Moms and dads are the first teachers each child knows. I am merely meant to complement their efforts, not compete with them. Tag, you’re “it!”
The mom who wrote about my “unreasonable deadline” was understanding and appreciated my clarification when I explained the extra time and attention I took for the group of students who missed out to being in school due to an extracurricular activity. The student had completed the work, so things looked good in my grade book. Check off one parent who may not have agreed with me, but we worked it out.
Now I am scratching my head after a different parent wrote me this evening because his student does not have the work to complete the writing assignment. It is not in her possession. I cannot say if it is lost at home or in her locker. She does not have what she needs to do the work. I sent it electronically (during my protected family time!) after dad asked for a suggestion on what to do. I also carbon-copied my administrator just to keep her in the loop in the event that backlash rears its head. This is the same child who felt I hurt her feelings five weeks ago. At times I feel that no good deed goes unpunished. I am simply waiting for the other shoe to drop. Just waiting. Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Tick-tock.
I gave some students who would miss school for a school-sponsored activity an assignment ahead of the rest of my students. Their due date is the same as the other “left behind” students; however, they had an extra night. Why was I challenged about the due date when I gave them extra time and pulled them during our homeroom time late last week to explain everything to them? Okay. This was unexpected. I do have to move forward with my lesson plans. I will be grading a number of papers over the next few days or so. I was caught off guard and wanted to fire back with a pointed question and observation of my own. I did not. A response will not be written until tomorrow within the twenty-four hour limit I am permitted.
I maintain a Facebook account and read posts that my friends allow on their timelines or links that appeal to me. I read a post that a parent wrote about her child getting into trouble at school. When the teacher called home, the teacher received full parental support and an encouraging email the next day.
When I have to make that unpleasant phone call about a student’s behavior choice, it is sad to say that I expect to be blasted, called a liar or worse, and ridiculed. Too often, a student goes home and tells the half of the story that makes him look good. When the teacher calls to tell the full story, she isn’t always believed.
This spoke to my heart because of a situation that happened before my recent holiday. A student was corrected for being disrespectful. When I turned my back to walk away and return the discipline log to its place, he threw a pencil at me. It hit the wall. He was asked to leave my classroom for the rest of the period. I called his parents and expected a response. He came in the next day with the same surly attitude. No email or voice mail came from either of his parents. I was at a loss for words. He has never apologized to me, and I suspect that he probably won’t unless his parents encourage repentance in actions and words. My trust has been broken because I have never encountered what felt like a physical attack on my person before in my career. Some cowards have probably shredded my reputation on those teacher rating websites I won’t deign to visit. I can’t win them all over. I can be respectful and professional. I can correct abhorrent behavior appropriately.
As a parent, I know my son, and I know that he is not a perfect person. He will make mistakes. I want to hear what he has to say for himself and see that he repents. I want the teacher to give him another chance to redeem himself. I appreciate it when that happens. He has to earn back the good graces and favor one step at a time.
Let me get this straight.
1. I owe you, my student, a good grade even when you don’t turn in your work on time. Or even turn it in at all. I owe you the right to gossip on your electronic device in class whenever you feel it is appropriate. Oh, yeah, it’s also okay to talk during class because what I am saying or teaching isn’t important in the real world and certainly doesn’t apply to you.
2. I owe you perfect attendance when you arrive tardy to class or don’t bother to show up the day before a school holiday. How could I possibly have scheduled a test or quiz on that day? What was I thinking? Isn’t it party time?
3. I owe you my undivided attention on weekends and after hours on electronic communications because your parents practice bullying via email. I owe you sleepless nights before hostile parent conferences in which your parents believe I will lie to them about you and your actions or inaction. I also owe you the migraine episodes that are stress-related because you won’t accept any responsibility for your actions. I think I’ll even take the state-mandated tests for you and save you the trouble.
4. I owe you my kidney stones because I cannot trust you to simply behave yourselves in the hallways as the classes change; I cannot go to the bathroom in peace because my eyes must constantly be focused on you. I owe you copies of my notes, preferential seating (all fourteen of you in one class!), and extra time on assignments.
5. I owe you my out-of-this-world copy quota because you can’t be bothered to keep up with the first three copies I gave you. If I don’t give you that copy with three words filled in on the notes, then I hear about it. LOUDLY.
6. I owe you my bad back and dwindling supplies because you can’t pick up after yourself or bring your own pencils, or notebook paper, or reading material, or homework, or good manners. I have had to pick up used tissues, scrape gum, and toss trash because it was an imposition on your precious time.
7. I owe you all of these things? Hmm. . . I also owe you my bad reputation as “the mean teacher” because I ask you to behave like ladies and gentlemen, and you despise correction of any sort. I guess I will owe some of you three squares and an orange jumpsuit because listening to me tell you right from wrong is nonsense. Why should telling a member of the law enforcement the truth be any different? It’s just too much effort to do the right thing the first time and to be honest when you’ve erred.
I don’t owe you these things. I do what I love and usually love what I do. It is individuals who make poor choices and wreak havoc on the populace who cause the greatest problems. Their narcissistic focus on the short-term eventually catches up with them. I, however, don’t want to see the rotten fruits of their labors. Ciao.
I just learned about Screencast-O-Matic and made two broadcasts. It was kind of interesting to hear my own voice as I explained an assignment. We are encouraged to implement the new stuff with our kids to help them learn more. I am a lifetime learner, so there will always be something new to try. I maintain a blog for my students and parents to keep up with my class. I have a Twitter account for my classroom and one for my personal use. They are not connected. I’ve made a couple of Prezi presentations. I utilize email and text messages to keep folks updated and just added a Google-based calendar to my student blog site. I promise I do sleep at night; however, it’s kind of fun to hear someone say that your creation was cool. Well, I guess I’d better go grade some tests. They are on paper and I must grade them by hand. I actually don’t mind at all. Good night, and sweet dreams!
I maintain a blog for my students, and I email their parents about upcoming assignments and projects as soon as I can. I may not always give a specific due date, but I try to give plenty of time for the work to be completed. I even set up a system on Remind101.com to send a text message blast to the kids and any parents who sign up. It’s helpful.
Whenever I email a parent, or a parent emails me about his or her child, I add it to a folder in my mail inbox. I have a folder for each class period, and I save items for future reference when I hear the refrain “You didn’t tell us about this.” It saves me a great deal of grief, and it keeps me and my students honest.