October 3, 2018 at 6:58 pm #100824
My son is in 5th grade, in a small sized classroom. They send home a notebook that we have started to refer to as “the burn book”, because the only thing that is ever written in there, are bad things. When he has a good day, or a great day, or even just an ok day- no report. No “great job today!”
It seems very pre-school, and I am just wondering if anyone else still gets these daily reports for their 5th graders? Some of the comments and complaints are really ridiculous.. “he had trouble focusing..”. I want to reply “Um, no shit! He has ADHD, ASD and anxiety. You don’t allow him any fidget toys, and even ask him to stop fidgeting with his fingers while trying to listen to a story in the library!” Maybe because this has been on going for so many years, I’m just feeling over it at this point. Maybe I’m disillusioned by the fact that he finally has a new teacher with a masters in special education and I thought SHE might get it, and doesn’t seem to. I don’t know. I’m just worn out by this school year already, and we haven’t even gotten through the first quarter. He doesn’t have anger issues, he doesn’t have bad behavior- like fighting with other kids, his “behavior problems” tend to be things like “not paying attention”, and “arguing with teachers”. But most of that is easily explained by his need for follow through- one teacher telling him he can do something, then another says “you can’t do that!” So he’s confused by these mixed messages. When he questions them, for clarification, they call it arguing. We’ve heard for the last several years, how they want to see him become more independent, and making more of his own decisions, not relying on others, etc., but when he questions things- they call it arguing. I have stopped replying in the “burn book”, because I feel like it’s a big waste of time and energy. I don’t defend him on things that I know he can control- and if he’s being a brat- I let him know it. But– pick your battles! You can not expect a child with ADHD and ASD to always be “on”, to not have trouble focusing, and to be able to sit perfectly still while listening to a story. He was very interested in that book, by the way- and said as much. He also said, “I’m just a fidgety kid! I was just moving my thumbs while I listened so I could sit still.” Sorry- this turned into more of a getting things off my chest rant. I am really interested though, to see if anyone else still gets these report notebooks on a daily basis for their older elementary kids.
October 10, 2018 at 9:39 am #101208
This level of negativity is sure to harm his already fragile self-esteem. I’d request that it be changed for him, to goals with only positive acknowledgements when meeting the goals, and nothing when not. 1-2 goals only. And they have to be VERY clearly defined and VERY concrete — no interpretation required. This works best for kids with ADHD/autism.
Also, what they are labeling as “argumentative” is part of autism and seeing things very literal and black-and-white. He only sees one way at a given time, so will “argue” to that understanding from all.
ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Trainer & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism
October 15, 2018 at 8:35 am #101485
I completely understand your frustrations. Just curious, is your son on an IEP or 504 Plan?? It sounds as though the staff may need some education on ADHD. As a mother of boys with ADHD and Family Nurse Practitioner who works full time as a school nurse, I find ADDitude’s emails and articles so resourceful and often times forward along to staff to better their understanding of this condition and how it presents in the classroom. All students can benefit from executive function skills and all staff (in my opinion) can be better educated on this condition as it affects the child every step of the way in each grade. I would encourage you to speak with the school, either guidance, his case manager if applicable or even the Special Ed Director. Good luck.
October 15, 2018 at 9:42 am #101489
My son is in fourth grade and we have the exact same issues. It’s never positive things; only negative. And it becomes very frustrating and draining. I dont tell my son what is in the book anymore. I talk to him about the things that need to be talked about, and the other stuff I just initial to acknowledge that I’ve seen it.
Reading your post is like reading about my own life. I’ve heard the exact same thing from teachers, EAs and other staff. “he won’t focus”
Um…..ya..I don’t doubt that. Our son is diagnosed ASD, ADHD and ODD. So we do have a different complexity to anger outbursts and defiance. But as a parent it would be wonderful to read some good things amidst all the negative and frustrating things we deal with daily.
“Good job!” Or “Was able to stay focused for a whole job!” Those little things not only make our children feel better, but helps validate all the hard work and heart we put into parenting a child with special needs.
You’re not alone Momma!
October 15, 2018 at 12:29 pm #101505
I can so completely relate with you.I have two boys with ADHD. They are in 5th and 6th grade. The youngest has some additional issues and has an IEP. The oldest should have had at least a 504 years ago and we are in the process of getting him one.
They recently switched to a STEM school which requires the boys to be organized and on top of homework. Needless to say, that is not their strong suit. I have been going out of my mind (literally) trying to get them caught up. I am literally spending 15-20 hours a week dealing with these microcomplaints, trying to help them organize, trying to help them get homework done, etc.
After having a semi-nervous breakdown last week, I am now setting boundaries around school. School will get 1/2 hour per day per kid. Period. That means no time to respond to nitpicky teacher complaints. I don’t know what these ridiculous teachers expect us to do. THEY are the ones that are there and they need to hand out the consequences. Quit trying to put it back on me. We have done EVERYTHING imaginable to help. At some point, the teachers need to take responsibility and help these kids.
Sorry to vent. This topic struck a nerve! 🙂
October 15, 2018 at 1:14 pm #101525
This has to be totally demoralizing for both you & your son. I am so sorry this is happening. A few ideas came to mind.
1) If the school will not allow fidget items, and even your son twiddling his thumbs is too much for them to deal with. Maybe your son could wear a bracelet with a single bead on it that he could spin. With just one bead, maybe the size of a marble, it would be silent & the physical movement would not be as obvious to the teachers. I wear a ring that I can spin when I need to.
2) Send the school printouts of some ADDitude articles about helping kids like ours succeed in the classroom. I actually gave my son’s elementary school a subscription to ADDitude in hopes the teachers would read it & learn.
3) This may take some time on your part but go through the book & tally up the positive comments vs. the negative comments. The negatives will greatly outweigh the positives. I would hope that as educators they comprenend how positive reinforcement works better than nitpicking on everything a kid isn’t doing to their expectations. Maybe pointing out how one-sided their negative comments are could help change they situation. How would they feel if they received a report everyday commenting on what they didn’t do correctly each & every day.
Shame on them.
October 15, 2018 at 2:54 pm #101562
Teachers do get daily reports on each and everything they “don’t” do correctly. Please see my post below.
– 12 year public educator, 4.0 gpa MA degree in Elementary Education, additionally certified in learning disabilities and behavior management
October 15, 2018 at 2:37 pm #101553
You could ask for a 504 meeting. And someone from your school with a better understanding of ADHD could hopefully work with you and his teacher on a better system for him (hopefully once it is official on a 504 it could go with him to future classrooms as well), just the initial meeting might give the teacher a start at a more positive behavior system with him! GOOD LUCK!
October 15, 2018 at 2:44 pm #101558
I rarely comment on things like this but I feel parents need to know what it’s like to be in the teacher’s shoes. The behavior reports are typically REQUIRED by the school or the district in compliance with documentation regulations for keeping parents aware of daily interactions. Can you imagine how long it takes a teacher to personally complete these each day for every student? And usually it’s required to be done during the 20 min “break” period where she also must stand in line for her only bathroom break of the day, make any phone calls, grade papers, enter grades, complete and submit lesson plans, make copies and tend to the 75 items on her checklist issued by the school or district. Some schedules don’t even allow for a teacher to get any opportunity for a “break” for such things. There are strict requirements for parental communication and documentation procedures for every single form of interaction between the teacher and parents—and that’s for ALL students they teach.
Personally I struggle with my own ADD diagnosis and symptoms. Ive taught various elementary grades during my 12 years working as an public educator. I have a Master’s degree and an additional certification for my studies related to adhd and related learning disabilities. I also served on a teacher support team that provided assistance to teachers concerning IEPs and related behavior/academic improvement plans. All of that to say—- I have experience on both ends of this topic and it’s ridiculous for anyone to comment that any teacher isn’t doing something correctly when as a parent the commentators agree that they cannot get better results from their child at home, in a one on one setting.
Imagine teaching 27 children with 7 or more having an IEP for disabilities and another 2-3 who also show a need for individualized instruction but do not have an IEP yet. If you haven’t done your job as a parent to get your child an IEP or 504 ruling that they could qualify for then you are essentially tying the teacher’s hands. Many times those “tattle” reports are what keep children getting the accommodations they need. I agree that there should be an effort on the teacher’s part to send home communication about positive behavior as well; however, it’s physically unrealistic to expect a teacher to make magic happen without supportive parents. Additionally, some things like allowing a fidget spinner aren’t the best ways to approach managing distractions or aren’t allowed by administrators.
I would suggest some of the critics above to request to observe for half a day in your child’s class. Just sit at the back of the room silently and notice the things she IS doing that go above and beyond. Better yet, volunteer to be a substitute for a day. You’ll get a better idea of what all takes place and the enormous efforts EVERY teacher makes in helping YOUR child to become a productive citizen. Have some of you ever thought to thank her for her efforts? If you want different results from a teacher then initiate that change by showing a positive reaction to something she IS doing correctly.
One person commented that they limit their interaction with school related tasks nightly to 30 min. If your child’s teacher limited her outside of class (and paying hours) efforts to just 30 min daily, then it’s likely she would be out of a job. Teaching is not just a job or a profession— it’s a calling. These people pour out more of themselves into helping, loving, and playing a parental role to your child than they do into their own personal lives. Don’t insult their efforts or their methods of communication with you that could be something that’s imposed on them as well.
It’s unlikely that sending a printout of articles or any other info regarding add/adhd will be helpful as the teacher has likely read that before plus taken formal education classes on such topics to even attain her degree as well as participated in the ongoing mandatory trainings by the district and state to keep her license in good standing.
If you want to see change from your child’s teacher, then call her and let her know you understand fully her efforts and your child’s limitations and ask her if there’s anything YOU can do on YOUR end to see your child has better learning experiences in her class and follow through. Please keep in mind that excessive disruptions not only affect your child but every other child in his/her class as well. It’s a teacher’s responsibility to provide the best learning environment for ALL of her students, and it’s extremely likely she’s exhausting herself more than you could ever imagine to do just that.
October 15, 2018 at 2:46 pm #101560
I am writing this from the unique perspective of being a mom of an ADHD 12 year old boy and a teacher. AND MY SON WAS IN MY SCHOOL. I cannot stress enough to you all that unless a teacher has an ADHD child of their own, then I truly don’t think they will ever understand what ADHD is all about. From the time my son was diagnosed with ADHD in Gr. 2 and started out of control behaviours, I was blamed by my principal and colleagues for most of it. My former principal said to me after she hauled me into her office “I just saw your son in class and he was fine so YOU’RE THE PROBLEM in this school!” Try going to work everyday after hearing THAT. But I shut my mouth because I knew she was wrong as my child had had previous issues at his previous school WHERE I DID NOT WORK. In my gut, I knew they were wrong and ultimately didn’t “get it”. But I made sure to advocate for him and speak up when needed. However, I will say this… I often found resistance when I would recommend things to try such as earphones or fidget toys. It was as if if the idea didn’t come from them they didn’t want to hear it. So it became a very fine balancing act between my colleagues and administration but in the end my son settled down, got off his medication, and got A’s on his report card and G’s and E’s on the Learning Skills part of his report card (despite the Spec Ed school contact saying that “your son will probably NEVER get Good or Excellent on his report card”. It was not easy to go through and I lost professional friendships over this, but in the end I did what was right at the time for MY SON. As teachers, we are not trained enough on ADHD or other syndromes. I am observant now when I meet teachers and cannot believe the lack of understanding and planning for Spec Ed kids in general. However, some of the best teachers that are best suited to our kids are those with many years of experience under their belt and who run what I call “tight” classrooms which are highly structured with tight rules and routines. As parents, we need to advocate for our children on a consistent basis, not just at the beginning of the school year. Know who the teachers are, which ones run “tight” classrooms, and try to figure out what teachers know about ADHD, including the principal. If they are refusing to accommodate, get your child on an IEP because it is a legal document and the school has the legal obligation to enforce it. If the school isn’t working out and your child isn’t thriving, consider changing schools which I eventually did for my son because he needed to be challenged. Advocate advocate advocate. And don’t assume that the system understands your child because they never will as much as YOU do. Be the squeaky wheel and do as much as you can! Assume nothing and TRUST YOUR GUT! It’s been hell for me but reading through these blogs and seeing what others are going through helps me to know that I’m not the only one. NOR AM I THE CAUSE. Good luck to all. God bless!
October 15, 2018 at 4:20 pm #101581
I feel your your pain.
My youngest is a struggling high school sophomore. In the many years I have been “working with” teachers to make life easier for them as well as my own SE kids, two things never cease to amaze me; 1) The low level of information many teachers who are specially trained in SE seem to possess, and 2) the fact that so many teachers whose personalities appear to be in direct opposition to what is required to teach an ADD/ADHD classroom (ie, calm, flexible, patient, inventive) seem to have chosen to work with special needs students in spite of themselves.
October 15, 2018 at 5:43 pm #101604
Hello, I am a special education teacher and have several students with ADHD in my classroom. After reading the posts, I can see both sides of this issue. I can only image how frustrating it must be to not be on the same page with those interacting with your child. As a teacher, I seek parent input on how best to meet the needs of their child. Each child that walks into my classroom is treated as an individual not a group of symptoms. I understand that it can be difficult for a child to pay attention…at times it’s difficult for me and I’m an adult! I will try many ideas to meet the needs of your child but, when it comes down to it, you know your child better than I do. I want the parents of my students to know that we are on the same team so any pointers they can give me are greatly appreciated. I appreciate the parent that is willing to work alongside me to figure out what works best. I would hope that if I am frustrating you as a parent that you would reach out and share your concerns with me. It’s true, not all teachers are equipped to work with children with special needs. Instead of getting frustrated and angry, please reach out to them. For some, it’s hard to ask for help. If the teacher isn’t willing to work with you, talk to the administrator. Maybe another teacher will support your child in a better way. A child’s self-esteem is way too important to hope they get a better teacher next year. Your child needs to know that you will advocate for them. Teaching children with special needs is my passion and it breaks my heart when I have to tell a parent that their child is hitting, kicking, or biting another child. I want to focus on what they are doing right, but I must look out for all of the students in my care. I guess my bottom line is that all teachers and parents are not the same. The only way to solve these problems is with open communication. If you aren’t willing to discuss your concerns with the teacher or administrator, don’t plan on things getting better. Our goal needs to be what is in the best interest of the child. I hope everyone can take a deep breath and start making positive strides to support our kids. As challenging as it can be, we have what it takes to make changes. Keep moving forward and have a great day! Just for the record, I think your child is amazing, creative, and powerful!
October 15, 2018 at 8:46 pm #101621
I totally sympathize with this.
It was so ridiculous that I took my kids out of public school.
They are homeschooled now. What good is an education if every day you are made to feel inadequate and broken?
October 18, 2018 at 8:34 am #101888
“What good is an education if every day you are made to feel inadequate and broken?”
Yes. Yes! YES!!
As parents, we get that teachers are grossly overworked and under-appreciated. We understand that behavior needs to be reported to us. What we take issue with a calling out a student’s weakness to THEM every day and not balancing it with positive praise and calling out what they did right. This type of behavior plan (a tattle book) is an attempt to control behavior through fear. Studies have shown that this approach leads to low self-esteem and also is likely to cause mental health struggles, like depression and anxiety, as adults.
When behavior is a problem, let the parent know in an email or a conversation. Sending a child home every day with a book that calls out all they’ve done wrong and very little of what they do right is just cruel.
ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Trainer & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism
October 15, 2018 at 9:28 pm #101626
DON”T IGNORE IT! YOU HAVE TO FIGHT PETTY B.S. with PETTY B.S. The average ADD kid receives 12,000 ADDITIONAL negative messages by the time they finish middle school compared to the “normal” kid. That’s 12,000 EXTRA negative messages and your school sees fit to double down on that?! NO WAY!! Start documenting like hell, get a plan, get an outside counselor and advocate, advocate, advocate for your kid! Social anxiety, the fear of getting it wrong and being “that” parent keeps a lot of ADD parents out of the school but I watch the “sorority” moms at the school (I’m stuck at a private school becasue of the divorce settlement so I am learning the ropes – we are super smart, creative, talented A.D.D. people USE your SUPERPOWERS) and they flipping live there! You don’t have to win every argument you just have to have more of them so your odds go up. If the “it” moms are winning 50% and we’re winning 100% of the conflicts I bet they are winning 200% more than us because they are having several micro-conflicts a day with teachers, other parents, administration, etc. and we are having MAYBE several conflicts a year or some of us a school (3-4 for elementary school, 3-4 for middle school and 3-4 for high school – whew! thank god we’re done! They have that many before lunch!). I get it. I hate it. I’m not wired that way. I do not want to be a helicopter parent but I will tell you what! ever since I started volunteering at the school, parking and walking in for pick-ups and drop-offs BEING SEEN. Saying all those sugary sweet why bless your heart I noticed your new bulletin board or the new grading scale or Whatever the teachers know I am paying attention and all of a sudden my child (who I though it kept happening to because of her ADD) doesn’t get the late pass, or the 89 in art for lack of creativity, or C in gym for forgetting her shorts, etc. because they know they will have to deal with me and as a very naive and idealistic ADD mom I have finally figured out that the petty teachers want LESS work and to hit the door at 4 and anything you do to slow that down is a pain in their a** so they will move on to the kid whose parent is more distracted (a little like the lazy burglar who goes past the house with the alarm sticker – you don’t even have to have the alarm system just the sticker if you are a pain in the ass from day 1 you can coast off that for most of the school year and only REAL problems get brought up). The advice from the mom that says create some MEASURABLE goals and reward good behavior is great and it puts the work back in their laps. Lets see how important it is to them. If they step up to the plate of more work than maybe it is worth looking at, but I will tell you another thing IGNORING IT IS MAKING IT WORSE FOR YOUR KID BECAUSE IGNORING ABUSE BRINGS OUT THE BULLY IN EVEN THE MILDEST PERSON. NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS AND A SILENT PARENT OFTEN MAKES THEIR KID AN EASY TARGET!!! Like Sheldon from Big Bang Theory my ADDer loves rules, so I had to tell her one of “the rules” of social interaction is that it is often nebulous, arbitrary and subjective. And you have to let it go and not get hyperfocused on it or take it too seriously or the ADD individual starts getting scapegoated because they care so much about getting it right.
You are not who they say you are, you are who you say you are.
~ Jason Alexander
- This reply was modified 4 months, 1 week ago by Porschebrainwith4flattires.
October 16, 2018 at 6:04 pm #101769
My heart goes out to you and I can totally empathize with your angst over your son’s academic environment. I am having similar reactions from the teachers of my 4th grade grandson (we are raising him). While he is academically advanced, he has socio-behavioral challenges tied to ADHD and SPD and PTSD. Over this past summer, he attended a summer day camp program for ADHD kids. The most valuable tool they utilized for behavior modification was a Daily Report Card (DRC). The DRC is structured to reward the positive behaviors- and it works! 2 or 3 behaviors are chosen, with a target number. For example, Tommy raises his hand and waits to be called on before speaking, with no more than 5 violations per class period. Teacher marks Yes or No, DRC goes home each day with child, and child is rewarded at home for each Yes. (Child and parent can establish a rewards menu ahead of time). In addition to daily reward, a weekly reward cam also be established for earning a targeted number of Yes’s for the week. You can google Daily Report Card for more information. Challenge is getting teachers on board. It helps if they can see that, the energy they put into this will save them a lot of effort later- as the child’s behavior will improve.
October 17, 2018 at 1:39 pm #101832
I would not return the burn book, and I suggest actually burning it. My daughter is an 8th grader, and the school would literally call me over every little thing. I have to be very blunt with teachers, ie “Do not call me about rolling of eyes, a sigh, chewing of gum, or because she took a drink of water when she wasn’t supposed to. Please call me if she is a danger to herself or others, is being verbally abusive, or you have an idea how to help her studies.” This has decreased the amount of phone calls significantly. Good luck, it’s a hard task. I live for school breaks, and the summer.
October 23, 2018 at 7:02 pm #102270
Thank you all for your replies– I read each and every one. I will say, I am a very involved parent. I am also an employee at the same school. Is this a good combination? Not in my experience. I think it’s very difficult for a child who’s parent works in the same school, because it almost puts a magnifying glass on them. My son, as I said, is in a small contained classroom. 4 students in total, two of which push into regular ed classes at different parts of the day. Last year my son pushed into some classes as well, this year he is not. Why- I have no idea. I was never even told that he’s not pushing in- and I work there. He has an IEP, and has since pre-school. Our school is very small, with only one classroom per grade.. with the exception of his room which is still fairly new to our school. Also, I am not a fan of fidget spinners myself in school..the fidgeting that he got in trouble for in the library- was moving his own thumbs on his own body, while listening to a story that he was very interested in. You don’t get a much quieter “fidget” than that. We have parent teacher conferences coming up at the end of November, and I’m curious to see how he is even doing grade wise, because I have not seen a single graded paper come home yet. So if things in my original post shocked anyone, I wonder what this one will do lol. I do advocate for my son– I requested that he receive AIS in math two years ago, because I was constantly being told “he’s struggling in math”..yet wondered why I knew students in my room were going for AIS and he never was. He did get AIS- but not without being met with attitude from the provider- because it was MY request. I looked up the guidelines for AIS and it says right in there that parents can request it, and he qualified. I just wish that those of us who do want more for our children, who do want them to get the extra help, who have gone through numerous appointments, evaluations, testing, etc. to get them the help, were met at least half way. I have parents that don’t want their kids evaluated, just say “boys will be boys”, don’t want the stigma of an IEP or 504 for their child, so they will just be in denial. My son has been evaluated upside down and sideways, and the school has all of these records. They have recommendations from Dr. Vincent Monastra- an ADHD “guru” in my opinion, and recommendations from the center that diagnosed him with ASD- who has people that would be willing to come out to the school to help with the classroom environment, staff training, behavioral plans, etc. Anyway, I don’t want to go off on another rant. I just wanted to thank you all for your feedback.
February 1, 2019 at 5:20 pm #108142
From the school side of things, I hate these for any age for any number of reasons.
#1 – They are too subjective as evidenced by all of the comments above.
#2 – They are often not useful. I prefer charting positive progress and priorities. Telling me someone “struggled” or “had a bad day” is pretty useless to me. (Try seeing how well-communicated those words are understood from a new-age hippy teacher to a military family. They are not picturing the same things!) Telling me that we completed 3 out of 5 activities, that is actionable. The students can also participate in the tracking and it creates better ownership, self-awareness, metacognition, etc. We can set goals and rewards based off of these.
#3 – I have seen important “wheat” missed in all of “chafe”. I have reviewed some after the fact where I have seen some important “red flag” statements or issues that were missed because they were buried in daily novelas of petty and useless.
$4 – If there is a lot of negative and not a lot of positive, teachers and parents have better things that they can be doing with their time that are more helpful and less frustrating. Do that instead.
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