Thursday, October 28, 2010

Here comes the pain

Know how a teacher figures out when report cards were mailed out?  When the smiles turn to grimaces, and the e-mails and phone calls start pouring in.

So far I’ve had only one phone call, one e-mail, and one student meeting regarding grades.  All went fairly as planned and followed the typical outline:

-Student or parents are shocked that the grade is so low.

-Student or parents insist that this is the first time the student as ever had a grade that low.

-Student or parents are told why the student has a poor grade.

-Student or parents ask for make-up work.

-Student or parents get slightly irritated when they realize that I won’t budge on make-up work, or budge on insisting that students actually produce excellent work for an A.

-Students or parents pause to read information, and if together, will look at each other wondering what the next step will be.

So far, the next step has been the insistence of working better, which is the right way to go.  I’ve made the class pretty transparent in its ability to but the responsibility in the hands of the student.  We are after all, talking about Seniors in high school.  The problems come when AP parents have the attitude that my class is not going to come between their child and Stanford.  Senior year here at Ukiah High School is focused much more on fun than rigor.  What is not acknowledged is that students have to make choices, and the best figure out how to manage those choices in the most efficient manner.  Guess what, the best usually go to Stanford and I never have meetings with their parents.

Senior teachers have an interesting task, especially when dealing with students that have college in mind.  What happens if your class is the only class that gives the mediocre grade?  What about the really bad grade?  Do you look at the greater picture of their 12 year progress, or does a student that slacks off their last semester take the “D”, thus possibly taking them out of higher end college admissions? 

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