Wednesday, April 19, 2006

it gets worse


This is not the best time of year for me. Quarter progress reports went out last week, and now I'm getting all the calls. I sent home mid quarter progress reports for any students missing work or earning low grades, I called home after that; sixteen phone calls in one day, just to make sure parents knew what was going on, yet some folks are still shocked that their little Tommy or Mary isn't getting an A+.

I got a phone message yesterday from a mother that was very upset that her daughter had earned a B+ from me. She has "never earned anything lower than an A in all her time her at Unnamed Junior High School," and wanted to know what was going on. Her daughter said she had turned in all her work, and was "very upset" about all this.

Okay, so I go back into my grade book, and see the young lady has a couple of large homework assignments missing, and that she's earned a few B's on vocab and chapter quizzes. In the last week, since the report cards went out, her grade has gone up to an A-. I know this girl, and I'm sure she'll earn an A in class, but hasn't so far.

So, I call the mom back, who doesn't answer, and leave a message stating the situation. I come in this morning, and there's another message from Mrs. My-Daughter-Only-Gets-A's:

"Ms. JHS Teacher, I spoke with my daughter and she says she has turned everything in. I believe her. You must have made a mistake. She says she showed it to you and I'm thinking you must have forgotten to write it down. I'm very disturbed about this situation. If she earned an A, it should be an A, and you shouldn't make mistakes like this. It's very upsetting to my daughter."

Now, how upsetting do you think this really is to the girl? No pressure, right? Shit.

This mother, with whom I've not had any conversations with at any point at all this year, is basically calling me a liar, because she can't handle the fact that her daughter wasn't 100% responsible for herself. Notice she never mentioned the B grades earned on the quizzes.

This is the kind of parent that causes ulcers in 16-year-olds.

So, I had to go and dig out this girl's notebook, and figure out if she had completed the missing work. She had. However, she had not come to me and shown me the work. Students know they need to come and show me work on their own time, while I'm at the computer, so I can change the grade right in front of them.

Personal responsibility is something I'm trying to instill in my students. I'm not teaching it to them, nor am I preparing them for high school if I run after them for every missing piece of homework.

So, I have to call Mama back again today. I have to calm down a little bit before I talk to her; I'm so irritated right now I could spit. Gosh, I hope I actually speak to her. It might not come to anything, but I want her to tell me, not my machine, that I'm not telling the truth, or that it must be my fault that her little darling didn't have a perfect grade.


Polski3 said...

hee hee. I know exactly what you're going through. I recently sent out grade updates to all 165 or so students. Result - maybe five phone calls and a couple of parent conferences.

Agree with you, Students need to take responsibility for what work they do or don't do, and communicating with their parent(s). I love it when their parent sees the computer gradebook printout with the missing work or poor quality work highlighted, then they turn to their precious offspring and ask, "Whats THIS? You keep telling me you already did your homework?" This is usually the same situation in multiple classes...


Kirsten said...

I agree with both of you. Parents do a disservice to their child when they back them up "all" the time. These are kids we are talking about, they are going to mess up, they are going to fail, this is how they (and we) learn. Honestly, I think parents should thank a teacher for challenging their child...However, I have to admit (when thinking about a over involved unpleasant parent) kicking that B+ to an A- sure becomes enticing.

Hello, you seem like you might be interested in this (or know someone who would be). I've just started a teacher dating site and need folks to check it out and put their profile up.. It's new and there isn't a lot on there yet, but I am trying to fill the database, so if you wouldn't mind. I'm trying to connect teachers AND help children's charities at the same time. (I'm using this site to help fund a suicide prevention ski outreach program in Alaska, as well as other worthwhile programs)

The web site is

i would really appreciate it, and we do have some insentives such as: Get 10 of your educator friends to join for 2 months and we will send you $50.00. Of course the first 30 days is free. Use the web site address for any questions, thanks.. (am a teacher too) Kirsten

gsand said...

And a 7th or 8th grader whose parents back them up on everything no matter how false it is will never be able to achieve that level of responsibility, organization, and accountability that we partially assign homework for in the first place because they always have that parent to fall back on, lie to, cry to, or whine to. They will become college students whose parents call the dean to complain to and the employees who tax their coworkers by not carrying their weight. This issue is so frustrating to me on a daily basis.

"Ms. Cornelius" said...

Yes, and I once caught the PARENT lying as she said that her kid said I was lying-- too bad it was on speakerphone and everyone in the room knew she was lying, including the principal.

Got real quiet from her end until the end of the year....

sexy said...