A boy in an honors class mocked an assignment on Tuesday with his partner, then decided to declare to everyone that “this class is pointless.” I called him on it, and he wasn’t the least bit ashamed or penitent.
I called his mother and she was mortified. She apologized profusely and asked to come in to see me and have him apologize, even asking if she could sit in class with him next time. We met before school Thursday and she read him the riot act. I showed her his work from that day, which was by far the shortest, sloppiest paper from the class. I said I’d like him to do it over, and she assured me it would be done over the weekend, adding that any future work that was of substandard quality would also be revised to my liking.
After this had all been explained, I asked him if he understood. He sat silently until his mother told him to answer with, “Yes, sir.” He sullenly said, “Yes.” She told him again to be more respectful, threatening to smack him if he didn’t. He again responded with attitude, so she reached around and slapped him on the back of the head. This time he said, “Yes, sir.”
She thanked me for my effort and assured me again that he would perform better, in academics and behavior. I have no doubt that he will.
I got an email from a parent on Wednesday wanting to know why her son got a D for first quarter, saying that she doesn’t think a child who comes to school every day should get a D. She said that it wasn’t fair that he was being punished for not turning in a large assignment that he’d told her was what brought the grade down.
I wrote back that his D wasn’t based on attendance, but the quality and quantity of his work. I also noted that he had seven missing assignments for the quarter, as well as three failed tests, most of which had happened in September, so there was no surprise drop at the end of the quarter. I also explained that the assignment her son had told her about was part of the current, second quarter grade, not the first quarter at all, and therefore had no influence on the D. Finally, I added that his current grade was a low C because of new, further missing assignments and a test that he got a zero on last week because it was identical to the paper of the boy next to him.
She hasn’t written back yet.
Last week a girl came in before school to yell at me for “losing” two of her papers, which she swore she’d turned in and which still hadn’t been graded. I told her that I couldn’t give a grade to papers that I hadn’t seen, and that she should check her own locker and folders for the papers, or do them over if they were missing. She stormed out and started telling her friends right outside the door how “pissed” she was at me. I went out to tell her to knock off the disrespect; her response was to confront me and insist that I had screwed up.
She’s normally a very decent kid, so I cooled off before doing anything and decided to let this one go. Besides, after that, she acted just fine in class.
But yesterday a note was left in the counseling office from her father, saying that I was an “inefficient” teacher and that he wanted his daughter out of my class. The counselor gave me the note to handle and, shocked by the presumption of this man who had never even spoken to me, I called him this morning. I had plenty of ammo prepared: if I had a nickel for every time a kid swore up and down that they’d turned something in, but it was in their backpack or had no name on it, I could retire. The two assignments in question are both tiny and are not hurting her grade much–a far bigger problem would be the quiz last week that she slept through, or the one this week that she failed. I gave her a chance to make up the missing work. These two “lost” assignments also don’t explain why she’s failing the rest of her classes.
“I saw the note that was left in the office yesterday, and I’d like an explanation,” I said when the father answered the phone.
“What note?” he asked.
“The one you left on the counselor’s door yesterday saying that you had a problem with my class and wanted her out. It had your signature on it.”
“That dang kid stole my signature stamp!”
So we decided to schedule a meeting with everybody so she could come in and account for this desperate deception. This ought to be fun.