Category Archives: high school graduation

My Child Hates His Teacher! My Child Loves His Teacher!

Today is January 5, 2011.  We have started a new year and many students  have teachers they did not have last semester.   It is almost like the beginning of school.  I am sharing this popular post again.  It is all about communication, the most important element in a classroom.  Please read the comments others have left and add your thoughts.

Teachers and students have a unique relationship. For 180 days a year, many students are with their teachers MORE waking hours than they are with us. Ouch! How can I, as a parent, help insure that this relationship is positive for all parties?

#1. Communicate! Your teacher is most reachable by email. Email her or him the first week of school. Doesn’t so much matter what you say as long as it is SHORT and SUPPORTIVE. This email will help your child stand out quicker and will get your email in the “easy to reply” category. All student info is in the system but not necessarily user-friendly, up-to-date, or easy to find.
#2. Be Proactive! Do not say to the teacher, “Just let me know if my child needs help or if there is any problem”. Your teacher will try to do this anyway but maybe not as quickly as you would like. Why? High school teachers have up to 150 students daily. Even the BEST teacher cannot always report every need, every disturbance, every everything the moment it happens. On the other hand, you probably only have one or two children to keep up with. Don’t rely on the teacher to ‘let you know’.
#3. Grades are online 24-7 in almost every school now. Watch them at least weekly. Give the teacher a week to grade and post major tests. See a zero? Don’t let it slide. Know the makeup policy. “I didn’t know is no excuse”. Sounds harsh, I know.
#4. Know your child’s counselor. Your child, you, the teacher, and counselor can solve just about any problem that arises. Be a team.
#5. If the teacher/counselor are reachable by phone, put their numbers in your phone. I am not saying to bug them or call everyday with trivial concerns. I am saying that if something is really bothering you or your child, do not sit on it. Communicate with the one who knows them best in the entire building, their teacher.

Stay tuned for more tips to come. Share your thoughts too. People like to get ideas from others in the same boat…..especially while everything is still afloat if you get my drift.

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Autism! Do You Stereotype it?

There are so many degrees of autism!

Let’s not paint “autistic” children with one sweep of the brush making broad statements about how amazing it is to have them graduate from high school. http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/07/02/autism.high.school/index.html?eref=rss_topstories.

While it is true that you cannot be just a little bit pregnant…you either are pregnant or you are not…children may be mildly autistic or severely so. As teachers we must know all that we can about every autistic student we teach. They vary as widely as any other students. I remember one student whose brilliance in mathematics far exceeded my own abilities. Did he behave or learn like everyone else? No! But then neither did the kid who sat next to him and the one across the room who was a perfectly “normal” teenage math student.

Another young fellow with a diagnosis of autism, also quite bright, struggled because he was so different. Often he struggled with me, I must admit, as my patience sometimes wore thin. The math? No problem for him. Graduating? No problem for him. Doing his homework? Problem!!! Staying on task? Problem!!! Peer interaction? Sometimes problem! Other students do understand as much as they can with the maturity they possess, but alas, they are kids too. Big buddies one minute, not the next. Goes both ways. So, in my view, autistic children on the mild end of the spectrum are very much like the rest of us but some lack social filters and some have tough shells.

My hat is off to all special education teachers who make sure these students’ needs are met. My hat is also off to all of their subject teachers who continually try to learn ways to reach them. Fail, try again. And again. And again. Then success! And my hat is off most of all to their parents who never give up and are always their biggest advocates, never accepting their supposed limits.
Can they graduate? Many can. Our next job, and I say “OUR” because I believe it really does take a village, is to help them transition from high school to their next appropriate step with all the support they need and deserve. Isn’t this what we want for all our children?