First up, thanks for your comments and concern. I just sent this message to GJ's principal (identifiers redacted). We'll see what comes of it:
Hello Ms. PRINCIPAL,
First off, congrats on ELEMENTARY SCHOOL's recent "Exemplary" rating. I know how hard all of the teachers and students worked to acheive this recognition.
Second, I wanted to let you know about some concerns I have about my daughter GJ's current classroom situation.
GJ has always loved going to school. She's never been one to protest getting up and heading to class. She's been blessed with caring and skilled teachers all the way from her pre-K and kindergarten experiences (at a private Montessori school) through her first year at YOUR SCHOOL in Ms. 1ST GRADE TEACHER's class. She handled last year's transition from the Montessori environment to public school quite well and was very excited to start 2nd grade.
The open house visit with Ms. 2ND GRADE TEACHER went well. She was warm and friendly and her classroom seemed bright and organized. The whole time we were there, former students were stopping by to say hi and get a hug. I was very pleased to see this and had high hopes. However, when GJ got home from her first day of school, she said she'd felt "rushed" and that Ms. 2ND GRADE TEACHER "yelled at them a lot." As I probed a bit deeper to figure out what exactly she was talking about, she said that Ms. 2ND GRADE TEACHER didn't give her "time to think" and that all of the yelling was about "Do this! Finish this up!" and that it "gave her a headache." I explained to her that different teachers have different styles and that Mrs. 2ND GRADE TEACHER's style may just take some getting used to and that, especially at the beginning of a new school year, it's important that the teacher establish their classroom schedule and routine, which may be why she's feeling rushed. She seemed to understand, but the evening ended with her having a bedtime meltdown--an extremely rare occurrence at our house. She was very upset--crying and saying she didn't want to get yelled at. And, for the first time ever, she expressed fear and anxiety about going to school.
I worried that yesterday morning would be a battle, but it wasn't. She went to school without protest, but all of the enthusiasm that had been there on the first day of school had disappeared. Yesterday evening, she said that Ms. 2ND GRADE TEACHER yelled at the class again and that, at one point, she'd walked by GJ's desk while she was working, accidentally hitting her in the back of the head and then not saying she was sorry, even though she knew she'd done it.
I am not an alarmist parent. Like most 7 year old girls, GJ can be a bit dramatic, but she's not a liar. I am very worried about how this school year--with this teacher--has started out. It's one thing if a teacher has a loud voice and is boisterous--it's another thing if s/he actually yells at the students. Yelling is simply unacceptable in a second grade learning environment. Seeing GJ's excitement about second grade so quickly extinguished by her classroom environment is very upsetting to me.
I know Mrs. 2ND GRADE TEACHER is a veteran teacher at ELEMENTARY SCHOOL. Have other parents ever expressed worry about Mrs. 2ND GRADE TEACHER's approach before? If so, what were the repercussions? Do you have any advice for me and for GJ in this situation? Do you think you and I should meet--either with Mrs. 2ND GRADE TEACHER or one-on-one?
I appreciate your quick response to this email.
If you'd care to call me, my work number is XXX-XXXX and my cell phone is XXX-XXXX.
Pine Curtain Refugee