Classroom discipline (3rd grade) - CHADD's ADHD Pare...

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Classroom discipline (3rd grade)

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Hello, wondering if any one has had this issue. My son’s 3rd grade teacher seems to do a lot of “if one person talks in line, the whole class has to go sit down and start over.” My son is ALWAYS the kid who talks in line and blows it for the class. He already has such a difficult time socially. He is a sweet soul but often overreacts, sometimes physically. The other day when my son made things worse for the class, a kid said “Thanks a lot, Joe” and my son pushed him, and got in trouble for that (as he should...) I just think this whole approach is really, REALLY bad for my son. He is on medication, sees a therapist and has an IEP.

Another mom I know told me she has a concern about the exact same issue with this teacher, except her son is one of the “good kids” who comes home disheartened and unhappy, bc the class has lost recess minutes or etc. bc of “a small group of boys” who are misbehaving.

Thoughts? Is this typical / common/ accepted way to manage the kids? Thanks so much.

7 Replies

I feel you on this one. I have found out recently that teachers do not necessarily have education on how to deal with our children with ADHD in fact some teachers have zero information unless they have sought it out. I would have a very direct conversation with his teachers supervisor in conjunction with the people involved in your IEP. This is essentially public shaming for a child who is trying his best.

I agree that you need to have a pointed conversation with the teacher. But you will have to figure out a way to word it so that the teacher will understand and take it seriously. If that doesn't work, you may need to go to the principal and/or have a meeting with both the principal and the teacher together.

Also, add in to the IEP/504 that the teacher should always correct your child in private. Add that the teacher should privately come up with a behavior plan with your child - this would be something where they would focus on one thing at a time, like talking in line, and come up with incentives when the # of times/day is reduced. Add that the teacher should come up with an agreed upon signal with your child when he's staring to get out of line (like putting a blank sticky note on his desk, touching his shoulder, tapping her own ear, etc.). If he doesn't already, he should have preferred seating (near kids that will not encourage him to talk) AND he should be in line between kids that will not encourage him to talk.

I feel that this teacher is setting up the whole class to learn bullying rather than acceptance. What exactly does this teacher feel that the rest of the class will learn from this experience? She probably thinks the peer pressure will change your child's behavior, but it will not.

My son had a teacher in 3rd grade who was significantly worse. I felt like I was sending my kid to school in order to be bullied by his teacher every day. And my son wasn't even the top target in the classroom (he was 3rd or 4th). I spent a great deal of time in the principal's office complaining about the teacher's behavior. Within a month, I realized that the principal could do nothing without a formal complaint. The teacher behaved very differently whenever someone else was in the classroom with her. So I started a spreadsheet to track every incident (including incidents that my child witnessed happening to other kids). I talked to other parents and shared the spreadsheet with them so they could add things too. None of us felt comfortable filing a formal complaint during the school year because this particular teacher was known for retaliating and making the kid's life more miserable. On the last day of school, we all submitted our many formal complaints (total of 74). Although she was not fired, I think it was eye opening for her and she saw the writing on the wall. Finally by the end of the summer she left for another type of job. If she had remained, I would have organized the parents of the next 3rd grade class to track everything right from the start and this time file the formal complaints immediately.

I don't think that this teacher is that bad. I think that this teacher just doesn't get it and needs to have things spelled out for her. How this is affected your child emotionally. How others are putting down your child because the whole class is being punished, How other kids are discouraged because they are punished despite their good behavior. How ADHD works. How ADHD kids struggle with social skills to begin with and now they are being publicly humiliated which will lead to anxiety, school avoidance, and no friends. Etc. Maybe buy or lend her a book or two on ADHD.

Good luck!

Yes, this happened at my daughter's elementary school all the time and it makes me so angry. None of the children should have free time and recess taken away EVER. It is a horrid way to "make" someone behave when movement and freedom is what they NEED!

3rd graders are not yet ready to "police" their group, even if they don't have ADHD. This approach may work with older kids, but it's really a set-up to fail situation and can cause real damage to those kids who have trouble standing in line, talking, etc. I would have a talk with the principal if the teacher is not receptive. I agree that it is public shaming. We used to buy our son's teachers a Russell Barkley book on teaching ADHD kids every year for a Christmas gift!!

Thanks so much everyone for your thoughts and support. I emailed the teacher in a non-confrontational way and she replied back in a positive, email that doesn’t say anything kind of way. I agree with the comment below - while this particular thing is terrible, the teacher could be a lot worse. It seems she allows him to take a lot of breaks without any hassle, including going outside the building for a mask break. We only have 3 weeks left of 3rd grade, and then it’s another roll of the dice for 4th grade.

Although she is young and I think considers herself as enlightened, the principal of our school initiated a cafeteria thing a couple years back, where the class got extra recess or something if everyone in the class sat in their seat and waited to be dismissed. Surprise surprise, my son ended up standing on his seat and squirting his milk box all over everyone :-(

Thanks again to this group for support!!!

I would also like to recommend you start the new year with a meeting with his teacher. These meetings help a lot especially to talk about your sons strengths and then areas he may need more support with. Our children have so much to offer and as long as teachers establish a loving supportive relationship our children thrive. We are so glad you are here and we love the community we have built.

Take care,

Oh wow, his teacher is actually CREATING a bullying atmosphere (albeit probably not on purpose)! She’s going to ruin his reputation by doing this though! It sounds as if she isn’t familiar with ADHD. I would step in IMMEDIATELY.

For now...

I would start with the school counselor. She/he will be more open to challenges your son has because she/he will be more familiar with these things. From there a meeting can be set up with the teacher as the counselor best sees fit. The teacher might be more responsive to another “professional” before hearing from you since she sounds a bit harsh. Then you can step in as the concerned/supportive parent rather than going in and mowing the teacher down.

Get the ball rolling...

If you don’t have an IEP, get that going with the counselor when you meet with her. Tell her that you want to set up an IEP meeting. This will also help the teacher see that this is real, not just a complaining parent. As part of the process they will have someone come in and observe him in the classroom. They will do a host of things.

For next school year...

Schedule a meeting with the teacher at the very beginning of the school year to let them know your son’s challenges and the best strategies in the classroom. Then ask how you can be of support.

My story...

*My son was always in trouble in elementary school and was the kid who had to have his desk pushed up against the teachers desk while everyone else sat in clusters. I get it. I received more calls from the principal than I care to remember.

Fast forward...

I’m stronger now, he finally got help, and he is now navigating college and sees the value in signing up for disability services and regularly taking his meds. There are many bumps along the way but when you see them as young adults take over the maintenance of ADHD its a happy day. I’m still there for him but he is flying on his own now.

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