Author Topic: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words  (Read 7803 times)

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ettiquit

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Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
« on: October 18, 2012, 09:28:22 AM »
Hi all,

I'm trying to decide what to do (if anything) about an episode that occurred in my DS's (he is 9) gym class yesterday.  He got in trouble because he was walking around swinging a piece of gym equipment around (light and plastic) and accidentally hit another kid in the hand.  Kid was totally fine, and DS apologized, but when the gym teacher addressed the issue, DS started slapping himself in the face.  He does this when he feels really stupid, and I really hate it.  It doesn't happen often anymore though, so I was a little surprised that he did this.

DS told me that the teacher told him that what he was doing was "ridiculous" and "stupid".  I made sure to clarify that the teacher called the action stupid, not DS. 

So, DS ended up being written up and has to sit out at the next gym class. 

DH and I agree that the teacher shouldn't have used the word "stupid", but DH is perfectly fine with letting it go.  I'm having a harder time being ok with this, but I also don't want to make a huge deal about it.  If I do decide to address it, does anyone have any suggestions on how to politely ask the gym teacher to drop the word "stupid" from his vocabulary when addressing his students? 

Sharnita

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Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2012, 09:35:59 AM »
As a teacher I agree that it is a bad word to use. I ill say that it is more habitual rather than thought through - kind of like your son's slapping himself in his face.  Both are inappropriate and frustrating responses to the situation but I doubt either was thought through.

I might visit the coach and explain that son does it because he feels stupid, that you personally hate it and are trying to break him of it but that the last thing that will work is to try to make him feel stupid because his doing that is a signal he already feels that way.

Twik

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Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2012, 09:44:01 AM »
Have you gotten any professional help with the slapping habit? I had something very similar, and looking back I think it would have been better to be taught how to deal more productively with the stress of not being perfect, rather than simply be told "don't do those actions".

I agree that "stupid" is a loaded word from a teacher. Does your son really grasp that it's the actions that the teacher was talking about?
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Shea

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Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2012, 09:44:29 AM »
I'm neither a parent nor a teacher, so I may be completely off base here, but I feel like this perhaps isn't something you should address. If the teacher had called your son "stupid", then I'd say it definitely needs addressing, but I think that if you write to the teacher because you're unhappy with a word he used (which, while not the best word, isn't an offensive term) you'll come off as petty and helicoptery. I'm not saying you actually are a helicopter parent, because I completely understand why you're not pleased, but I just don't think this is a hill to die on.

Make sure your son knows that you don't think he's stupid, and let him know that even though what he did was thoughtless, he apologized and it's not the end of the world. As for the slapping, I did pretty much the same thing as a child when I felt I'd done something wrong. I grew out of it when, with age, I learned to control my emotions better, and I'm sure your son will too.

My only caveat would be that if the calling things "stupid" becomes a habit with this teacher, then maybe you could consider addressing it. It doesn't seem like this is the case though, so as unpleasant as it is, I'd leave it alone.


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ettiquit

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Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2012, 09:54:40 AM »
As a teacher I agree that it is a bad word to use. I ill say that it is more habitual rather than thought through - kind of like your son's slapping himself in his face.  Both are inappropriate and frustrating responses to the situation but I doubt either was thought through.

I might visit the coach and explain that son does it because he feels stupid, that you personally hate it and are trying to break him of it but that the last thing that will work is to try to make him feel stupid because his doing that is a signal he already feels that way.

Thanks Sharnita - I was hoping for a teacher's perspective.  :)  My guess is that the teacher's reaction was instinctive. 

MorgnsGrl

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Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2012, 09:55:10 AM »
I'd be unhappy with that choice of words, too, and I think I would address it. You don't have to make a big deal about it, but I'd think you could email the gym teacher (or leave him a voice mail message) saying something like, "DS's tendency to exhibit the self-slapping behavior that you witnessed is triggered by him feeling stupid or like he did something wrong -- the best way to help extinguish the behavior is to help him believe that he is NOT stupid and to understand that everyone makes mistakes. We'd appreciate it if you could help with this by refraining from using words like stupid and ridiculous, since they make the situation worse instead of better. Thanks for your help!"

Redsoil

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Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2012, 10:02:03 AM »
I do tend to think it's a slippery slope.  How many times will you find it necessary in the coming years to speak with teachers about habits or words you feel may be less than desireable?    If you feel the need to correct every "difficult" situation, you may well lessen the impact of your requests, and your son will not learn how to manage in such circumstances.

I think it's desireable to talk it through with your son, so he understands the nuances (in time, and with coaching) of such words.  You could also discuss how he felt about the situation, and how best to handle such things in future.  Obviously, it can take time to change the habit of self-slapping, but if you help him substitute another behaviour, it may assist. 

I doubt it would be helpful to approach the teacher about this incident, and may make a bigger deal of it than needs be.
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ettiquit

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Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2012, 10:02:29 AM »
Have you gotten any professional help with the slapping habit? I had something very similar, and looking back I think it would have been better to be taught how to deal more productively with the stress of not being perfect, rather than simply be told "don't do those actions".

I agree that "stupid" is a loaded word from a teacher. Does your son really grasp that it's the actions that the teacher was talking about?

DS has seen a counselor a few times, although not specifically for the face-slapping.  What we're struggling with right now is that DS is in the gifted math program at school, and his teacher says that he's definitely exhibiting "gifted quirks".  Obviously that includes not wanting to make mistakes and getting pretty upset when he doesn't immediately grasp a new concept/idea. 

Your post is actually making me see the bigger picture here in terms of how my son reacts to things in general, so I've got some thinking to do now.  :)

DS does understand that the teacher wasn't calling him stupid, and he's not really devastated by the incident.  He gets over things pretty easily, thankfully.

fountainsoflettuce

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Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2012, 10:09:09 AM »
If your son isn't upset about it, I would forget it.  You don't want to complain and be "that" parent which might indirectly cause problems for you son. I think you should focus on his "quirks" and get appropriate counseling.  The sooner the better.

ettiquit

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Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2012, 10:09:38 AM »
I'm definitely keeping the helicoptering aspect in mind here.  When DS was in 1st grade (he's now in 4th), he did not mesh well with his teacher at all, and it seemed that I was intervening almost daily (sometimes definitely necessary, but most of the time not).  I took a HUGE step back after that year from hell, and at this point I'm responding to most of DS's complaints about getting in trouble for something he may or may not have done with "life's not fair, dude".

I am at this point gearing towards letting it go, although obviously if I get a report of it happening again, I'll have to do something.

Part of the problem was that I wondered if this is normal language for the teacher or if he was just really frustrated and let it slip. 

Outdoor Girl

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Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2012, 10:16:04 AM »
Were I your son's teacher at the time he displayed the face slapping behaviour to me, I think I would have been very taken aback and not known quite what to do and the word 'stupid' might have passed my lips.  (I'm not a teacher.)

If you want to have a meeting with the teacher, I would do it more in terms of 'This is what DS does when he is reprimanded for something that he knows was a dumb thing to do.  So in the future, if something like this happens again, please just ask DS to stop doing it (or leave him be or whatever method you use to discourage the behaviour).  I'm not asking you to avoid reprimanding him; if he deserves it, he should get the reprimand!  But I do want to avoid having him feel worse than he already does.'  Or something.
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Zilla

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Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2012, 10:16:14 AM »
This is a matter for the principal to address. I would request a meeting or email them exactly what your son told you.  Does he have a friend in class that can verify the words used?  That would be best and ask them if it's alright to use their names.   And let the principal address it. 

SPuck

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Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
« Reply #12 on: October 18, 2012, 10:23:50 AM »
How hard does your son slap himself when he does that?

Sharnita

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Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
« Reply #13 on: October 18, 2012, 10:30:26 AM »
Also from an education standpoint - gym class and gym teachers face different realities than other teachers. They frequently have larger classes and deal with activities and equiptment that have the potential for injury. Students, parents and even other educators sometimes treat them as if they are not a "real" teacher.

SuperMartianRobotGirl

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Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
« Reply #14 on: October 18, 2012, 10:56:51 AM »
It was a bad choice of words but not something I'd contact the school over if it were my kid.