It's the same with students that give the prior year's teacher an issue. Teachers write it up. "Had trouble listening." "Had trouble doing work" "Wouldn't pay attention" "Didn't put 100% effort into work". Yes, these are things that are written in kids permanent files. These comments follow them grade to grade to grade. And teachers look at them. If you get a good teacher, they don't always put a lot of stock in these, yet, they do watch that child just a bit closer. They tend to jump on that kid just a bit more quickly than they would another child who is exhibiting the same behavior but didn't have those notes in their file. Even the best teachers that I know are guilty of this.
It is no secret last year was horrible for Monster. His teacher was awful. She truly was. Even the other teachers didn't like her. She made it so Monster hated school. No matter how awful she was though, it's her notes that are in my son's permanent file. It's her notes that other teachers read. It's her notes that other teachers are making judgments about my kid. It's her notes that are causing teachers to be harder on him than on other kids.
This year has been so much better than last year, but it's still the little things. It's the things that are being drawn from last year. I find it very difficult to believe that my child, who is getting his work done and getting good grades, but is not paying attention at times because he is reading, is the worst kid in the class. And if he is, wow, good for that teacher. I actually had a kid once who threatened to kill the class pet and was on anti-psychotic drugs at age 7. Wonder how the teacher who can't have a kid read would deal with that one. The thing is though, I've been in the classroom to see it. Yes, he shouldn't be reading, but he's at his desk, with his work complete. Let me tell you what I see when I go in. I see kids out of their desks. I see kids talking during tests. I see kids blankly staring into space. And, I see kids reading. Know what my kid is doing every single time I go to the school? He's reading. Yes, he needs several reminders to put the book down, but I'm also listening to the teacher telling kids to get into their seats. So, why is he different? He's different because of a judgement made by reading his file. "Doesn't pay attention". Well, I hate to say it, but obviously, if he's acing every test, the kid is either a) paying attention or b) doesn't really need to pay attention because he knows the material. Should he be paying attention? Yes, I'm not saying he's better than other kids and can do what he wants, but how about those kids talking or wandering around the classroom who aren't grasping the concepts? Are those kids paying attention? Or maybe those are the kids that just didn't have a note in their permanent file.
It's amazing the issues that teachers don't want to deal with that they don't want you know about. Like the kid in third grade threatening physical violence on classmates. Isn't there that zero tolerance policy? How convenient it is to ignore a behavior when the teacher doesn't want to actually deal with the situation? Or how about the girls who are ganging up on other girls and being mean? That's called bullying now, which is supposedly not tolerated. If they don't "see" that's it happening though and those bullies have never gotten in trouble, then it must not really be going on, right? It's not the kids with notes in their files that are the ones who are the biggest problems. It's the ones without the notes. It's the ones who are sneaky about their actions. Yet, we get good kids who go through school under a microscope because of teacher comments.
I'm not just venting and spewing about my son. I'm talking about all kids who are different in some way. Sometimes, the notes can be helpful, but mostly, they're harmful. "Difficulty reading" "Lacks fluency" "Trouble drawing conclusions" Those notes can be just as damaging. Yes, all students are assessed at the beginning of the year to see where their instructional level is (which is whole other topic because it really doesn't matter what instructional level they are at since education is now "one size fits all"), but no matter where that child falls in the assessment, they will be looked at differently. if the child scores in the "normal" or "above average" range, the teacher retests more often to find something wrong with the test results. The teacher waits until the child shows a slight struggle and then decides the assessment was incorrect. The teacher looks for "difficulty reading", "lacks fluency, "trouble drawing conclusions".
Go ahead, teachers, deny it. You can deny it all you want, but you know it's true. Even if, on the extremely rare chance, this doesn't apply to you, you know it applies to your colleagues. We all start out saying we won't ever do that, but we all do. So here it is...teachers don't want you to know that they have already judged your child, whether it be good or bad. They have looked at your child's grades and notes. They have decided how much attention they are going to pay to your child. They have decided if your child is a trouble maker or not. They have done all this, sometimes without even knowing what your child looks like. And, even more, they have already judged you as well. They know how they are going to treat you before you even step foot through the school doors. They don't want you to know this because they want you to believe that they care. If you are very lucky, you may get a teacher who actually still does care, but those teachers are few and far between. Most teachers want you to believe that they care, but what they really want is for your kid to shut up, sit down and just get through the day.
***Please don't ask me what is going on that made me write this. I've been writing this for 6 months. I've been editing trying to make it not sound so negative. There's just no positive way to spin this, unless you have a child is sits down, shuts up and is smart enough to keep up.***