August 22, 2010

Red Flag

Schuyler begins the fifth grade tomorrow.

So it begins.

I've written at length about the anxiety we experienced last spring in Schuyler's most recent IEP meeting (here and here and here), so you can imagine there's a certain amount of trepidation around here as we start back up. Nothing has really changed over the summer, except perhaps that everyone has had time to either think about what's best for Schuyler or entrench themselves more deeply in their positions.

Well, perhaps some of us have been doing both. I'll own up to that.

A few days ago, Schuyler's school held its annual "Meet the Teacher" hour. It's not a big deal, just a chance to see the classroom and meet with the new teacher and dump off the required metric ton of school supplies. But for us, this first meeting with Schuyler's mainstream teacher has always presented an opportunity to try to measure one thing in particular.

Is this teacher going to understand? Is this teacher going to get Schuyler?

This year, we had an additional concern. At last spring's IEP meeting, we were informed that the school's diagnostician wanted to do an evaluation of Schuyler that she anticipated would result in my daughter being identified as mentally retarded. Furthermore, she expressed the opinion that it was extremely unlikely that Schuyler would ever be fully mainstreamed. This evaluation met with the tacit agreement of the rest of her team. (It's probably worth going back and reading what I wrote at the time, "Truth can be a monster, too".) This year, we're operating under this new reality, or rather this new reality as defined (and data-supported, by golly) by the school.

Schuyler's special education team remains the same this year, as it has pretty consistently for a while. The "Meet the Teacher" hour has always been an important one for us, in that it has given us our first glimpse of how Schuyler's mainstream teacher might approach her. We've had positive meetings in the past, such as last year when her new teacher admitted that she was reading my book in order to try to have a better understanding of how Schuyler works, or the meeting with her second grade teacher, the one who eventually started studying up on brain disorders like Schuyler's and who expressed her desire to continue towards special education certification even after Schuyler had moved on. We've also had bad vibes at these meetings, when we met teachers who seemed friendly enough but who seemed to put up the wall, the one that suggests "You are parents and I am a teacher, and while I don't know for a fact that you are morons, let's just start there anyway." And our impressions turned out to be sadly prescient.

This year, however, we wanted to impress upon the new mainstream teacher that our own personal expectations were going to be much higher than what her IEP indicated. We wanted the new teacher to know that what we wanted, what we expected, was for her to be an overbeliever in Schuyler.

Well, we didn't get the opportunity. To put it bluntly, we were completely and, we believe, deliberately blown off.

When we came to the classroom, the new teacher was greeting and talking to other parents, but from the moment she saw us, she could barely give us the time of day. She was short with Julie for having some trouble with Schuyler's desk, and was unfazed when the problem turned out to be that the desk had been placed backwards. She wouldn't make eye contact with either of us and placed herself on the opposite side of the room from wherever we stood. When I finally walked up to her and began asking questions of her, she answered ONE of them, then turned and actually initiated a conversation with another parent.

It was rude, but more than that, it felt deliberate. She actually refused to talk to me about my daughter. I wondered if I was just being overly sensitive until Julie said, "Wow, I don't think I've ever seen anyone be that rude to you, ever."

I don't know anything about this teacher, other than the fact that she did work with Schuyler a little in a supervisory capacity last year in the after school program. She may feel like she knows all she needs to about Schuyler, and therefore our input isn't necessary. God knows I've met plenty of teachers who wear a very thinly veiled contempt for the parents of their students, and I understand that they've probably got perfectly understandable reasons for feeling that way.

But when I mentioned this on Facebook, one person suggested another possibility. "It sounds like you are what is known as a 'red-flag parent' - you actually want them to do their job, follow the law and listen to you and your concerns," she said. "They don't like that, because it costs them time, effort and money."

That seems a bit extreme, but I don't know. That may very well be the case. And if it is, then fine. I can't believe at this stage that anyone at Schuyler's school would ever think we might respond well to a "shut up and go away" vibe, but sure. We can start this year off like this. We don't have to have the conversation about our expectations for Schuyler's future during the "Meet the Teacher" hour.

We will certainly be having it, though. Sooner rather than later.

When I wrote Schuyler's Monster, I gave the book an ending that felt positive, but not for narrative reasons so much as because that's how our situation felt at the time. Her new school, our new community, all of it felt positive, like we'd begun a new chapter in Schuyler's life. But the reality is that even in a good school, the people who teach a child can lose their way. Even in a home where both parents advocate hard for their kid, they can miss the keys that open the right doors. There aren't any tidy endings or rousing victories. Only the ongoing work, the struggle to get it right, and by doing so, to give her a chance in this rough world.

I know that Schuyler's school district is one of the best in the state, and maybe in the country. And I certainly understand that by now, the teachers who work with Schuyler, including her new mainstream teacher, feel like they know how best to teach her, since they know her and have been working with her for a few years now. But the fact remains that according to their own evaluations and their own observations, the way things have been done haven't been working. With all due respect to the skills and the hard work that have been brought to bear on Schuyler's education so far, I think it's clear that being an "expert" in Schuyler hasn't been enough, either from them or from us. Something has to change, and some kind of new approach is necessary.

And if we have to be red flag parents to make it happen, then we're okay with that. We've done it before.


Anonymous said...

That sinking feeling of knowing that a battle is looming is so horrible. She's in for a surprise and I hope it's one she learns from - and quickly. Strength to you and Julie and Schuyler in this latest development.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if you would like to come at the teacher from a completely different place for the next three to five encounters? Since she seems overwhelmed by your advocacy, step back and let her regain the self-confidence that her training and experience will be perfect in bringing out Schuyler's potential. I have found that teachers are rude when they feel intimidated, and some do come out of it when they are given positive feedback from even a 'red flag' parent. The biggest challenge is finding positive feedback, but every effort is worth a try. Good luck!

Karen said...

Oy! I'm a red-flag parent too. My husband and I try to temper that with a healthy dose of classroom volunteering and donations of crayons or paper or whatever the teacher says is needed. But even with that some teachers respond with a great deal of stress. But really, your story tops the charts. I can't imagine how disheartening that would be.

Sherry said...

I’m inclined to agree with the previous comment. I was going to mention the possibility that she feels intimidated as well. She may be a good teacher that just might make a difference with Schuyler. Fingers crossed! But she might be overwhelmed by how involved, educated and outspoken you and Julie are regarding your daughter’s challenges. Not all parents take as keen and active an interest, sadly. Parents like you and Julie challenge teachers to be on top of their game. I hope this teacher pleasantly surprises you.

Jeanine said...

I think pmwilson makes a good point in suggesting a slightly moderated approach. Odds are, she's pretty intimidated by you. If she's not, she's not paying attention. She also has 20-25 other students in her class whose parents haven't written books about their children, so she may also be very conscious of being equitable with her time and attention and not being overly solicitous of the "famous" parents. Maybe look to align your interests and get her on your side, rather than gearing up for battle so much.

Robert Hudson said...

That makes sense. My only issue with that theory is that to be honest, we didn't even get a chance to be intimidating. It felt like we were being snubbed very deliberately, from the first moment we walked in the door.

If we have in fact been "red flagged", even if it's just a result of teacher's lounge chattering (as I suspect it might be), then I'm not sure how to proceed.

I don't know. We'll see, I guess.

Robert Hudson said...

Well, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that we in no way played the "famous" card.

Jeanine said...

Dude, you don't have to play that sucker. It's there, regardless. Unfair, but the price of your oh-so-glamorous fame. Just ask Snooki.

Lucy said...

I'm responding as a teacher and also as a parent. All teachers are not alike. Some are definitely better/more competent/more enthusiastic than others.
When I've gotten a bad feeling about a teacher, I have never regretted requesting a move to a different classroom for my child. I have, however, regretted NOT moving my child. Schuyler will only have one fifth grade experience. If you really have a bad feeling (and other parents have had a bad experience) than maybe a switch is in order.

diviner said...

My parents had much the same problems with a lot of the teachers who taught my two younger brothers. I freely admit they had nothing like the issues you and Julie and Schuyler are facing ("only" dyslexia, and - as we found a LOT later - also Asperger's). But my parents did what I know you will do - they kept on at the schools to do what was needed - and they got what I am confident you will also get - the help the child needs.

Anonymous said...

I'm just one random reader that reads and enjoys the blog in general silence, but I have a problem this post. If the teacher is not stupid, she know where you blog and she knows that you are a somewhat-famous-at-this-point advocate.

It doesn't matter if you "don't play the famous card;" it just is. Something I see around me is that people start to hurt people with their power when they don't realize the power they have accumulated. This blog is a certain kind of power (I imagine she isn't somewhat famous in her field with her own public statement forum); maybe it shouldn't be used as a bludgeon until the more normal kinds of interactions are completed. In other words, posting about an ongoing interaction that isn't concluded *is* playing the famous card.

jtj said...

Well, she is probably aware if your book about Schuyler and aware of your unwavering devotion to helping her get what she needs. She may even read the blog. If I were her, I would be would be kinda nervous. You are a fancy pants author, after all ;-)

Nicole P said...

Huh? Posting about interactions is what blogging is about - whether people are "famous" or not - isn't it?

And expressing frustrations with a particularly challenging interaction, particularly when you are an advocate, gives every player in the situation a perspective. And every player outside of a situation - who's facing similar challenges - the reassurance that they're not alone and perhaps good advice about how to deal as the situation (and their situations) continue(s) to change and evolve.

I think you gave this teacher some credit, where it was due, Rob - and tried to provide some reasoning behind why she reacted as they did to you and Julie. And I think you fully intend to try to address her directly around this issue and the school-year and challenges you'll be facing.

I also think you have every right to feel frustrated. You have every right to put it up here on your blog, the same way you share most/all of your experiences with Schuyler. In fact, I think that using your "fame" to give other people a sense of place, belonging, and shared-experience is admirable.

Nicole P said...

And I'm fairly certain you would never use a line like "Do you know who I am??" I'm pretty sure that's what you meant by not playing the famous card... :P

Robert Hudson said...

Thank you, Nicole. That means the world to me.

I'll simply say this. If I were famous because I was an actor or a dotcom billionaire or the playboy heir to a cheese empire or whatever, then yeah, I'd feel hesitant to use my immense power to unfairly crush my tiny little foes. But the fact is that any so-called "fame" I might have has been achieved by doing exactly what I've done here. I've written about my experiences, people thought it was worth reading, and someone published my book accordingly.

This is what I do. This is what I contribute to the world. I don't recycle or wave signs at protests or sail rubber rafts into the paths of whalers. I write about my experiences as a disability parent, and in doing so attempt to address larger issues and maybe even give a voice to others in the same situation. And while I would never claim to do so without emotion or opinion, I do try to be fair. Not always polite, but fair nevertheless.

Jeanine said...

I didn't (and don't) mean to be glib or suggest you are using your fame like a club. But it does exist, and will color your interactions with the people in Schuyler's world from here on out.

Obviously, you have been a hugely positive force for pushing front-and-center the stories of kids struggling with all kinds of monsters.

But I do think, that your daughter may occasionally have to deal with some "blowback" from having a dad as visible and "famous" as you. Does it overshadow all the good you've done for others and the need to continue to be a vocal advocate for her? Not at all. Is it in any way fair that Schuyler may have to be troubled by your fancy pants-ness? Nope.

But maybe your first response to rough starts like the one you had this week should be "Hey, maybe she's a little overwhelmed" rather than "Hey, she's totally blowing me off."

Which is not to let the teacher off the hook for doing her job, but knowing what's going on with her can help you proceed more appropriately.

Linda said...

It's also possible that the teacher has terrible social skills. I am absolutely not ruling out the possibility that you were singled out for your advocacy, but turning to initiate a conversation with another parent after answering a question from you is probably exactly the kind of thing that would have made you feel more welcome if you'd been on the receiving end of the initiating of conversation.

It sounds horrible, but if it really is a "meet the teacher" hour (singular), and she has oodles of sets of parents, she may actually be circulating (thus winding up on the opposite side of the room from you) for innocent reasons and just not realizing how it's coming off, and if you combine this with general bad social skills (see: being short with Julie), it may come off as singling you out without actually meaning that she's refusing to engage.

It's not a defense of the teacher at all; her job in such an encounter is to put you at ease, and she didn't, and that's on her. I'm just saying -- I'd ask for a meeting and see if you can't make some progress, because she may be a general jerk as opposed to a specific jerk. Even if you wind up moving Schuyler (which might be worth it simply because you've lost confidence), it's worth knowing whether you're being singled out or not -- not because you should change your own response, but because if you are, the people she works for should be notified.

She may not resent your advocacy; she may just be wildly off-putting. So that would be awesome.

mooserbeans said...

My mom always said you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Hang tough and stay positive with the teachers. As a teacher I have a feeling you're right you've been red flagged after your IEP meeting. I am sorry about how the teacher chose to respond to you. I really feel that parents entrust us with their children and we owe it to them to care for them as they do (not to be trite). You guys have a fight ahead of you. Keep trying to be nice. I have a feeling the teacher is nervous, but also you are Schuyler's life long advocate. The school's hands may be tied as far as giving you what you want, but that doesn't mean you can't continue to ask and eventually you will be heard. Your aren't there to win friends, but to do the best for Schuyler. Most of my red flag parents are really just trying to do the best for their child. Good luck!

Julie said...

Thank you so much for what you do and for writing about it.

My son's problems are less severe than Schuyler's but I'm still in your boat, where 'back to school' does not feel like a relief.

Thank you for writing about this stuff and giving me the courage and confidence (and information) I need.

I am soooo not a 'red flag' person, but I guess I can learn how to be a 'red flag parent', for my boy.

PinkLAM said...

I hope, for Schuyler's sake, that your first impressions of the teacher were wrong. However, the idea certainly makes sense- a teacher, especially an inexperienced one, is more than likely to be intimidated by a knowledgeable parent who knows the laws.

Do you ever worry about Schuyler's teachers/professionals/anyone else reading your blog? (Namely, when you say not-so-great things about them?) Just curious.

Robert Hudson said...

I think about it from time to time, but I figure the best I can do is try to be fair, and hope that if they are reading, they might at least gain some insight from what I say, even when I'm upset. Maybe especially then.

J.A. said...

Well the teacher sounds like she isn't good with parents to begin with. Is it possible though that this teacher doesn't want "Meet the Teacher" event to involve conversations about a particular child's skills/needs?

I know that at my kids schools using the "meet the teacher" event for this purpose is frowned upon (though some teachers don't mind). While setting up for an event in the teachers lounge, I once overhear a teacher tell another that she can "Spot at 50 paces" the parents trying to "corner" her at this type of event. She said something like "You can see the hunger in their eyes. I just avoid them. I don't understand why they try to discuss their kid in front of 20 other parents instead of just setting up a private conference."

But if this was going on she should have made a little announcement (that's what this teacher did): "Welcome all, let me know if you have questions about the classroom or our planned activities. If you need to dicuss anything at all about your child, and feel that it shouldn't wait til our October conferences, just put your name and number in the book at the front and I will call you tomorrow and set up an early conference with you."

Daniela Goldstone said...


Your experience is unfortunately very familiar to me. I was very strongly involved with my daughter's education for her whole school career. Adopted from Romania and diagnosed as having mild mental retardation ( now intellectual disability) in kindergarten, I decided to fight for what she needed from the start. I had a very positive experience through elementary school. It was in middle school that things fell apart. Her special ed. teacher was new and I tried to start things off positively with her. It soon became obvious that she was totally incompetent. For 2 years it was pretty miserable (she finally got fired). Since we live in a small town, our only option to get away from the teacher was moving. The mainstream teachers were great so we focused on them.

I also wrote a book about my daughter that came out when she was 10. I think it was intimidating for some teachers, but mostly it made people respect me as her advocate. Fortunately, high school brought back incredible experiences for my daughter and helped her make up the ground she lost for those 2 horrible years. My older daughter is a middle school teacher so I know both perspectives. I always tried hard to stay positive with teachers and school administration, but they knew I would also fight hard if I needed to. I volunteered when I could. When teachers were superb I wrote positive letters to the school administration. I wrote an article out Daniela's great elementary experience in a national magazine. Those positive efforts always paid off when things went sour. We almost always got what we requested.

So try to start fresh with the teacher. Offer her your assistance (perhaps in a note). Offer her a signed copy of your book saying you look forward to a wonderful year working together. Then - if things continue to deteriorate, you know you tried and are justified to make waves! Good luck!

Christina Goldstone (

Daniela Goldstone said...

Part 1


Your experience is unfortunately very familiar to me. I was very strongly involved with my daughter's education for her whole school career. Adopted from Romania and diagnosed as having mild mental retardation ( now intellectual disability) in kindergarten, I decided to fight for what she needed from the start. I had a very positive experience through elementary school. It was in middle school that things fell apart. Her special ed. teacher was new and I tried to start things off positively with her. It soon became obvious that she was totally incompetent. For 2 years it was pretty miserable (she finally got fired). Since we live in a small town, our only option to get away from the teacher was moving. The mainstream teachers were great so we focused on them.

Christina Goldstone (

Daniela Goldstone said...

Part 2

I also wrote a book about my daughter that came out when she was 10. I think it was intimidating for some teachers, but mostly it made people respect me as her advocate. Fortunately, high school brought back incredible experiences for my daughter and helped her make up the ground she lost for those 2 horrible years. My older daughter is a middle school teacher so I know both perspectives. I always tried hard to stay positive with teachers and school administration, but they knew I would also fight hard if I needed to. I volunteered when I could. When teachers were superb I wrote positive letters to the school administration. I wrote an article out Daniela's great elementary experience in a national magazine. Those positive efforts always paid off when things went sour. We almost always got what we requested.

So try to start fresh with the teacher. Offer her your assistance (perhaps in a note). Offer her a signed copy of your book saying you look forward to a wonderful year working together. Then - if things continue to deteriorate, you know you tried and are justified to make waves! Good luck!

Christina Goldstone

Becky Burdine said...

Ugh. I get that maybe the teacher might have been wary or defensive, but I honestly think she needs to give Rob and Julie the benefit of the doubt.

I feel like I always approach my daughter's team with my tail down and wagging, with lots of assurances that they are the experts and I want to help, and they STILL treat me like I am about to rip their heads off half the time.

So the upshot is I am a red flag parent before I even open my mouth, and my daughter isn't getting the attention she deserves.

Sometimes it feels like you can't get the tiniest bit ahead because everyone is trying to push you backwards.

Good luck Rob. I'm right there with you.

Becky Burdine said...

You know, I get that the teacher might have been wary, but I think she, and others, need to give us parents the benefit of the doubt.

I really try to approach my daughter's team with a tail down and wagging and a "you are the expert let me support you attitude", and they still act as if I am a live stick of dynamite.

I don't like being treated like a red flag parent before I even open my mouth. I get that there are difficult people to deal with, and I get that maybe they don't like being told to work harder and do better. But this is my life from here on out. I have to push for my daughter because she can't. And it would be helpful to have some support instead of constant push back.

Good luck Rob. I am hoping she turns out to be great and was having some crazy issue that night.

Becky Burdine said...

Sorry I didn't mean to post twice! I thought the computer ate the first one!

Michelle said...

Regardless of what the topic was that you had to discuss with the teacher (Schuyler) she never should have been rude to ANY parent. Good grief - teachers that act like they are the all knowing, higher than high and have a chip on their shoulder don't belong in the classroom any more than a trained monkey does. Parents should be co-teachers - not placed on the outside to be dubbed as "morons". Good luck. I hope you really make this woman see the error of her ways...and I hope she's reading your blog and all the comments on here so she can see that the majority think she was completely off base and inappropriate to behave that way.

Shawna said...

You DON'T RECYCLE!?! That's it, I'm never reading your blog again.


Anonymous said...

I teach at a school in a wealthy suburb of New York City. There are some famous (actual famous) parents, and some blogging-famous parents. The only parents I ever inhibit myself with - or even avoid - are the parent-bloggers. All too often I have seen some small snippet of the behavior of me or a fellow teacher broadcast, utterly devoid of its context, on the Internet. Almost always, no names are formally attached. And almost always, the teacher is completely identifiable by parents in the school. We didn't sign up for this, and I can tell you I hate feeling that every little mistake I make will be magnified and publicized. (Especially when those "mistakes" involve appropriately dealing with some aspect of someone's super-special precious child that the parent cannot recognize. Not saying you're in this category, but I am shocked at how unable some parents are to even entertain the possibility that their kid may have misbehaved or isn't the top student in the class.)

Did the teacher make things worse? Yes. If she is wary of having the worst possible interpretation of her behavior put online, did you make things worse? Yes. Should you set up a one-on-one meeting with her and try to approach her with some compassion for her job and her situation? Absolutely? ("It's not MY job to show compassion for HER!" Of course it isn't, other than as a human being. But your job IS to work with her for Schulyer, and I promise you that will go more smoothly if you take a bit of time to understand her perspective and yes, even give her the benefit of the doubt.)

Robert Hudson said...

I understand what you're saying, but I'm not sure I agree with it. I've taught enough in the past and know enough teachers now to understand how the red flagging works, and that it mostly takes place in the teachers' lounge and at the water cooler and out in the parking lot at the end of the day. I know, as do most special needs parents, that among many mainstream teachers, there is a special resentment reserved for our kids and for us. Our kids make your jobs harder, and our expectations even more so.

I guarantee that no matter how ganged up on you may feel by blogging parents, it will never ever compare with how alone we feel when we walk into that school, especially once the red flagging begins.

Also, you really lost me at two points. As much as I enjoy a little sarcasm now and again, your little dig at parents and their "super-special precious child" is exactly the sort of remark that makes me think that perhaps you should be looking for another line of work. For the record, like every other special needs parents, we do actually have a super special precious kid. And like many special needs parents, I would step in front of a bus or into a volcano if I could make it otherwise.

And when you say that you didn't sign on for this (except as Julie just pointed out to me, you kind of did), all I can say is "Welcome to my motherfucking world."

Anon said...

For what it's worth, here's another two cents: Unlike Anonymous at 4:01 AM, I don't think Schuyler's new teacher deserves the benefit of the doubt. The kind of rudeness you describe is clear evidence of red-flagging, and, well, just plain unacceptable rudeness. Not OK, by any stretch, or for any reason.

And the blogging/intimidation link? I don't buy that either. I think red-flagging is the issue here, and that it accounts more-than-adequately for any "intimidation" here.

Your corner of Texas isn't NYC, or full of blog-reading self-obsessed, celebrity-imbued elites who are trying to hold on to fragile ordinary identities amongst the rich and famous. The local limits of your "blog fame" are finite, and you're not naming names in cyberspace. Only a handful of people know those who actually interact with Schulyer.

Particularly in Schuyler's case, were I her teacher, I'd regard the book and the blog itself as a gold mine of information -- information not usually available to a teacher -- that would be a huge asset in figuring out how best I could meet her needs.

And yes, I'd be reading it, even though there are 20 other students in the class. Knowledge is power; as a teacher, presumably I'd be the first to embrace that concept.

All that said, I think you made a rather serious misstep yourself, Rob. A one-hour meet-and-greet for the whole class (or, rather, for the parents of the whole class) doesn't seem to me to be an appropriate time or place for discussing ANY child's specific needs.

Everyone needs privacy when starting that particular dance, but, more importantly, how on earth could Schuyler's teacher be in any way as attentive as you need her to be if she's interacting for the first time with a large group of new parents?

I think playing it cool at the meet and greet, getting a look at how the teacher interacts with others, shaking hands and leaving, would have been far more productive -- followed up with a phone call and a request for a one-on-one to look specifically at Schuyler's situation.

If this teacher is who she appears to be (inexperienced, inflexible, unprepared -- she couldn't figure out that muttering something reassuring and asking you to call was the right approach??? she's the alleged professional here) you're going to have (as ever) your work cut out for you.

That sucks, hugely. But you CAN do it, and you will. You and Julie are the experts on Schuyler; everyone else is just guessing. If this teacher has any kind of a heart, you can get to her head with care and persistence.

You've earned your red flag with genuine advocacy, not because you believe your "super-special precious child" (WTF???) walks on water. Take it into battle with pride -- but do chose your moment carefully.

Robert Hudson said...

I think you're probably right about us pushing it at this meeting. The feeling that we're running out of time hangs over us constantly, and it probably causes us to move faster than we should. I'd love to say that's going to change, but I don't know. The whiff of panic is pretty strong in the air around here, and has been for some time.

Anyway, thanks for your comment, it was very helpful.

BlackOrchid said...

I have no advice to offer; just support via the ether if that's okay.

Suzanne said...

I've been following this post and the reactions to it with interest. I've been pretty lucky with teachers over the years, but I've had a few moments like those you describe (my daughter has fairly low functioning autism and retardation). I think usually your impressions mean a lot---I would guess the teacher might be hard to work with, and not particularly friendly. However, it's possible the setting had a lot to do with the problem, and it might possibly have had nothing to do with you or Schuyler. One of the best teachers I've ever worked with acted much as your teacher did at a meet and greet. I think she was being very careful to give all parents equal time, and to avoid getting into any conversations, and she was someone more at ease working with children than adults, and it all came across as rude. I left feeling very upset. I don't like the whole meet and greet concept. Like a lot of inclusion type activities, it can leave the special needs parent feeling not totally served. My solution has been to avoid attending them, which is far from ideal, but I'm an avoider! Best wishes for a good school year, one way or another!

Niksmom said...

We're already red-flagged, too. Even got a snotty "Oh yes, I got the book you sent" from the teacher when I asked if she received the two and half page doc I sent to help her with my kid.

No offense intended at're not famous outside of certain literary and special needs parents circles (well, ok, and PRC) kid's therapists have never heard of you or your book. THEIR LOSS. My point is, for anyone to accuse you of playing the celebrity card is ridiculous.

Also, FWIW, re-reading your post about the school eval...I hope you have asked for an IEE. Any psychologist or professional that goes into an evaluation already assuming they know the outcome is going to be prejudicial. It's so easy to find the supporting evidence for the expected outcome. I would contest the actual evaluation's validity on the grounds of intentional bias.

I hope you leave thsi post up for others to read and know they're not alone. And, frankly, for teachers to understand that their unapproachableness (for whatever reason) taints the well. If ti truly is, as some suggested, a case of preferring parents make appointments, plan your orientation spiel accordingly.

Anonymous said...

Don't wait for any actual trouble. You can tell she's hostile from your initial encounter so you need to go directly to the school superintendent and start complaining vociferously about her. That will make her aware that you won't take any guff, and from then on she'll give you the respect you deserve and devote the lion's share of her attention to teaching Schuyler.
Either that or Ms. Teacher will really, really hate you and take out her revenge on your daughter, alternately ignoring her and making her the butt of classroom bullying.

Robert Hudson said...

Time elapsed between enabling anonymous comments and regretting it: about six hours.

That's not even close to the record. Sorry.

J.A. said...

Rob. I totally understand that feeling of panic and I have neuro and otherwise typical kids who have had an issue or two come up. So I can only imagine how you feel. All you can do is learn from this experience to plan to always set up a meeting with Schuyler's teachers right at the begining of the year. That way you know you have the meeting planned and you won't feel as panicky at the big meet and greet. At least this worked for me. I hope Schyler has a wonderful start to her school year and that any "red flagging" does not get in the way of her having an enriching year.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the Anon comment...I used to work at this school and we were specifically told that Meet the Teacher nights and Open House nights were not to be used for discussing students needs and parent or teacher concerns. Meet the Teacher was to bring in supplies, let the students see where they would be for the next 180 days, and shake the teachers hand. We are told as teachers to tell parents that we would be glad to meet with them and discuss any concerns they have during our conference period, after school,etc. Given that the teacher gave off the air of rudeness, she obviously seems as if she might have felt like she would be backed into a corner and has no clue how to handle these kinds of situations. Just a thought...hope it helps.

Anonymous said...

Brushing past all the opinions... I just came out of an ARD where I was the parent who wouldn't sign. (red flags everywhere..) And though I don't have a shred of advice, it was so good to read your post. Helped me to be ready for the next step.
Thank you.

Mad 'n Hairy said...

This post just reminds me, once again, why we homeschool our two "special needs" sons. It was an abusive teacher that originally set us on this path, and I can almost thank her for it, considering how well it's turned out.

That being said, hang tough. No teacher knows what is best for your child, not even one who has worked with her in the past. In the end, a teacher with 20 or more students at that grade level is little more than a wrangler. I know I'm going to get some flak for saying so, but, after too many bad experiences with worse teachers, I stand behind the claim.

MDS said...

I'm a special education teacher (there, I said it), and I've had "red flag parents" before. In fact, my district said they gave me a student for the summer program because of my experience with high-profile parents. My read on that is that somewhere, someone thinks I'm good at working with them. I think they probably have more confidence in me than I do. My face is horribly readable (so no I won't be playing poker with you), which makes meetings interesting.
Although I try very hard to be approachable and open when first meeting a parent, I know I'm not always very successful. A lot of this is me: I tend to be nervous when I first meet somebody because of a physical disability of my own. I don't want a parent thinking I can't teach their child because of how I look... which has happened. It doesn't sound like that is what happened here, but I wonder who has been whispering (or yelling!) in that teacher's ear. I certainly get information from various school sources before I meet a parent, and its not always accurate. We base our attitudes on perception, and lots of things color our perceptions. The problem is that once a person has the perception of us, its very hard to change. I've been learning that lesson over and over (it doesn't seem to stick, for some reason!).
Maybe, as a lot of the others have suggested, volunteering in the school or room, if the teacher is open to you being in the room, works.
I definitely would not take the stance another poster suggested and complain loudly to the school superintendent. I've had that done, very recently, by a parent. As much as I hate to admit it, her constant complaints about how horrible a case manager I am have not made me very willing to work with her. And, really, the rest of the parents of my students seemed pretty happy with me last year. I teach students who are on the autism spectrum, usually those with Asperger's, so the parents of the students I work with are very informed, very aware, and not afraid to ask for things for their children. In this case, the parent refused to speak to me, didn't share her concerns with either our building principal or my supervising principal. She went right to the central office. The parent wasn't at all interested in keeping me in the loop once she made that first complaint, so then there were lots of others because I didn't know what was going on. I'm not looking forward to having her child on my case load again this year. I can't even begin to think of how to repair this problem... and I've talked with several parents of students with special needs that I really respect. So, that avenue probably isn't a good one to follow.