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Does the Teacher Expect Too Much?

Middle School Expert Advice from Connie Collins

Q: My daughter has had an outstanding academic career. She's in ninth grade now and making A's in all of her classes, except math -- she's getting a D. It is a gifted math class, and I spoke with her previous teacher to see if she had been placed correctly. She assures me that my daughter is capable of doing the work well. She does all her homework, and then does poorly on the exams. In my opinion (having tutored college-level math) it seems the teacher is expecting these students to learn too much information on their own. The test questions are not indicative of the homework questions. But of course the school administration wants to believe the problem is "my child," although when questioned pointedly, they acknowledge that her attitude, effort, etc. is good. What should I do?

A: You present a very difficult situation. You say that you have spoken to your daughter's previous math teacher, but you don't say whether that you have spoken to her present teacher -- only to the administration. As a first step I would encourage you to meet with the teacher if you haven't done so and have your daughter in the meeting. Together try to determine what the teacher and your daughter see as the problem. You have already determined what you perceive as the problem, so perhaps all of you can reach a solution.

If you cannot resolve the issue with this meeting, I suggest that you and your daughter have to make a decision as to whether she should stay in the class or if she should move into a regular math class.

Most likely you would choose neither option, but so often when we cannot change others, we make the best choice we can.

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Connie Collins, professional school counselor, worked for 35 years in public education as a teacher and counselor at the middle school and secondary levels. Collins worked daily with the parents of the students in her various schools, and has facilitated several parenting groups.

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