My son got a note from his 1st grade teacher that he was refusing to work/participate during his math group class. Based on what my son told me and the email she sent me it doesn't sound like he was doing it on purpose. It sounds like he was nervous and feeling bad for not knowing the answer. I guess his teacher was frustrated that he couldn't find the counters to help him figure out what 2 + 2 was. Though she says they were right in front of him and in the same place as they always are for some reason he couldn't find them. Unless he was being disrespectful or flat out told her no I don't really agree with the note I received saying he was refusing to work or participate in his class. Here is the email I received:
"As you know, Alex has been in my math group since the beginning of the school year. Alex has really increased his ability to listen to instructions the first time. He consistently sits within close proximity of me so ensure that he is following along and listening. Just recently he has been able to listen to instructions given the first time. Previously I had to give a reminder to ensure he was listening. Repeating instructions 3 times to him was common. The following is an example: please write the number 6 on line A. Then he would say, what number. When the prompt was given two times previous.
At times he seems to not know how to be a self starter. If he comes into the classroom and doesn?t see a chair at his spot. He just stands there. Without using his words he doesn?t move. So after waiting him out 5 minutes or so. I would ask him how he could problem solve it. He often responds with ?I don?t know.? This is not only for getting a chair but a pencil that might be on the other side of the table we are working at. So I spoke with Mrs. York about a strategy to ensure that he is working on problem solving those situations. She ensured me that giving him clear directions and an encouraging phrase such as, ?I know you can figure out how to?.? This has been successful for her. So since doing that he has been taking more of an initiative.
On Thursday, the students were working on problems that were review. Adding one more and two more. He solved problems 14+1, 8+1, and 5+2. When he solved 2+2 he said 24. I asked him if he started with 2 and moved over two more on the number line, what number would you end up on? He said, ?24.? I told him to go the shelf where we get counters so he can use this to help him. He said, ?I don?t know where that is.? This is a place where students go to get supplies for activities. He was standing right in front of the shelf and looking at them and said, ?I don?t know what shelf. What am I suppose to get.? So I told him I was confident that he could find counters to help him. So he stood there. When I saw him do this, I said, okay I am looking at the clock and it says 9:50, this is way past our time. From here on out, you will need to start owing me your recess time. About 10 minutes later one of the para?s came in and didn?t realize he was trying to problem solve where to get the counters as he was now sitting in front of the shelf where we get the counters. She got them for him and helped him. When he came to me and said 2 + 2 is 4. I said, ?Great, how did you know how to solve this.? He said, ?She helped me.?
This was a task that I was confident that he knew how to do and was able to take counters out of an open container on the shelf to help him with this task. In our program, we are working on students using numbers lines and visualizing moving over on those numbers. Adding two more is not a new task in facts we have been working on this for a few months. In order to solidify number conservation students are taught to know that a 2 is 2 and a two has two objects. So holding a number, usually the largest and counting on the next number . When figures are used, the prompt is what number are you starting with, then what is one more, then two more. He is able to verbalize this and complete it on activities. We do work extensively on holding a number in our head then counting on. Please let me know if you have any further questions."
I don't know but do you think that he should have had his recess taken away for not knowing where the counters were or for saying he didn't know where they were (even if they were in the same spot as they usually are)? Couldn't she just have helped him like the other teacher did? My son does have anxiety and if she made him feel bad for not knowing what 2 + 2 was I can understand why he'd be feeling a littler nervous and his mind not functioning as it normally would. I am also curious how long much longer she would have made him keep looking for them? She said she kept him 10 minutes past while the rest of his peers returned to their regular 1st grade class. Another teacher happened to walk in and spotted them for him. He figured out the answer on his own. The purpose of him going to his math group is to learn how to solve math problems...not to spend his time looking for counters that he obviously couldn't find. Haven't we all looked for something we spent hours looking for only to realize it was right in front of our eyes all along? Am I overreacting to the way I perceive his math teacher (who is not his regular 1st grade teacher) treated him? If I'm not overreacting how should I handle this?
I received feedback from a different board on this site and many of them think he has a learning disability and it's his fault he got his recess taken away (they also noted his teacher's bad writing skills/punctuation). I have no problem with him having recess taken away so long as it's a legitimate reason...and it always has been in the past. My son is very bright and has never been diagnosed with a learning disability of any type. I took him to a psychologist a few months ago because I thought he had ADHD but she told me she felt he had anxiety. The reason I thought he had ADHD is because he has difficulty staying on task at school but I was told he isn't disrespectful. I have no problem when his 1st grade teacher complains about this because she's very encouraging. She's a very positive influence in his life but I'm not so sure I agree with his math teacher. I feel she's picking on him for not getting a simple answer right and then punishing for not being able to find something. Can you imagine how his peers react to this? One thing his 1st grade teacher did tell me that worried me is that his peers often don't want to work with him because they think he's going to get them in trouble since they know that he's constantly getting reminded to stay on task. She said that was a problem at the beginning but not anymore. That kind of breaks my heart to hear that it would be allowed in class but I can also understand it.