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Conflict with their school teacher.

Discussion in 'Private tutors' started by Mathsteach2, Dec 20, 2009.

  1. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    This thread is becoming funnier and funnier.
    On one side we have the retired armchair general. Still fighting the good fight as it was fought a generation or two ago, yet completely oblivious of the realities on the ground. Occasionally letters are sent to newpapers and the high and mighty, giving advice and wisdom, whether it is wanted or not. I suspect, like most letters to the editor, they are read and ignored.
    On the other hand we have the increasingly rattled troops, fighting against the enemy with overwhelming odds and interference from political sources who have no idea of what it means to wage a war, yet are quite happy to give orders which lay to waste the future of whole generations. Why would they care, their children are not in the front line of the battlefield, tucked away as they are in a nice private school somewhere.
    So where does that leave things? Damned if I know! I am in a neutral country and am taking no part in this particular conflict.
    Cheerio and have a happy New Year.

     
  2. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    Hmmmmm....don't you just hate it when sensible people post to make your keen argument look silly! [​IMG]
     
  3. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    You are ridiculous.
     
  4. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    Much as I have disagreed with almost all Mathsteach2 has written Eva, name calling isn't really going to aid the argument.
     
  5. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    I have no desire to win an 'argument' as ridiculous as this one. Fill your boots if you want to.
     
  6. Mathsteach2

    Mathsteach2 Established commenter

    The point you are making I understand, minnieminx, and Eva Smith, and I am not deliberately missing it but may not have got it correctly, is that as a private tutor we should ignore or say nothing if we perceive a weakness in the child's schooling, and that it would be unprofessional to criticise a colleague. I have to disagree, and I would be down on the school like a ton of bricks if I thought my child was being disadvantaged and the school was not able to convince me that I was wrong.
    I will illustrate with another example from my experience. I teach mathematics, and prepare students, adults and teenagers, for the CSEC (Caribbean equiv. of GCSE). I am also an experienced marker (ten years) of this exam. Thousands of students across the Caribbean have learnt very little mathematics, but they have developed a beautiful handwriting presentation. This they use to copy the question from the exam paper onto the blank, lined file paper provided for their answers, in so-called essay format. For this they obviously receive no marks, and fail miserably.
    I have an adult at the moment, and after four months I still have not pursuaded her to abandon this waste of time. With my school children, I tell them that if this is what the teacher is telling them to do in school, then they are wrong! The usual reason the teacher does this is to get the whole class working, as most of them can copy-write, or penmanship as it is called in their primary schools. I advise my students to get on with the maths, and then go to their teacher to show what they have done, or better still check the answer themselves from the back of the book and move onto the next question. In this way, my tutees get through ten questions in their lesson, whilst others are still copy-writing the first question out!
    Am I being unprofessional to encourage my tutees to do this?
    I enjoyed your post, Karvol, but I do not think I am out-of-touch with the chalkface.
     
  7. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    Yes. It is unprofessional to encourage a pupil to disobey the instructions of their teacher.
    If I genuinely felt that a pupil was always and only being asked to copy out example questions, then I'd use my tutoring time to reinforce their learning by going through lots of practical examples, asking the child to put the theory they had copied down into practice. Moreover, I would suggest websites, books, worksheets and revision guides so that they could practise in this area before our next tutoring session.
    I would NEVER tell a child to disobey what their teacher asks them to do.
    I might advise a parent to seek further clarification at the next parents' evening, but I would not say this in front of the child since I think it undermines the classroom teacher, whom you do not know and whose methods you have never seen in practice.
    To be honest, I think YOUR suggestion is equally pointless. Repetitively answering questions, checking if the answer is right and then moving on? This is not how 'good' or 'outstanding' lessons are taught, and the children would certainly not be engaged and excited about their learning. This sort of lesson would receive 'inadequate' from OfSted against the new framework (and probably the old one as well). I can say this because it is part of my role in school to observe other teachers against OfSted criteria for performance management. We have an amazing maths department, and the best of them seldom rely on the type of lesson you favour.
     
  8. Mathsteach2

    Mathsteach2 Established commenter

    Thank you for your latest post, Eva Smith, which I find very interesting. However, I would like to get some real substance into it, if that is possible and permissable from Ofsted. You suggest my class, working in the way I have indicated, would only receive 'inadequate' against the new, and probably the old, criteria.
    Again, this really requires its own thread, and I would probably open it in the maths forum, but I would need some clarification. What are these new criteria? Can you give me a link so that I can read them, and will there be any indications as to how these criteria are actually applied when a teacher's lesson is being observed?
    I can assure you that my students were never bored, except when I talked too much! In a 40 minute lesson my presentations normally lasted 10 minutes, leaving 30 minutes for the students to work amongst themselves, whilst I wandered around. They may have been doing practical maths, small group work, elementary drama (maths related) or working quietly on their own as already described. They were all invariably on task, and when working individually and marking their own work, they were pleased and excited at their success, or came to me if they needed help. They all had opportunities to display their successes in front of the whole class, often through impromptu recognition and announcement by me, with claps and cheers if necessary.
    I never prepared a special lesson for inspection, whoever came saw what was going on at the time.
     
  9. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    But nothing you have posted here would suggest that the
    child was disadvantaged and our tutees are not our children. Our job as
    a tutor is to teach, not to comment on a parent's choice of school for their child, nor the quality of teaching therein. I am not in that teacher's class, with that teacher's pupils, with the strengths and weaknesses of that teacher and the school. Thereofre I cannot in honesty comment on what goes on there.
    Yet you have posted several times that you do not undermine the teacher to the child? Telling a child their teacher is wrong and that they are to disobey their teacher is appalling. What on earth should that poor child do now? Disobey and get into trouble at school, repeatedly if you had your way? Obey their teacher and anger you?
    You have also said that pupils do not have the answers in their books as teachers remove them. So the child disobeys the teacher and answers question 1 very quickly. They can then move on, not knowing if they have the right idea or not, or ask their teacher to check it. Their teacher will be furious, obviously, when they see the disobedience.Yet continuing with the work might be pointless and will only delay the inevitable telling off anyway. Imagine the feelings of that poor child in the lesson.
    You have utterly convinced me that I am quite correct to never, ever tell a child I disagree with the teaching methods of their teacher.
    From your posts the schools where you are are very very different to those in England. I can quite understand your frustration at repeatedly seeing such a low level of schooling when you have experienced a much higher one here. However if you want to improve things then get involved in the running of schools at the right level to make a difference.Simply telling your tutees and their parents that their teacher is wrong is not going to achieve nothing. As surely you have found after ten years!
     
  10. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    It's very difficult to do this as the new framework has only just been implemented. I have a paper copy of the criteria at school in my CPD file, but not one handy.
    The basic jist is that an OfSted inspection will divide your lesson into 4 or 5 areas including behaviour, teaching and learning, assessment and progress and others that I can't quite remember.
    One of the most important elements is demonstrating that children have made progress and that you have assessed their learning within a lesson: simply giving them a set of questions and seeing if they get the answer conrrect is not sufficient. Children must show exact and secure understanding of what level they are working at and how they can move on to the next level (or grade if at GCSE).
    Having had detailed training on the new framework, it is difficult to summarise it here, especially to someone who has been out of the classroom for a considerable time and may not be quite aware exactly how much things have changed: I know that my school is a different place to the one I joined 4 years ago...such are the increased pressures and demands.
    However, it does illustrate my point that you cannot know what constraints/limitations/pressures are being placed upon the school teacher of your tutees, therefore encouraging children to ignore the teacher's instructions is extremely unprofessional.
    You just simply wouldn't get away with this. We have actually be trained by an ex-OfSted inspector to be effectively a performing monkey when OfSted enter. For instance, in a lesson when children are writing their coursework, I still need to be able to show that I know how the children are progressing and more importantly that THEY know what they need to do to progress. Normally, you would wait for a child's coursework draft to be completed, mark it and give feedback for improvement. This is enough anymore, the teacher can no longer simply let the pupils 'get on with it' when OfSted are present. As a department, we've come up with tactics for this sort of situation: when extended writing it happening, for instance, OfSted would see nothing mroe than 30 pupils writing in silence...this would not fulfil many of the criteria.
     
  11. Mathsteach2

    Mathsteach2 Established commenter

    Rather than me misunderstanding your points of view, minnieminx, I think you may not be understanding mine.
    I will stay on this business of copywriting, again to keep my post reasonably short! In my tutoring sessions, I explain how to do a certain type of problem, perhaps do one example, then ask the student(s) to have a go on their own. When I check their work, I find they have started by copying out the problem verbatim. I query this, and they tell me it is what their teacher tells them to do at school.
    I explain that there are usually two reasons why the teacher asks them to do this. One, with a large class, it gets the whole class quiet (as I have explained above). Secondly, a teacher may say it will help them all to focus on the problem! A third one is that sometimes they say it helps when they come to revise - well, I have a lot to say about that, on another occasion, perhaps!
    Even with primary children, I say that they should not find this second idea reasonable, because in english comprehension (which they all do) they are not asked to write out the passage first. They are asked to read it carefully, several times if necessary. The same then with mathematics, read the problem carefully, and then attempt its solution, and by showing necessary (for them) working.
    I tell them they must not disobey their teacher, nor argue, but when it is comfortable to do so to ask the teacher, politely and with respect, that they feel it is not necessary to copy out the problem beforehand, and that they prefer to use the time to attempt its solution.
    If the teacher gets angry at that, as a parent I would try to see that the teacher was dismissed from their post!
    BTW, in your quote from me my writing was ambiguous. All my concerns as a tutor are communicated to the parent, and my sentence about the ton of bricks should have included "if I was their parent ..."!
    In the words of Karvol above, attempts to advise here in the Caribbean are not well received, especially from a white, English, retired armchair general! In any case, my whole career has been spent at the chalkface, I never was of general management material.
    Many thanks for your extended and informative post, Eva Smith. as I have said, I might pursue some of this in other threads opened in different forums.
     
  12. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    Mathsteach2 I also disagree with copying out the question, but I would never dream of telling the child what to do in class. I do say that we don't need to do it here as we will just get on and answer the question. Those old enough can work out the advantages for themselves and make their own decisions about what to do in class. However I do not comment on what their own teachers asks, nor do I suggest what they ought to do in school.
    You asked originally how other people deal with these issues. I would say I use the best methods I know in tutoring sessions and leave the pupils to work out for themsleves what strategies they can use in class. I would not ever tell a child what they should do in class if it is different to what their teacher says, nor would I suggest to parents that they challenge the teacher.
    With all the respect due to a 'retired armchair general' I do think you may be a little out of touch with what goes on in schools today, both in England and in the Caribbean. You haven't taught in Caribbean schools sodo not know first hand what the restrictions and challenges are. You also only know what goes on in schools in England from what you read on the web, the paper and hear on the news or from relatives/friends who are here. This is not the same as being in school here. Even when you were teaching here you taught in private schools, so again cannot really know what goes on in state schools. Yes, you clearly know what you believe to be good teaching and can get good results with your tutees. But that doesn't mean your ideas would translate to schoolroom teaching today.
    I think this debate, fascinating though it is, is in danger of becomming circular. You believe it is your role to find out what is wrong with your tutee's schooling and suggest that they and their parents challenge the teachers. That is fine and is your choice. I do not feel it is my role to do any such thing (nor do I think doing so would raise standards in school) and so do not. That is also fine and my choice.
     
  13. Mathsteach2

    Mathsteach2 Established commenter

    Mant thanks minnieminx for an interesting discussion. I have opened threads in mathematics and inspection forums. I hope one or two others post in this thread if they, like me, have identified weaknesses in the schooling of their tutees, and how they have dealt with it.
     
  14. Mathsteach2

    Mathsteach2 Established commenter

    I am upping this thread because I have now noticed another disagreement between myself and my tutee's teacher.
    He is working towards his 11-plus exam this year, and I have been coaching him in mathematics since last September. For me he uses a standard school exercise book, 6" by 8", 8mm lined. He uses this type in his school maths, and in CXC (GCSE equiv.) candidates are given 8mm lined file paper for their so-called essay style responses, where marks are given for working. I understand this line spacing is used in nearly all subjects, throughout their secondary schooling.
    Last September I had to be very firm with him to use these blue lines for his mathematics working, and threatened to put him onto squared paper if he did not get his digits into columns, with the correct place value. His writing was very small, all over the place, and difficult to read.
    Last monday evening in my session he came to me seeking help, and his working was tiny and nearly illegible, yet just above, and many previous pages of work for me, he had been laying out his working in the way I had asked. I asked him why the change?
    He said his teacher had told him he was writing "too large"!!! I asked him if he tried to explain to her why he was following the blue ruled lines, and he said that she refused to listen to him.
    To confirm, I would like to see his school book. As a parent I would demand to do so, and come down on the teacher like a ton of bricks.
    Any comments please? The lad has only two months to go before his 11-plus test.
    I agree this is not the time to cause conflict and confuse the boy. In the 11-plus test, they do that ridiculous business of drawing the page in half, with a plain unlined half on the right of the questions to show their working, and there are marks awarded for working even if the answer is wrong. My tutee is comfortable with that because I have counselled him through it, and told him that when he gets to his secondary school he will be back on 8mm lined paper, in preparation for his CXC at 16 years old.
     
  15. Mathsteach2

    Mathsteach2 Established commenter

    Thank you, HappyPixie, for taking the time to read my posts, and to respond. That is meant sincerely.
    I am not angry and full of hate, I have had 45 years now of very happy teaching, enjoying every moment along with my students, getting them good grades, telling them off but also making them laugh. And upsetting many lazy and incompetent teachers, and inspectors and HTs on the way. Why should I stop now when I enjoy it so much?
    I am not suggesting for a moment that you are one of those teachers I am getting at, because I just do not know. There is one thing about the UKNC I do agree with, and that is the involvement of parents in what goes on in schools. If I was a parent I would be at least ten times worse than you appear to see me, all for the sake of my child.
     
  16. bombaysapphire

    bombaysapphire Star commenter

    Lots of assumptions there Mathsteach. I have students who try to get away with not working and not listening. They tend to stop doing it in my lessons because I always follow it up. That doesn't guarantee that they wouldn't try it on when sent to a tutor for the first time.
    It sounds as if you expect congratulations for noticing and dealing with this behaviour issue. I'm sure all these teachers who you are criticising would cope similarly well with a class of 4.
     
  17. Mathsteach2

    Mathsteach2 Established commenter

    Here I go again, I am becoming a real bore! This thread gets a popularity vote because most of the posts are mine!
    Or is it because as private tutors, we do not want to do anything which will cause conflict because we may then lose our clients? Or that many of us do not have the ability to recognise the divergences in approach between ourselves and our tutees' classroom teachers? I do not know, I really would like to hear of other tutors' experiences, and I think that doing nothing is avoiding a very serious issue.
    This time I have a boy, and I am helping him prepare for his 11-plus exam next month. I was working with him on a past paper. The problem was worth 2 marks. if he does it mentally and gets the correct answer he gets the two marks. There are no half-marks, I am a marker and know the scheme. If he shows some correct working but makes a silly arithmetic mistake, he will get one mark. Its a one hour paper, and the pace is about a mark per minute (total 100).
    He began by copying out the sum (it was addition of common fractions). I said no, that wastes time, go straight for the common denominator. He said his teacher has told him to show ALL steps, so that is what he was doing. I asked if she said that copying was one of the steps, and he said "No". I asked if she had told him not to waste time copying, he said "No", her first instruction to the class was always to copy the sum before starting to work on it!!
    Yes I am making assumptions, bombaysapphire, based on my observations of so many teachers in their classrooms, the view that this particular teacher is not very good from my student's parent, and the fact that for 30 years of my career in the classroom, like you, with classes of 20 to 30 students, they all went away knowing that the responsibility for learning was theirs. If any teacher is not inculcating these values, then they need more training, or they should be advised to leave teaching, I think. All for the good of the student!
    And BTW, I do not expect congratulations, but I do get them from my parents. They thank me for introducing a little discipline into their childrens' lives. Anyway, many thanks for posting.
    ?
     
  18. Mathsteach2

    Mathsteach2 Established commenter

    Well, I suppose at least soemone could have picked me up on my rather inaccurate mathematics!
    Ithink that should have read: "therefore the pace is 60/100 marks per minute" even faster than what I first said!
     
  19. Mathsteach2

    Mathsteach2 Established commenter

    Here we go again! Rather than starting another thread I am raising this one so that we do not repeat ourselves.

    I have a Y7 boy for one-to-one mathematics. I had something ready for him, but first I asked him if there was anything from his school lessons he would like help with. He said angles, I cracked the old joke and said it's angles you want, not angels, and spelt the word on his exercise book.
    In 15 minutes Q & A with me drawing on his book, we covered the whole chapter from his text book, by checking that afterwards. In his half hour session, I then said we have time to look at some problems, and had he done any in school?

    He said no, and showed me what he had done. His teacher had spent the whole forty minute lesson drawing and writing on the board, and the class had copied his notes. The notes covered exactly the same material which was in his textbook chapter.

    I tackled two problems from a test paper at the end of his textbook (the exercises in the chapter were very elementary, mostly to be done orally in class) and I needed to spend some time with him with these to get him to look, think, analyse and tackle the problems, and then set him some easy ones for HW.

    If I was his parent, I would be in that school creating merry hell! (Well, quietly, privately and diplomatically, probably with HoD first.)
     
  20. What is the point of this thread? That you can focus your time and attention better on 1 student instead of 30? That his own teacher is inept/lazy? That the student himself is lazy/wants to be spoonfed?
    When I tutor, I ask how they have been taught it at school, and if the method is the same as mine, I help them through what they don't understand. If they teach a different method than the one I personally use (i.e. pH calculations, electrochemistry, etc where there are several methods of working out the answer), then I show and explain the method I use to work out the answer, and I let the student pick what works best for them. Hell last week a girl came up with a method I have never even seen before for working out electrochemical cells- kind of a mash between the method I showed her and her school's method. As long as it works for the student, then I don't mind.
    Finally, it is very, very easy to criticize another professional, that has to deal with 30 students who don't all necassarily want to be in the class, than one individual student whose parents are paying for extra tuition. Rather than being overly concerned with what the teacher is or isn't doing in class, how about shutting up and focussing on your own teaching and the progress of the your tutee- ever considered that if the teacher was good/effective, the tutee would not require your services in the first place?
     

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