj and this situation. A lot of school, especially at the elementary level, depends on the teacher, and it's been my opinion many teachers value quiet, meek behavior more than anything else in students. I haven't read too many of your blog posts about him yet, though what I have read he seems energetic and outgoing.

    I'm planning an post on the relative equity between teachers and parents on my own blog.

  4. A big hug to you, Amiga. I'm so sorry that you are having a hard time with this teacher, who is obviously a total asshole. She just doesn't get it. I wouldn't worry too much about what she thinks of you ... there wasn't much of a relationship there anyway, and if she has a single ounce of professionalism she will not take out any feelings she may have for you against AJ.

    And don't spend too much energy and worry about having a single outburst in six years of ieps. You are just trying to do right by your children, that 's what it is all about. Of course you are passionate about what happens to them.

  5. I came here from Liz's blog (I Speak Of Dreams). I too would like to give you a hug.....

    I'm LEP at Schwablearning Forum (in case you have not visited there - go and have some more support). I understand what you're feeling....