Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Hoping She "Gets" It This Time

So, the other day I shared with y'all that LMNOB's Second-Grade Teacher has frustrated me a bit. This is not the first time, either.
After I spoke with School OT (who very much agreed with me) I e-mailed her this:

Hi Ms. Second Grade Teacher,

I just wanted to check in with you on a few things.

First of all – thank you for making sure LMNOB sends home the checklist each day. They are helpful tools for me to gauge what needs to be done that night at home.

1.) Volunteering – I have a couple of things that I wanted to check in with you about. First – I know that teachers rely upon volunteers to be there when scheduled and that is why I’ve tried to let you know in advance when I have a conflict – to
demonstrate respect for your planning needs and to allow for ample time to develop a plan around it. However, as illustrated by the misunderstandings that occurred on September 18th and today, something is failing in my communication with you, and I want to do my best to remedy this.

Would it be more helpful* if I gave you a month’s schedule at a time, as per the example below, rather than saying “I won’t be there Oct. 16th?” I would like to
avoid miscommunication as much as possible, so please let me know how I can best
meet your need here.
Second – As you are aware, the transition has not gone well from my volunteer period to recess with LMNOB. As you and I have both talked with LMNOB, we’ve both let her know that if she can’t transition well then I should not be coming in to volunteer. I feel that today’s transition failure caused undue stress for myself and possible social ramifications as her peers witnessed her inappropriate response.

I feel that I must either work with you to find an alternative for the transition or hold true to the statement of me not coming in to volunteer, as repeat of the above is not acceptable to me. I would like for you to read the short article I’ve attached on Sensory Integration, as it illustrates some of what is happening with LMNOB during these transitions and is good information for you to have about her – also I have added some of my own notes as applies to LMNOB in the article.

One alternative that we could do** is have you escort LMNOB out to recess after she and I’ve had a bear hug (good input for her). She may resist at first, but past experience in various settings (school, daycare, church) has shown me that this works for her – makes the transition short and swift rather than prolonging it. Some quick input to her shoulders (a squeeze or two) from you will likely aid in the transition, as well as an instruction to bunny hop/do the monkey bars, etc., as a sensory input AND a diversionary tactic. If you find it too difficult to accommodate (only once/week), then I’m afraid I will have to stop volunteering so as to avoid repeated bad transitions. Please let me know which option you would prefer.

2.) Theraputty/Chewies – I sent these to school with LMNOB last week and she’s
reported that her desk-mates (the two boys on either side of her) have told her that she shouldn’t be doing that (theraputty) and she’s embarrassed/scared to use it. As we’ve talked before about confrontational speech and how LMNOB struggles with it, I would just ask you to keep an eye on this and perhaps talk with the boys about how LMNOB has special permission because it helps her hands get strong.

3.) Wednesdays – We have had serious weekly melt-downs*** at home with LMNOB on Wednesday evenings, resulting in some homework wars that could come to her academic detriment if continued – and the only thing I can come up with is that it is due to the shortened day. I have not had a chance to analyze her checklists and see if there is less being done by/for her on Wednesdays, but could I ask that you please try to ensure a minimum of 3 in-class activities that provide a strong input (i.e. hard bunny hops v. theraputty) on these days? I’d like to see if over a period of weeks it makes a difference.

Thank you for your time in reading this. I look forward to your response.

* This is my attempt to demonstrate a willingness to work as a team, a 2 way street. I do have that willingness, even if I think it is a bit ridiculous to explain a schedule to a teacher of 15+ years.
** Again, this is my [generous, imho] attempt to not just complain, but to offer solutions as well.
*** I did not link that story in my e-mail to her, but perhaps I should have as we'll soon see.
Hi Heather,
I was going to call or email you too in regards to yesterday. No worries about the confusion with you coming in yesterday...I've just had some volunteers change times etc. and I didn't get your time change in the right place.
Again? Seriously, I asked her if we can work on this communication issue because when I've been on a different schedule than she was, she's made her inconvenience rather well-known, if you know what I mean. That's what I'm trying to avoid.

Thank you for the info on sensory integration. I have read articles that
Ms. M had but of course I can always learn more! I will read it over the

Yes, I agree it is stressful for you and me ( as well as LMNOB) when you try to leave the class. I would love to have you continue to help, Heather but I agree we need to be able for LMNOB to let go. When you come in next time let's try the strategies that you mentioned and see if that helps. As you know I have morning duty at 10:00 and need to be on the playground supervising all students. If it doesn't work, then I
think it best that you no longer help.

I will talk with the boys next to her to be sure they understand that it is okay for LMNOB to have the theraputty and chewies.

I have no idea what is happening on Wednesdays with her, but we will do more strong inputs on those days.

Thank you for helping me help LMNOB!!

Ms. Second Grade Teacher
Of course she has no idea what is happening on Wednesdays - aside from the separation freak-outs, Ms. Second Grade Teacher has no clue what crashing with LMNOB is like. And without children of her own, she can't even imagine a fraction of it.
I'm hoping that she gets it as much as her e-mail made it sound. I'm reserving judgment as I thought I'd made headway with her before and to no avail.
For what it's worth, yesterday's checklist had remarkably more things facilitated in the classroom than the past several weeks have had. And, last night was a great night with LMNOB.

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