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?