Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Is it just me? Tell me please.

I hate school. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it...and I don't want to go!!!

Okay, I think that it might be out of my system now. God forbid my children ever catch on to my REAL feelings about their school. Mommies, if you would please be so kind as to help me out and share your thoughts with me about the following story, it would be appreciated.

Last week, my son went to his English class where he sat down and took that day's quiz, when they turn in the daily quiz, they are also supposed to turn in their homework, but my son heard his teacher say that they were going to check homework in class, so he kept it (the homework, not the quiz) at his desk. He then picked up his book and started reading as most of the other kids were still working on the quiz. Perhaps if he had stayed on task and resisted the impulse to amuse himself, he might have noticed that the rest of the class handed their homework in. When the teacher started passing the homework back to the students to check, he and another student admitted that they had kept their homework. She gave them the option of doing cafeteria duty and getting their work graded or taking a zero. My son had no idea what cafeteria duty was, and was embarrassed that the rest of the class was looking at him, waiting for him to decide, so he mumbled that he would just take a zero on the assignment. The other child chose cafeteria duty.

I was pretty unhappy about the whole incident. Truth be told, I feel like not handing in the homework was more of a conduct issue, he was reading, he wasn't on task, therefore she ought to have deducted points from his conduct grade and graded the assignment. I decided at the time to suck it up, tell him it was going to be okay, and to ask what cafeteria duty meant so that next time we/he would at least know.

Then, on Monday, he was supposed to hand in his Current Event extra credit with the rest of the class. He did so, but, as my printer decided to crap out this past weekend, I told him that I would send an email to his teacher providing the links to the articles and requesting that she let me know if she needed the printed articles because I would bring them by. I had actually intended to go by the library and print the articles out this weekend, but, dealing with my other son's broken arm and our plumbing issues prevented this from actually happening.

She responded to my email with this:
In the future it is BB's responsibility to tell you he needed the article. He stated to me that he didn't know he had to have the article, quite different than you not being able to print them out. I told the other student s that I would not except their current event extra credit without the article so it would not be fair to allow BB to get credit.
I was frankly insulted by her response. Maybe it is just me, but, is she accusing me of lying about why he didn't have the article?

So, when my son got home, I asked him what he told her. He told me that he told her that he didn't know if he was going to have to have the articles (as in what her response to me would be) and then he started to cry. Since I was pretty sure he wasn't PMSing I asked what the tears were all about. He went on to tell me that he doesn't want to talk to his teacher because he is afraid that she will make fun of him again in front of the class. When I asked him to please clarify, he explained to me that when the whole homework/cafeteria duty incident happened that she was not very nice about it, and when he decided to take the zero, she made a big deal about it in front of the class and that the whole class was laughing at him.

Okay, for me this took the whole thing up to another level. It is one thing to give my son a zero, but, discipline by public humiliation is really against my beliefs. I don't even discuss punishments in front of my non offending children at home. I dislike the "'re in trouble" and the "you're gonna get it, Mom's really mad" that I hear if I do. I realize that a teacher can't pull a student to the side 100% of the time, but, as she is in charge of the class, when the class is reacting to what is going on, I think it is her responsibility to put a stop to it, not egg the kids on like a mob. When I sent her a follow up email explaining what was going on, and what my son had said to me, I got this back:
It is BB's responsibility to have what is needed for an extra credit assignment. This is not something I am required to do but did to help out those students who were struggling. Last week several times in class I went over my expectations. I put the Current Event sheet up on the document camera and went over step by step what they were to do. I also stated that they must have the article attached. It was important for them to do this so I could assess their response to the article they read. One student even asked if I would be returning the article because he wanted to keep his. I explained that they would get everything back. It is also posted on the class web page. As I have already explained to all the students no extra credit current event will be accepted without the article attached.As to the homework assignment last week. It is part of their routine that they turn it in to the basket when they walk in. Many student were up putting it in the basket. I stated that they needed to turn in their homework and to be sure to put their name on it because 2 students in the morning class had forgotten to do this. All year long I have offered this opportunity to those who forget to turn it in or forget their name. Cafeteria clean up consists of helping the ladies wipe off tables, pick up trash , but mostly sweeping. It is something they can choose. Another student that day choose cafeteria clean up. He wasn't humiliated at all. It all comes down to being responsible. The rituals and routines in my class have remained the same all year. I know that this probably won't resolve the issue completely but in all honesty I feel that BB needs to be more responsible for his homework and assignments. We both know he is capable of better quality work than he has shown.

Of course I know that my son is capable of better work, but he has a lot going on at home. His Dad is now living 300+ miles away, he was used to seeing him for 11 years, but, now is lucky if he sees him for 4 days a month. He is getting a new sibling, which is the last thing he wants. He has a new sibling that is only 8 months old as it is. My son's life isn't without stress, at least as stress is perceived by an 11 year old. The punishment for not giving school his all is getting A's and B's and not straight A's, not his teacher's disdain. Then, there is my ongoing issue with cafeteria duty. I don't let my son sweep the floors at home, much less do I want him attempting to sweep up the muck from the cafeteria floor at the end of the lunch day. Ewww. I wouldn't want to do that. I also have a hard time believing that his teacher does not see that when he does work, even if the printer craps out, or he misunderstands what he is supposed to do with it, that by not giving him credit for it, she is giving him very little incentive to do much of anything.

Most of all, just because he is a kid, does not mean that he should not have his feelings respected. I was really disappointed that after pointing out to her that he was so embarrassed, that she didn't even try to talk to him about it.

I know that I am biased because this is my child I'm talking about, but, in the ten sets of teachers my school age children have had so far, my son's teachers are certainly not the first I haven't liked very much, but, they are the first I have felt the need to go to the administration to discuss. This is the first time that I feel like I've been beating my head against the wall since day one. Help me please bloggy pals.


  1. I think she's way out of line, and clearly dislikes BB. I hope that doesn't make you feel bad, because I don't mean anything against him, but I had loads of teachers dislike me as a kid and I recognize this attitude. My parents dealt with it a lot.

    Also, did she misspell "accept" in the first email? Because I would really struggle to respect her in the future if she did.

    I realize A is only in kindergarten but her teacher has been very compassionate about our family situation. It seems like that should be a requirement for people teaching grade-school kids.

    Maybe you should speak with the principal.

  2. It is NOT you.

    If you and I were sitting in one of our kitchens with coffee or tea in hand, this conversation could last for HOURS. It sounds like we have really similar experiences with our eldest boys: bright as blazes, but not enamored with school, with teachers that -- excuse me -- suck. Here's my most recent story:

    He was up later than usual one night and still had to do his math homework. He hates math, and should NOT attempt it when overly tired. So I told him I would get him up early to do it. I did this, but in the course of helping him that morning, I spilled my coffee on the bottom right corner. He was almost finished with the entire thing, so instead of making him do it over, (I was so pleased that he was doing it like a mature kid, with no histrionics or complaining), I dabbed it dry and told him to write over the area when it was totally dry.

    He DID try writing before it was dry and ripped a hole in it, but I stopped him before he did major damage, and when it was totally dry, he wrote over the affected areas.

    Fast forward to that day in class: His teacher told him, in front of the class, that his classmates should not have to grade such a messy paper. (the kids grade each others assignments.) I felt so bad for him, because it was my fault (spilling the coffee) and because this lady harps so much on him for everything, and has no clue that I was proud of him for doing the work with a positive attitude. I asked him if he told her that I was the one who spilled and that I told him how to handle it, and he said: "No, because I don't think she would believe me and I didn't want to be humiliated."

    I wanted to cry. No wonder he hates school, if his primary message is that his teacher thinks he's not trustworthy and she's going to humiliate him every chance she gets.

    I hate her.

    She goes on and on and on about how it's his responsibility to do x, y, and z, but she has NO CLUE how hard he is trying, how hard his dad and are are tyring, what he experiences at home (lots o' stress under our roof)...she just steam rolls over him every time she gets frustrated with him. No motivation there.

    I could go on forever. But I'm actually at work, sneaking this little blog-reading time, so gotta run...I will re-read and comment more later.

    You are not the problem, and you are certainly not alone!

  3. Jen, all spelling and typing errors in the excerpts are hers. I left them for a reason, namely because I know I make more errors than I ought, and that my years of dealing with numbers and not letters have taken their toll on my English skills...but, I don't teach English for a living.

    Monica, I'll look forward to hearing anything else that you want to share.

    Thank you ladies. Sometimes it is really hard for me to distinguish between my desire as a Mom to rip the offender's heart out, and when it is something that I should act on.

  4. Please keep in mind that I have no school-age children -- yet.

    She sounds like an unfair, know-it-all, dits whose grammar and spelling are very-much-bad....

    Get her. Show no mercy. If you need help with the cover-up, let me know.

    ; )

  5. I'm taking mental notes. I have no school age childred yet, t minus 5 months and counting but I was a teacher once. I had very few issues with kids and they were middle schoolers, notoriously the worst age. Teachers want to instill a sense of responsibility but like parents, they need to understand that maturity is a life long process. Kids need to be taught responsiblity through practice and grace. As frustrated as I was as a middle school teacher, I knew it was my job to help them develop into mature adults who contribute to society. Ridiculing them will just do the opposite.
    As I read your post I could feel my mom claws come out. I would feel the same way...and I would probably handle it much less appropriately. Kudos to you for showing patience.

  6. Yuck. It sounds like you need to have a sit down with the administration and teacher to discuss this situation.
    Does BB have an assignment notebook? Caleb often struggled with remembering all of the requirements of assignments for a teacher that seems like was similar to this one. We had him write down the assignment in class and she would sign it. No miscommunications.
    It helped.
    Sorry he is having to deal with all of this.