Tag Archives: Students

What constitutes a bad teacher? Should he/she be fired?

For years I volunteered up to or more than three times a week in my children’s elementary school. I volunteered in each child’s class so I would be aware of what they were being taught since they attended a French Immersion school.

When the eldest was in kindergarten, her teacher noted she had problems pronouncing certain letters of the alphabet and would benefit from speech therapy. We were to close so we didn’t notice the problem; the eldest was given speech therapy while in school. Middle child did not pick up the speech impediment, but the teenage boy did and by that time, the waiting list for speech therapy was well over a year-long. We were lucky that I was working part-time so my income went to pay for a private speech therapist. Middle child was having other difficulties which we blamed on learning two languages so she was given extra help in the Learning Resource centre.

By the time Middle child was in grade six, she was still going to the Learning Resource centre for assistance, but now there were other problems. She was coming home from school and telling us that her teacher was not giving her any work to complete, so all she was doing in the resource room was helping in the younger kids with their work. Writing this part just makes me cry, even though it has been years since it occurred. I met with her teacher, who denied this and said my child was lying, but middle child continued to complain about not be given any work and now she was hating going to school.

Since I volunteered at the school in both the classroom and was an active Parent Council member, I was on very good terms with the Principal. I discussed this matter with her and it was decided a meeting with the teacher, the learning resource teacher, and a board representative was necessary. During the meeting I continually asked the teacher what work she was giving middle child and was it true, that in fact she was not giving her any assignments at all? (Not a peep was heard from the Learning Resource teacher during this time). The Principal asked the teacher to produce the assignments she was supposedly giving middle child. It was then that the teacher admitted, “No, I haven’t been giving her any assignments to do in the Learning Resource Centre”. Assignments middle child needed if she wanted to be graded on and receive a mark on her report card. There were no marks to be had though. At this point, the Principal immediately stood up, and ended the meeting. I had won a first of many battles for middle child!

Result: middle child was sent home with umpteen number of assignments to complete, but as far as I know, there was no punishment given to the teacher and since she was the only grade six teacher, middle child remained in her class. After grade six, we pulled middle child out of French Immersion and enrolled her in an English school. Her grade seven teacher was beyond marvelous! We met with him, explaining the issues and how we were putting her in an out of school program to bring her up to grade level (she was two levels behind). Middle child hated reading and writing. Again, it was lucky I worked part-time, because when we enrolled her in a private program to bring her reading up to grade level, it literally cost a fortune. She hated going, but once she got there, the teachers were fabulous at making reading fun, teaching her how to correctly pronounce words, spell and write stories. It took over six months, but the extra work paid off, middle child was reading and writing at a grade level above her class and now enjoyed the work.

(Note: Middle child had been on the waiting list for years for a reading and writing assessment through the school board. It wasn’t until grade ten, that we borrowed money to have an assessment done, since the assessment through the school board wasn’t going to happen for a very long time. The assessment was necessary for her to continue to receive extra help through the high school and it would also be necessary for when she applied to University. The private assessment, by a licensed Psychologist, was pages and pages long, outlined her learning disabilities, one being dyslexia.) No wonder she hated reading and writing!

Questions still remain:

Why wasn’t the teacher disciplined or if she/he was, why wasn’t I, the parent informed?
Why wasn’t this teacher fired for incompetence?
Why didn’t the Learning Resource teacher ask why student wasn’t being given work to do?
Why are assessments for Learning Disability such a low priority in our Education System?

There are good teachers and there are bad teachers, just like in any profession, good and bad employees. Rarely do you hear of a teacher being fired for incompetence and I believe in some circumstances, they should be, just like in any other job, incompetence should not be tolerated. Retraining, I agree with this, but in the case I have described where the teacher just didn’t bother to give middle child assignments, the teacher should have been fired. How many other students has this happened to and will happen to?

A school trip, written years ago by middle child

The other day, while my husband was cleaning up the kids rooms, he came across an essay written by middle child, when she was in high school. We used to save all of the kids stuff when they were in grade school, but it just became overwhelming. Thus when they entered high school, we would read whatever they gave us, but most of the time, it was tossed in the recycling bin. So I always find it fascinating to find something written/drawn years ago. With her permission, I am reprinting it here, because I loved reading her perspective of a school trip.

Ragged Lake

On Friday, September 26th, my outdoor education class went on a camping trip to Algonquin Provincial Park. I had woken up at 5:30 a.m. to eat my breakfast and left at 6:00 a.m. I got out of my mother’s car after saying my goodbyes and slowly walked to the freezing and tired looking group of teenagers. We waited and waited for Mr. B. and the yellow bus to start us on our great adventure to the bush. A couple of minutes later the mustard yellow school bus drove into the parking lot, we loaded our gear and headed for the seats. We were finally on the road, life is a highway played in the background as we sat and watched the cars beside us drive past. Mr. B. called out everyone’s names, making sure we were actually on the bus.

The bus ride was long and dreadful but I held on, I could hear the laughter and cheers of the other girls and boys clapping, singing and dancing to their favourite songs. I just wanted to close my eyes and drift away in total silence. An hour into the trip we were all awakened by Mr. B. saying “it’s time” and then he handed out papers to us. “We are playing wink murder; wink at the person on your sheet but let no one see you do it.” Luckily for me, the person I had to kill was sitting right next to me. I turned my face and said Stuart, he looked straight at me and I opened and closed my left eye “ON NO” he yelled, you’re a liar. I showed him my sheet and just like looking at me he was dead, in 30 seconds I had killed the first person on my list.

We were about five minutes to our lunch stop when all of a sudden we heard a big bang! The noise was dreadful, big thumps and bangs rattled the school bus. We thought we had killed an animal, some said it sound like a deer, snake or giant octopus. In the end we agreed that the giant octopus popped our tire. We pulled into McDonald’s with our popped tire and waited two long excruciating hours. I walked into the McDonald’s and ordered a giant Oreo Mcflurry, it was so tasty it just ate all my feelings away. I ate and ate, every 15 minutes because when you’re stuck at McDonald’s for two hours all you do is make ‘sugar mountains’ and eat. The mustard cheese bus was finally ready and we still had two hours left to travel. I slept most of the way so I cannot tell you what occurred in those 120 minutes.

When we arrived at Smoke Lake we loaded our canoes and headed off in the deep freezing cold water. We paddled and paddled until I wanted to kill everyone around me. When we came to our first portage I decided to impress all of the guys by carrying the canoe uphill through the woods. I did this for the next four portages; I paddled and carried, paddled and carried like every other student. We got to our campsite, set up a tent, and had some nasty chicken dogs and Pop Tarts then fell asleep.

The next morning we decided to eat Pop Tarts, pre-cooked bacon and eggs. They were the crappiest tasting eggs I have ever eaten. For the rest of the day, we paddled and portaged, paddled and portaged, through forests, through rocks and marshes and finally paddled some more. I believe by this time my canoe was last, I pretty much didn’t care because my arms hurt and nothing would get me to go any faster.

We pitched our tents all in a row then headed to the camp fire. We played games until our stomachs ached from laughing and we played hide and seek until you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face. I was exhausted and freezing but what was even more hilarious was when the rain came down splashing in our tent, “a hole! Our tent is leaking” I screamed at the top of my lungs, we decided that we’d have to switch tents. I ended up moving into a one-person tent that I would have to share with three other people, we were squashed but we were warm. In the middle of the night our tent ripped, soaking our sleeping bags and making me almost catch pneumonia. I knocked on our teacher’s tent and asked if I could bunk with them, they agreed and I fell asleep in wet clothes. The next morning the other girls and I couldn’t feel our feet and hands because we were so cold from last night’s rain and then realized we had to paddle home. We were super tired and paddling with numb hands sucks.

We were almost at our goal; home was so close yet so far. I could see the dock from afar, and dreamed of the long warm bus ride ahead. When we finally arrived at the docks, the group and I carried our equipment to the bus. The bus was warm as anticipated, our adventure was almost over; we were almost home. We sang and danced to our favourite songs during the bus ride. I slept and dreamed. I dreamed about how it doesn’t matter what sex, race or who you hang out with, it (the trip) can bring any group of people together. I learned so much more about myself, and how to overcome my fears, I hold this experience close to my heart and wish that this opportunity comes again. 

By middle child 

Note: For the camping trip, students are divided into groups and are responsible for putting together the gear they need plus the food they will eat, thus the nasty eggs, pop tarts, and pre-cooked bacon.

Note 2: For years we have been taking our children into the backcountry of Algonquin because of the beauty and my love of canoeing. They have learned to canoe for hours, portage when they were exhausted from canoeing in the hot sun or the downpour of rain. They have seen amazing wildlife, everything from extremely large snapping turtles, to red-tailed deer and moose.

A family portrait June 16 2005 taken at Ragged Lake

A family portrait June 16 2005 taken at Ragged Lake

Groceries vs a puppy

Like many students out there, my daughter survives on OSAP (Ontario Student Assistance Program) to go to university. Learning to deal with finances is quite difficult for some students, they are away from home for the first time and all of a sudden they have numerous bills to pay. If living on campus in residence, finances are somewhat easier to deal with, especially if you check off the box that says OSAP will pay your tuition and residence fees directly to the college/university. This also holds true if you are living off campus, tuition will be paid automatically to the school, but you are then left with a large sum to budget for rent, food, hydro, heat, internet, etc., and it is never enough to live on. When my eldest first lived off campus, she basically starved because there was barely enough money for food after bills were paid. She budgeted extremely well, but was only left with roughly seven dollars a day for food. She did not have a lot of fresh produce in her fridge. 

Now when middle child rented her first apartment, things did not go as smoothly because as she is aware, she has a problem with spending and thus her money did not last the five months before the next instalment of OSAP. During the second term, mom was given control of her money and things went far smoother, though the last couple of months were difficult and mom had to dig deep in her own pockets to give middle child money for food. There were continually phone calls that she was starving and needed $50 for food. On one such occasion, she begged and begged, crying that she had no food until I finally broke and deposited money into her back account.

Well, a few weeks went by, and lo and behold, what did mom find out? Middle child had used the grocery money to buy a puppy off of Kijiji. Granted she saved ‘Bear’ from a horrible life but really a dog when you are a struggling student? After her father and I got over the initial anger because she rationalized the hell out of her decision to get a puppy, we accepted the fact that a dog would make her happier, since she suffered from depression and was very far from home, but alas, we had another mouth to feed.

Bear