Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Mad Dash

This is the giddy time of year. The end is in sight, the kids are absolutely nuts, and I'm crazy trying to get all my work done.

On Wednesday, more than two full weeks before the end of school, I have to report who is earning an A or A- (for our valedictorian pool) and who is earning an F. Every year I chafe at this. Most of my straight A students can be counted on to continue with the A's, but not all. I have one student who has a B. Not a B+, mind you, an 86% B. She's not going to get an A this time. And, of course, I have to be the one to cause her not to be one of the special valedictorian's that get to sit on the stage with the other honored kids.

I know, I know, she earned it, I didn't give it to her, but try telling that to her parents. It's not her fault, it's my fault, for not giving her enough time, enough make-up work, whatever.

Then there's the three students I have that are flunking. Are they for sure flunking? Well, no. Not for sure. They are are hovering at the 55% mark. Which means they are flunking now, but could conceivably pull off a D- or even a D by the end of the term. Can they pull it off by Wednesday? No.

therein lies my frustration. If I had a student with a 35%, there'd be no question, but I don't have students that are doing that badly any more. That is something that has changed.

Several years ago, when I started teaching, I had more students that flunked, and with much worse percentages. I think there has been an improvement in parental expectation (and of course our support for those kids at school). I'm available before school, after school, during lunch... we have a mandatory Homework "club" for students missing work, and any student earning a D or an F in a core subject automatically is put into a zero or seventh period tutorial class so they can get extra help with their grade.

I digress.

A friend of mine in another district tells me that students must earn at least a C or they don't graduate.

I like that idea. However, implementing it here would be next to impossible. It's got to be a group effort. I get called into Mr. Principal's office every term I have even one student who is flunking. And every time I have to explain myself, what I did to help this child, and all the measures I took. Can you imagine the pressure if all kids needed at least a C?

Teachers do have a responsibility to their students, they need to use every avenue possible to reach the child's needs.

But.

We can't be held responsible for it all. What everyone but teachers keep ignoring is that there are other players involved. If a kid simply doesn't want to do the work, and he or she doesn't do the work, our hands are tied. If parents don't support the education of their children, if they don't even do something as simple as checking their homework each night, respond with "Well, I trust him when he says he did it already." after they've received the poor grade progress report, and that's even when I actually call and talk to a human being, when parents can't be bothered,
we, as teachers are getting the full brunt of the blame.

The state threatens to come in and take over "under performing" schools. They don't know what the hell to do, but they can't come in and "take over" underperforming parents.

I'm really glad the school year is almost over. It's time.

2 comments:

Thoughts from FL said...

Love your blog! I don't know how you do it, but you're doing a great job! I have one 12 year old in my home and I can't imagine dealing with much more than that on daily basis!

"Ms. Cornelius" said...

I had one of those principals too. "What interventions have you done? Can't you do ANYTHING else?" blah blah blah.

I finally said to him, politely, "What difference does the grade make, since he's going to be promoted anyway? Even though he's flunking ALL his subjects?"

That bought me a reprieve.