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Thread: What to do? - gossipy and competitive literacy parent helper

  1. #1

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    Default What to do? - gossipy and competitive literacy parent helper

    OK, I am in a real quandry over this. Last night when I asked Lindsay what they did at school yesterday, he told me that during literacy he had to go with a parent volunteer and read some word lists. Now this is something that they do quite regularly with the literacy program and I'm not worried about this, but the particular parent that Lindsay had yesterday is what I'm not comfortable with.

    She is on the fringes of my social circle (friend of a friend sort of thing) and is extremely competitive with her son (who is in the year below Lindsay) and is also a huge gossip. When her son started school last year she volunteered in the classroom so she would know exactly where each child was academically and she would tell everyone who was struggling and who 'in her opinion' needed remedial classes. She also used what she learnt about each student so she could push her own son to 'beat' them.

    I'm not bothered with Lindsay's performance at school, he is in the top groups for both maths and literacy/spelling/english but what I'm bothered with is this person *knowing* where he is at and possibly using it to her advantage or to simply gossip about as he told me he got a few words wrong (pronunciation) and she said that, and this is exactly what his words were "oh, you should know those words, cant you do better than that?" On the second go he got the words right, but I'm really quite concerned as I seriously wouldn't put it past her to say something to his teachers about it and possibly give her opinions on the matter and try to make him look bad.

    I dont know if I should meet with his literacy teacher and say that I don't like this person and voice what my concerns are or if I should just leave it be. I'm quite sickened at the thought that she could be that competitive that she would be doing this only to give her son the advantage over other children as she is always saying how smart he is, and he probably is, but its just not sitting right with me.

    So what do you think I should do, and what would you do in this situation?


  2. #2

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    Sherie I would definately speak to the literacy co-ordinator about your concerns. I do not think they are something that should just be brushed off and chances are the teachers may already be aware of what this person is like anyway and this may give them a chance to talk to her about confidentiality etc. We have a number of parent helpers around the school and some are better than others but they all get some some of basic training of how to deal with the children (her comment to Lindsay was totally inappropriate IMO) and also to keep anything that they find out in class or with the students confidential.

    I think if you are honest and outline your concerns like you have here, then the co-ordinator will hopefully take it on board and do something about it. If she does brush you off and nothing seems to have been said or done, I would make a further appointment with the principal. It may seem minor, but kids should be nutured and encouraged at school and if she is using this time firstly to almost belittle some kids and pump up her own ego - she should't be there in the first place.

    Sorry for the bit of a vent but we have a number of issues with parents at our school and it is something I feel quite strongly about!

  3. #3

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    I would be looking to keep the "personal" elements out if it and your fears of her "making your son look bad" and approaching it from a perspective of her approach to Lindsay during the session and her comments to him and how these affected him negatively and whether or not this is considered appropriate and your fears of a lack of confidentiallity due to previous happenings and try and get a feel for the teachers perspective on how she deals with this woman and the approach this woman is supposed to be taking with the children.

    This takes the personal element out of it whilst still possibly giving you an opening on the teachers perspective of this woman and whether or not her "involvement" is going to be treated as more than it should and that is someone marking off a literacy sheet for a child and passing the results back to the teacher - but as Tanstar said if you do feel after your initial discussion that the teacher has no idea or concern for what is going on then take it too the next level

    hope this makes some sense.
    Last edited by jaspen; February 28th, 2008 at 08:54 AM.

  4. #4

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    I would say something to the teacher. My little brother, year 2 this year, had a similar incident last year with a parent reader, who really made him feel bad that he wasn't up there with the rest of the kids (he has an eye condition and has drops which means he can only read from one eye, and it really upset him that he was made to feel dumb when it was just that he had trouble seeing the words...), so mum went down to the school and talked to his teacher and got him changed to a different parent reader, and that made a huge different to his confidence. Not a great deal of difference to his reading, but his confidence was raelly shattered down more and more each time he had a session with this particular parent.

    So, yes, I would talk to the teacher, and see if its possible to change parent readers. But try and put the focus on your son and why he would be better with someone else, and less on that the parent is a competitive gossip, or the teacher might just see this as a clash between parents, and not as detrimental to your son.

    Oh, and I wouldn't worry too much that this parent might make your son look bad, as teachers are pretty clever and would know exactly where each child is at, and make her own assessment based on what she sees rather than what she's told by this parent.

    HTH :hugs:

  5. #5

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    Sherie, could you talk to the school about it? Particularly if she is using such negative techniques in the way that she helps the children - telling a child that they should be able to 'do better' in the way she has is not conducive to improvement or to increased self confidence.

    I personally wouldn't worry too much about her gossip - just ignore it - she will quickly gain a reputation for what she does, but I would be very concerned at the teaching methods she is employing (even as a 'helper') and would raise it with the school.

    Good luck!
    Last edited by suse; February 28th, 2008 at 08:55 AM. Reason: spelling

  6. #6

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    How terrible for Lindsay! He is at an age where things like that can sause huge problems. I would be down there to the school quick smart telling the teacher what was said and how you think it is inappropriate and unconstructive and possible quite detrimental to his self esteem and learning.

    I don't think that you should mention that she may have less than altruistic reasons for volunteering but I think that you could definately say that you would rather that she didn't have one on one contact with Lindsay. I would probly mention that you had heard her repeating things that you would have considered confidential outside school and you didn't think that that was appropriate behaviour and suggest that maybe the Head should remind her of her responsibilities and a volunteer within the school.

    If there isn't one maybe you could suggest that the school formulate a code of conduct for volunteers. (And if there is one make sure that someone gets her a copy with appropriate highlighting!)

    It might just be me but is it a bit strange that she is doing reading with a class that her kid isn't in. In all my experience parents assist with their own kid's class not other ones.

  7. #7

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    Thanks for your advice. I wouldnt' say exactly what I said here - I loathe gossips like her and there is no way to say it that didn't sound like I was gossiping, so yeah, I definately would have needed to approach it from a different angle. I think it still operates on a rotating roster for parent help, so hopefully he wouldn't have her all the time unless they have changed it since last year. His literacy teacher is great, she's new to the school, but one of those teachers who just *knows* what everyone is like kwim? So Alisia, you're pretty right about that.

    So thanks again, you've given me some great ideas on how to approach it.

    ETA - *snap* Taffy. Thanks hun. It would appear unusual the way they do it, but they just call for volunteers and because there is only 1/2 composite classes you get a mix of both classes mums.
    Last edited by Trillian; February 28th, 2008 at 09:06 AM.

  8. #8

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    Oh Sherie, what an awful position to be in for you and Lindsay. I would try not to worry about her gossiping (easier said than done) because I am sure the other parents have wised up to her antics.
    I agree about talking to the teacher about being concerned about how inappropriate her comments are to the kids and how demoralising they can be to young and impressionable minds who need to be nutured and guided; not stomped on. Just because she is a parent doesn't mean she is fit to guide other children with their literacy (or anything else). It may be that the teacher is unaware of her comments and behavior but if it isn't raised, they can't act on it. Even if it is just a chat to her to remind her about what is and isn't appropriate and what the ethos of the school is.

    Anyway, HTH and good luck!

    MG

  9. #9

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    This is why we teachers often get concerned about parent helpers! Sadly there are some mums who help for devious reasons of their own and it makes it very difficult. I try to let my helpers only help with the children of the same ability as their child as they can't say too much then!

  10. #10

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    Hey there, I haven't read all the other responses, but I'm a teacher myself, and being a Kinder teacher have experienced the whole competitive parent thing (only a few people, but such a shame - affects the kids mostly & stresses the teachers who are already working hard). I would imagine the teacher should have an idea of what that parent is like already, but I still think you should say something to them. Just let them know that you're worried about effect on Lindsay, and how the knowledge may be used. If the teacher doesn't know about the parent already, they need to. If you raise it from your perspective, they should be able to read between the lines & reconsider how they use that parent. If not, at least you could ask that thye have nothing to do with your son which is fair enough.
    any parents in our school had to sign a 'privacy/confidentiality agreement' - they're actually breaking the law by gossiping about a child's ability or progress because of privacy legislation. You may (non-confrontationally) be able to ask about whether those exist at your child's school.

    Hope this is helpful. Good luck! And just remember, they're only like that, because ultimately they're way insecure.
    PS. If you want it, PM me & I'll send you a draft of our privacy agreement if you want an example to take to the school if they don't have one.
    PPS. It definitely is worth saying something about, because if they're unaware of this person, then they'll know in future & it will help other kids. Also, don't worry about her opinions reflecting on your son. Teachers use lots of strategies to assess, & lots of gut instinct (usually spot on) & it sounds like this teacher is strong on that
    Last edited by Jus; June 5th, 2008 at 08:07 PM. Reason: forgot something & something else

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