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KickButtMama
My co-op frustration
October 4, 2012 at 9:58 AM
So as many of you know I'm one of the directors of our local co-op. I'm also teaching 2 classes - my Camp Halfblood, and Math Concepts. Our co-op has 4 class periods, so my eldest has 2 classes taught by me and 2 taught by others, whereas my youngest is only in 1 of my classes and 3 with others.

Well. My eldest is also taking a theater class. He has had these instructors every semester for one thing or another, and he loves them (its a mom and her 2 late teen daughters). My eldest has Aspergers, which is kind of mild - it really depends on the situation. But he was soooo excited about starting back to co-op that by the theater class (the last one of the day) he was a little sensitive. They had the kids yelling at the top of their lungs, so DJ covered his ears, and he was asked to get up on stage to do an improv....which an Asperger kid will (most often) not understand. So the next day I got this loooooong email telling me theater might not be a right fit for him. I spoke with him about it, but he said he thought it was just that he was overwhelmed due to the first day excitement. He didn't want to drop the class. So I wrote the teachers back to give him another chance. I was already ticked, because I was seated right outside the door to the room in the hall, so if they thought he was miserable, why didn't one of them open the dang door? Then my irritation was compounded when later that day I get an email from another mom in co-op, telling me to contact these instructors as the instructors told her they were concerned that DJ 'wigged' out in class. (DJ doesn't wigg out, pretty much ever, he does a statue impression when overwhelmed, freezing in place) so I was completely ticked that they had gone to another parent B4 coming to me with any concerns about my special needs kid! So, last week I sat in on the class.. DJ did great, he only had a little trouble understanding when the class was broken into groups of 3 and asked to make a skit in 2 minutes, he just needs more direction than that. But he did fine and had fun so I didn't pull him from the class. THEN this week, I met the teacher in the hall outside the door to the gym (where they do theater) just to let her know I'd be coming in late as my younger son was giving a presentation. Then I went downstairs to wait for my youngests presentation. I chatted with 2 different moms for like 10 minutes, when DJ comes downstairs and literally collapses to his knees in front of me. One of his friends came with him and explained that they were all running in the gym when DJ slipped and hurt his forearm. So I took DJ into my younger sons class with an ice pack, saying we'd leave as soon as my youngest finished his presentation. Luckily it wasn't broken just bruised (since we had it checked out while I was getting my ultrasound for my knee).

Wouldn't you know, the next day I get another super loooong email. This one claimed DJ was injured before the instructor was in the room (which I don't see as possible since I spoke to her just outside the room before going downstairs), and basically blamed it on everyone else from the co-op, that every other teacher must be ending 3rd period early, because They end their 3rd period class on time and yet the kids are all waiting for them for what seems like a long time. And this was the reason for Daniels injury. I wrote back that there is a 5 minute break between every class, and if kids are right across the hall from the gym it would only take them 5seconds to arrive. And that the 3rd period in the gym is actually a gym games class, so it is true that the theater kids often play some of the games before theater. But with 2 people over 18 and one 16 y/o teaching theater, one of them should be able to scoot up to the gym fairly quickly, no? AND I firmly believe the main culprit in dJ's injury was the fact that the teachers have the kids remove their shoes - which leaves kids like mine in their socks - which is slippery on a gym floor!

Anyway, my DH is super ticked and wants me to withdraw DJ from the class. DJ has all his BFF's in the class so doesn't want to leave it. Now I don't know what to do. As the co-director, it's difficult for me to sit in on every class, and DJ is 11 and would like the independance of not having mom in on every little thing......grrrrrrr. What would you do?

Replies

  • irvinehiker
    October 4, 2012 at 11:38 PM

     idk...I'm too tired to think coherently tonight...but here's a bump

  • KrissyKC
    October 5, 2012 at 1:25 AM

    I don't know.   One, maybe the co-op teachers aren't used to dealing with special needs in a group setting.   I know that most co-op teachers are moms/dads that have something to offer the group and aren't trained like public school teachers are.   If that's the case, then there needs to be understanding given that this is volunteer run and it sounds like the teacher is a little unsure and that's why she's making excuses.  (not justifying her approach, just saying WHY she is acting that way)...

    Second, regarding the fall... well, kids are kids.   If he was horsing around in the gym, then he might fall..   I think accidents happen when it comes to kids sometimes.   If your child is unsafe without a teacher that understands his special needs, then maybe you need to discuss this with the leaders of the co-op and you should step down as a teacher and just follow your son around as an assistant in his classes.

    Would that help?



  • Knightquester
    October 5, 2012 at 1:49 AM

    I'd have a hard time with that one too.  In one hand you know that your child deserves the independence he's asking for, but in another hand it doesn't feel like the right situation to give him that given the teachers are not willing to look out for the children and more so work with your son.  It's a tough call and having not been in your shoes I don't know.

    If you're not entirely sure and your sons really wanting to go back I would probably let my child go back until I felt very sure that it wasn't the right thing or that something worse than a bruise could happen.  I would however make a chance to go to the class as much as possible if nothing else to look in and make sure that he was being well looked after.

    I hope everything works out for your son.

  • KickButtMama
    October 5, 2012 at 8:08 AM
    I can see what you're saying. These ladies have teaching as their business, they charge a lot of money for their classes (the cheapest starts at $60 and goes up from the). Before he entered their classroom for the first time (like 2years ago) I pulled them aside and explained his condition. With Aspergers you can get kids who are 99.99% 'normal behavior' and 0.01% quirks. And I told them I'm right outside the door if there is ever a problem.

    I don't mind that they were unsure how to handle the situation. I do mind that none of them opened the door, AND that they gossiped about it with someone else before speaking to me.
  • mem82
    by mem82
    October 5, 2012 at 8:39 AM

    I would be annoyed with the gossiping. Is the teen girls the ones having an issue with him? Or is this an adult?

  • KickButtMama
    October 5, 2012 at 9:05 AM
    Quoting mem82:

    I would be annoyed with the gossiping. Is the teen girls the ones having an issue with him? Or is this an adult?




    It's the adult. I could completely understand if he was disruptive, but he goes utterly silent when overwhelmed. So he's not even disrupting anyone. And if they had just opened the door that first day, he would have come out to me in the hall for a couple of minutes, then he would have been fine for the rest of the class.
  • mem82
    by mem82
    October 5, 2012 at 9:34 AM

    Maybe you need to get the other director for a witness and then lay out the plan of action for dealing with your son, again with the teacher? Explain that they don't need to force anything with him, to open the door or come get you, etc.

    Quoting KickButtMama:

    Quoting mem82:

    I would be annoyed with the gossiping. Is the teen girls the ones having an issue with him? Or is this an adult?




    It's the adult. I could completely understand if he was disruptive, but he goes utterly silent when overwhelmed. So he's not even disrupting anyone. And if they had just opened the door that first day, he would have come out to me in the hall for a couple of minutes, then he would have been fine for the rest of the class.


  • oredeb
    by oredeb
    October 5, 2012 at 12:03 PM

     i think he should stick with the class, getting over these bumps, keep moving ahead for him,

    does the teacher even want him in the class? any problem with that?

     

  • KrissyKC
    October 5, 2012 at 1:24 PM

    I would definately confront the whole talking to another parent.   I wouldn't be beligerent (which I'm not suggesting you are)... but I would firmly let them know that gossip in this area of your son's life is just NOT acceptable.   I would go so far as to tell them that if they cannot keep the topic of your son professional and between only the parties involved, that they need to consider refunding your money and you will take him elsewhere.


  • kirbymom
    October 5, 2012 at 2:02 PM


    Quoting KickButtMama:

    Quoting mem82:

    I would be annoyed with the gossiping. Is the teen girls the ones having an issue with him? Or is this an adult?




    It's the adult. I could completely understand if he was disruptive, but he goes utterly silent when overwhelmed. So he's not even disrupting anyone. And if they had just opened the door that first day, he would have come out to me in the hall for a couple of minutes, then he would have been fine for the rest of the class.

    I think I would have a face to face talk with both the adult teacher and the teen helper. I would ask them to tell me to my face what happened while my son was there and could either agree with the story or dis-agree with the story. That way you can gauge the expression of everyone involved and see where the perception of views lay. Then I would go over your procedure of how to handle any given situation that might arise with your son and have them repeat it back to you so you know they know what is expected of them. Because  you pay for that class, is all the more reason your son should be looked after more closely. 

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