Thursday, April 25, 2013

Teacher Probz

This cough is MURDERING ME. It was ever so kind as to wake me up with a hacking fit at 2 am this morning to mark the 2 week anniversary of us being together. Sweet, right?

I've tried everything Pinterest, God and pharmacies have to offer and still - coughing constantly and sounding like Kurt Cobain. Two sick days, an entire pack of Dayquil, garlic/lemon/honey tea, Vicks VapoRub on my feet with socks overnight, tribal dances, nothing is doing it for me.

I've missed a couple of days of school, and there's been quite the pile of grading creeping up on me. I'm trying desperately to catch up on it - and I'll succeed today. However, one email from an illogical mother has tempted me to leave it all there, collecting dust.

Let's call her son Billy. Billy has dropped the ball a bit in the last month or so. He's failed to turn in assignments, performed poorly on quizzes and done about half of the work on the assignments he did turn in. Billy is actually really smart and a fun kid. I really like him. He's just fallen into this lull that all the kids are going through right now.

"It's getting warmer. All the girls are pushing the dress code. School is almost out. I better give up this strong pattern I've been maintaining and just lose my mind completely." - every middle school student right now.

Over the past week or so, he's been realizing how bad his grade has gotten and come in to do makeup work and turn in all his late assignments. I haven't entered his updated work for 2 very valid, normal reasons:

1. I've been sick and missed 2 days of school - during which time I not only teach and plan, but also grade all the work as it comes in. I'm usually always on top of grading. Unfortunately not when I'm passed out on the couch in front of The Office with my nose leaking. Gross. Sorry.

2. If I have a stack of current work, I grade that before I grade late and makeup work. I have limited time at school to use grading, so I feel I owe that to the kids that turned stuff in on time to get their work graded. Right? If it wasn't important enough to you to get the work in on time, it isn't important enough for me to grade it the microsecond you turn it in. I feel that this is normal and reasonable.

So here's what happened this morning. I get an email from a mom listing all of the makeup and late work her son has turned in during the past week and asking me repeatedly why those scores haven't gone in yet.

I understand this. Your kid does work, or TELLS you he does work and you aren't seeing it show up online so you are concerned. Totally get this. Totally cool with these emails.

Here's what I'm not cool with:

"The reason I'm concerned with these scores not being updated is because we grounded him from his ipod until his grades improve, but the book he needs to read for English is on his ipod so until his scores go up he can't read his book for English and we are very worried about that. We really need his grades to go up so he can get his ipod back and read for English."

Ok. Hold up. I'm all for holding kids accountable for their grades. I'm all for positive/negative reinforcement. It's perfect for this age group. Pick something they love as a reward and take away their "essentials" (phones, ipods, friend time, even makeup) as punishments. More parents should do this. So I'm not really that mad.

But lets look at the facts here.

Your son CHOSE to ease up effort in my class.

You CHOSE to take his ipod as a way to punish him.

Now, it's my fault that he can't do his English homework? No. It's not. 

If you are too prideful to go back on your decision to take his ipod, that's not my fault.

If you took his ipod without knowing his book was on it, that's not my fault. 

If Billy chose to turn in assignments late that I gave them class time to complete, that's not my fault. 

Instead of trying to lean on the teacher to cover up your mistake and your kid's failure to complete assignments, why wouldn't you use this as a learning experience with your son?

"See, son? This is why its important to just stay on top of your work. Now you are waiting on someone else and someone else is responsible for your happiness. When you do what they say to do, you are in control. When you don't, you are at their mercy and can't control anything in the situation. Life. Consequences."

That's some deep shiz that you're missing out on, Billy's mom. And your email just made me really want to let that pile of late/missing work sit there for another day. But I won't. Because BILLY MUST READ. (Not sarcastic. I really want him to read.)


  1. Wait, I'm confused. Did all the libraries burn down too? Are all the bookstores closed?

    It's a shame that the only copy of the required reading is on that kid's iPod. How will the other kids read it, too?!

    I rolled my eyes so hard at this I almost fell off my chair. You're right; this is an opportunity to really teach about consequences. And also how to get a freakin REAL BOOK. Do kids even know how to turn pages anymore?

  2. Haha I like Liv's comment. Because I am pretty sure I passed a library AND a bookstore while running errands today. You should have replied to that woman's email with one line:


    Anyway, sorry about your cough :/ If you are an essential oil-user, try 2-3 drops of Breathe and 1-2 drops of lime (both oils from doTerra) in some lotion and rub it on your neck/chest. Totally works.

  3. if it's on the kid's ipod, wouldn't it be on his computer too??? i doubt it's on his ipod. just sayin'. also, i have a feeling that you would be the coolest teacher to have in middle school. ever. you're probably everybody's favorite.

    ps: hope you feel better soon!

  4. I agree with Liv and Nichole. This is ridiculous. The rest of my teaching department have been teaching for 20+ years, and here I am as an intern. Even I yearn back for the days when the parents got mad at their children for poor grades rather than blaming the teacher.