How To Approach Teachers

Lounge By mbelgard Updated 22 Apr 2008 , 5:03am by Texas_Rose

mbelgard Posted 31 Mar 2008 , 2:57pm
post #1 of 16

This afternoon I have parent/teacher conferences and I have an issue I want to ask the teachers about and I just don't know how to handle it.

My son is a book worm and brings his novels to school to read during free time. A few days ago he told me that one of the teachers said she didn't agree with some of the stuff he reads.

I'm not sure what she meant by the comment so I don't know how to talk to her about it. If she meant that she thinks I'm letting him read things that are too hard I can kind of understand her comments but we don't believe in telling him that something is too hard. We never force him to read anything and I've told him many times that if something is too hard he can always set it aside for when he's older. He loves to push himself and reads very hard books for his age.

The thing I'm worried she meant was that she has religious objections to the stuff he reads. I suspect that because he just finished the "his dark materials" series, the one with the "Golden Compass" as the first book. We live in a Catholic area and I know that kids at school have told him he's a sinner because he reads those books and doesn't go to church (in our area 3rd graders are confirmed so these kids are hearing alot of religion right now). She said it about another book that he brought in right after called "The Journeys of the Catechist" (sp?) so I'm not really sure.

Either my mother or I screen his books for objectionable material before we give them to him so WE don't have a problem with what he reads.

Either way I really would rather she not question our judgement about what is right for my child to read to him but I don't know how to deal with this.

15 replies
ccr03 Posted 31 Mar 2008 , 3:28pm
post #2 of 16

I wouldn't be around the brush with it. After the conferences, tell her that you have something you wanted to discuss with her. Tell her that you are a bit confused by something that your son told you. And then tell her what your son told him. Then go from there.

I mean, like be polite in tone and everything, but you really don't know all the details and it's never good to enter into a conversation with an already hostile attitude.

adonisthegreek1 Posted 2 Apr 2008 , 7:43pm
post #3 of 16

Mbelgard, what was the outcome at conferences? Was it because of religion? I hope you were very straight-forward (but polite) in speaking with her. if the teacher has a problem with your child's reading materials, she should speak with the adults--not make comments to a child.

darandon Posted 2 Apr 2008 , 8:03pm
post #4 of 16

I had a similar problem when I was in 6th grade, my teacher objected to the books I read. She said they were too far advanced for me and i should stick to what was in the lesson plan. My mom explained that I'd read what ever I wanted to read and in the end it would make me a better student.
I take the same approach with my daughter now - she's 14 and I look at all that she reads, but in the end, if she wants to read it, I let her.
Did you talk to your childs teacher about it yet, I hope all turned out well.

Auryn Posted 2 Apr 2008 , 8:13pm
post #5 of 16

I would love to hear what happened at the conference.
I don't have kids but I was a total bookworm growing up

if I ever have kids I will definitely try to make them the same
It amazes me that a teacher could be so narrow minded as to tell you to stick to your grade level darandon- that boggles my mind

funcakes Posted 3 Apr 2008 , 11:30pm
post #6 of 16

Okay, my advice is to calmly repeat what your son said and then listen to what she/he meant by the comment.
Be optimistic. It could be something unexpected. I discuss books my students read and sometimes I say things like-I don't agree with the author. I didn't like this character just to start them thinking and push them into discussing their own personal viewpoint. Getting them ready to accept all people don't have to see things the same way and that's great!

Now for my story. Irate mom calls me after school. Rants and raves on and on. How could anyone tell a good reader like her daughter that she could not read her chapter book. Asks what is wrong with me. Claims she KNOWS I said it and demands that I explain. When she finally takes a breath I quickly tell her that I did say that but the whole statement was: Jennifer you can not read your chapter book during the math lesson. You need to participate in math. Silence then laughter-Oh, yeah-that sounds just like my daughter!

So, you never know-but we are curious about what the teacher really said-keep us posted-

Doug Posted 4 Apr 2008 , 2:00am
post #7 of 16

"not agree with" is NOT the same as

"you shouldn't read"

or

"you are wrong"

----

when will we "get it" that we can DISAGREE with out it being a condemnation of the other person.

this was perfect opportunity to teach respect for different viewpoints, values and opinions.

the teacher is entitled to have her opinion of the book to express her disagreement with its contents, themes, values and should be accorded respect for her different viewpoint and not challenged or condemned for holding a different view.

----

personal example regarding movie version of the Golden Compass.

my student's asked me if I was going to see it and if I recommended it.

my answer: NO -- i will not see it nor can I recommend it as it goes against everything I believe.
My faith (yes I said faith to them) says that the author of the book on which it is based is wrong. Further, the author has publicly stated he is purposefully trying to turn children away from the Christian faith and believes the Christian faith to be wrong and harmful. Therefore as a Christian I won't see it or read it.

they were fine with that -- and notice -- it is my view which they are free to accept or discard (just like most of the lessons teachers give it seems) as they choose.

mbelgard Posted 19 Apr 2008 , 1:54pm
post #8 of 16

Sorry it took me so long to get back, I haven't really been on CC much the last few weeks and didn't notice that this had gotten replies. icon_redface.gif

The teacher's comments were based on some religious objections to it but we've worked out our differences. It didn't get into going to the principal or anything, I just let her know, nicely, that we don't have religious issues with the stuff he reads and that he doesn't need her unsolicited opinion.

Doug, your situation was probably far different than what happened with my child. In yours the kids asked you about your opinion and you didn't just make a comment based on a book you saw a kid reading. If I'm not mistaken you also teach older children, mine is a third grader. I think you may have been in a bit of a gray area but I doubt I would have objected to something like that as long as the teacher was only stating why HE won't read the books.

I'm not rabid about keeping my child away from any mention of religion but if I wanted teachers to tell him that he shouldn't be reading something due to religious reasons I would have sent him to a religious school. I even tell him some of the basic tales in the bible because I think they are needed to understand what he reads (like knowing who Adam and Eve are when reading Narnia). When he's older I plan to encourage him to read the bible because I think it's an interesting book.

DaisyLisa17 Posted 20 Apr 2008 , 2:57am
post #9 of 16

As a third grade teacher myself in Texas (with crazy hard standardized test crap), if a child brings in a book that I personally would not be interested in, I would never tell that child that they couldnt read it in their free time. If my students are excited about reading a certain book, I am just excited they are excited about reading! In third grade in Texas, the kids take the Reading TAKS test. Basically, they have reading passages crammed down their throats in preparation for the test, and they end up hating reading. My goal is to keep reading exciting, and allowing them to read what they are interested in for FUN, I think keeps reading exciting altogether.

Now, as for reading a book on a higher level.... I have asked a student to check out library books on a lower level, because he couldnt possibly read and comprehend the words or ideas in that particular book. Allowing them to read books that are above their level would be doing quite a disservice to them. They skip over words they dont know, causing them to not comprhend anything they've read. Reading books that are on their level, and just below, helps to build fluency which make them better readers in the end. Oh, did I mention I teach ESL kiddos as well? These lower level books also help with learning the english vocabulary.

I'm glad everything worked out with your child and his teacher. I'm especially glad that you are so encouraging to having your son read at home. He's obviously excited about his books enough to take them to school with him, and that is a wonderful thing.

mbelgard Posted 20 Apr 2008 , 2:36pm
post #10 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaisyLisa17

I'm especially glad that you are so encouraging to having your son read at home. He's obviously excited about his books enough to take them to school with him, and that is a wonderful thing.




We spend quite a bit of time telling him to play instead of read. icon_lol.gif We even bought him a dirt bike a couple years ago to help get his nose OUT of his books.

With books being too hard he's a little different than the average. He started kindergarten unable to read more than his name and his brother's. By the time he started first grade he had read the second Harry Potter book. His teachers thought I was working with him at home and I thought that's what they teach in kindergarten until half way through the year. icon_redface.gif He's one of those kids that just pick it up, he hasn't had a teacher instructing him in reading full time since kindergarten but his comprehension was 6.9 at the begining of this school year.

cookingfor5 Posted 20 Apr 2008 , 7:37pm
post #11 of 16

I was reading the same kind of books at that age and understood everything that I read. If I came across a word I didn't understand I would ask, but they were usually words that were no longer used in our language, "Old English" and such. My son reads a lot too and has started reading novels in 3rd grade. His teacher encourages him to read.

As for the comment from the teacher. I completely respect the way you handled it. I have had teachers give their opinions to kids and I don't think they realize how much the kids believe them. A teacher once told my son about all the things that she wouldn't eat. She was a picky eater and didn't realize that the kids were hearing that it was o.k. not to eat healthy foods like their vegetables. Another teacher was giving political views in class. That information is better given to high school students who have started to understand those things, but not to gradeschool kids who believe what you tell them. Opinions are great if you share them with someone who can have an equal discussion with you about it.

funcakes Posted 20 Apr 2008 , 9:57pm
post #12 of 16

RATS! My husband always tells me I don't know what is going on in the big outside world. After reading these posts, now I have to admit to him he is right. After 36 years of marriage-I hate doing that!

I teach in a public school in NJ. I do not know where these teachers teach that they are allowed to make statements about religion, politics, etc. but in my district, even with tenure, a teacher would be in serious HOT WATER to even hint at their own personal religious view point. My kids (first and second graders) do not even know which religion I practice or if I have any beliefs at all, and they spend two years with me. A friend of mine in a different district was asked to wear her necklace with a religious symbol next to her skin (under her dress, blouse) so it was not visible to the students.

As far as reading a book that is challenging for a student, or the storyline may be too advanced for him/her, I show the parent how to sit shoulder to shoulder with their child. Then they let the child read, if their child comes to a passage that is too difficult, or they are tired of reading, they just slightly elbow the adult and the adult takes over the reading for a few pages. This also lets a parent (or any adult) stop and explain anything that might be confusing to the kid. Even if the child understands everything in the book they seem to love doing this. Such a nice thing-to share a book!

mbelgard Posted 20 Apr 2008 , 10:31pm
post #13 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by funcakes


I teach in a public school in NJ. I do not know where these teachers teach that they are allowed to make statements about religion, politics, etc. but in my district, even with tenure, a teacher would be in serious HOT WATER to even hint at their own personal religious view point.




Well we're on a reservation in North Dakota so we're far away from everything that goes on in the wide world. In a way it's nice, they haven't banned Christmas parties and stuff. Our kids are even allowed to play tag or pretend to sword fight on the playground as long as no one gets rough.

To put it another way my husband remembers praying in school until about 2nd grade. He's sure that prayer wasn't removed by the courts until then. He turned 30 in November so I haven't quite figured that out. icon_eek.gif

Doug Posted 21 Apr 2008 , 12:47am
post #14 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by funcakes

A friend of mine in a different district was asked to wear her necklace with a religious symbol next to her skin (under her dress, blouse) so it was not visible to the students.




an unlawful act on the part of her district!

as is banning any discussion by anyone of religion in your district. we do not check our first amendment rights at the school house door.

---
and in my district in the south...

well can we say "bible belt" -- so you can guess how openly religion is discussed and practiced even at public school events

dldbrou Posted 22 Apr 2008 , 12:25am
post #15 of 16

On the subject of a child reading above their level, let me say that when my son was in third grade they were required to read a certain level of books and get tested on what they read. My son kept complaining that he did not like the books they were required to read and that he was bored in class. I asked the teacher if there was any way he would be allowed to check out books from a higher level and was told no, he had to stay with his level. So, I would take him to the store and let him pick out what he was interested in. His first books he chose was J. R. Token's "The Hobbit" set. He would read them at night before going to bed. Well, when the end of year testing was graded, we discovered that he was reading on an eleventh grade level. His fourth grade teacher encouraged him to read anything and everything. How else is a person suppose to make a well rounded decision on any topic if they don't read all the positive and negatives about it? You can imagine all the debates we had as a family while he grew up because he wanted to discuss whatever he was reading.

Texas_Rose Posted 22 Apr 2008 , 5:03am
post #16 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by funcakes


I teach in a public school in NJ. I do not know where these teachers teach that they are allowed to make statements about religion, politics, etc. but in my district, even with tenure, a teacher would be in serious HOT WATER to even hint at their own personal religious view point. My kids (first and second graders) do not even know which religion I practice or if I have any beliefs at all, and they spend two years with me.




I wish that the schools here were as considerate. My daughter came home singing about Hanukkah not long before the kinder musical, as wel as belting out some song where the chorus was "Oh my Lord" at the TOP of her lungs. I went to the school to ask why they were teaching religious songs, and they said, "Oh don't worry, Mrs. Gaytan, we have a variety so that other religions are not excluded." I explained that I didn't want her to be taught any religious songs and now they treat me like I'm the worst parent in the world...except when they're asking me to donate a cake.

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