What to Do When a Classroom Doesn’t Work for Your Child
By Jennifer Cummings, M. Ed. – Most of America’s elementary and middle school classrooms have a mixture of students with different abilities, strengths, and weaknesses.
Some children use the regular curriculum, and others require special education services because of their diagnosed needs. Depending on the academic, social, or behavioral needs of the students, there may be a classroom teacher and a paraprofessional or second teach Save er as well. Classrooms are, like America, made up of a melting pot of individuals who together make a strong single unit.
However, with increasing financial and social pressure to keep all students in the public classroom many teachers are finding students with more and more severe behavioral diagnoses are being kept in traditional classroom settings. Even with additional help, students with extremely disruptive behaviors can impact the learning and behavior of the entire classroom. Yelling, throwing items, hitting, threatening, stealing, and other disruptive behaviors are being seen more and more frequently in classrooms, leading to frustrated teachers and generally underperforming students.
Without a doubt, all students need to learn to work with others and be tolerant of the differences between people. Having a severely disruptive student in your child’s classroom can be more than a learning experience, however. If your child’s classroom is interrupted daily or even multiple times a day by another child’s behavior, that can lead to negative impacts on your child’s learning ability. At times, your child may be paying more attention to what their classmate is doing (or going to do) than to their lessons.
If your child’s classroom has become a place where frequent behavioral outbursts are all too common, what should you do? Here are some tips to help you decide when to get more closely involved in the situation:
* Has your child been describing this behavior been happening over a period of time? Some times students have times when they have difficulties in life, just as adults do. However, if disruptive behaviors are a problem over not only days but weeks or months, this likely is not temporary.
* Is your child expressing fear about entering the classroom or going to school? Kids that are in a classroom with a severely disruptive student sometimes become overly anxious about the thought of sitting in class.
* Be supportive, yet cautious. Is this a student who your child has a problem with outside of school? Is this more of a personality clash than a classroom problem? Before you approach the teacher or school, know the circumstances of the issues your child’s having at school. you want to be sure you have the correct facts to work with.
If your child is fearful of going to school or has been able to tell you more about the disruptive student’s outbursts than about the social studies lesson for the last two months, it’s time to visit the school. Make an appointment with your child’s teacher so you can discuss your concerns and hear what is going on in the classroom. Remember, the teacher is not allowed to discuss other students with you, so be sure to concentrate on your specific concerns for your child’s experiences and education.
Your visit to the teacher may or may not be as productive as you would hope. Bound by confidentiality the teacher is not allowed to discuss the other student or their issues with you specifically. Also, teachers generally do not have control over the specific students who are placed in their classrooms and cannot move a child in or out of a room. However, they can come up with a plan for helping your child to deal with the problem. If this is not enough or is not helping, it’s important that you continue to work with the school through the guidance department or administrative offices. If your child’s classroom is being severely disrupted by another student it is your right as a parent to advocate for your child’s education.
All children deserve the opportunity to get a full and productive public education. However, there are times when the dynamics of a classroom simply do not work. If your child is experiencing a difficult classroom situation due to another student, take the time to investigate what’s happening and use what you learn to work with the school to make changes to benefit your child’s education. Together you and the school can help your child to have a successful year!