I have the utmost respect for the teaching profession.
I feel that teachers should be
at the top of the economic pay scale. It is my opinion that their monitary compansation should exceed that of sports figures, actors, lawyers or even doctors.These are the people in charge of directing the future. Our kids are
the future. And our teachers are developing the minds of tomorrow.
My mother was a teacher. For 45 years.
She loved her job. And her 'kids' adored her in return. She took her profession seriously. She was an instrument of change for many of her students. She cared. She cared about the future
of these kids. She cared enough to follow through with each and every student to make sure they had the tools available to succeed. And when they did, that was her reward. She felt proud.
There are good teachers, like my mom, and there are...well, not so good teachers
I normally don't bitch....much
. Or at least I try not to. I'm a tolerant person and don't get ruffled too easily. I accept quite a bit before going postal. But I'm pushed to my limit when it comes to ignorance. All ignorance.
But especially when the ignorant person is one educating my
My daughter has been very fortunate thus far to have what is adding up to an excellent education. She went through the Montessori program from pre
-primary through third grade, which I loved. Last year we switched schools to a more traditional form of education.
We enrolled in a Catholic School.
For the most part, this school has been great. It's in close proximity to our home and has come highly recommended. The majority of teachers are on par with my mom. A few might even be better, if that's possible. Her teacher in 4th
grade was one of those. She was trained Montessori, so my daughters transition from 'feel good, warm fuzzy'
Montessori to a 'desk and uniform'
school was easy. During one of the teacher/parent conferences she said, "Your daughter gets
it. Many of these other children just look at me. They don't want to know how
to get to the answer,
they just want the answer to memorize so they can score well on the test."
The school is signed up with Edline, an online site
that keeps the parents informed of their childrens scores and progress. Many of the teachers don't always keep the information current with assignments and such, so I got out of the habit of checking it on a regular basis. I trusted that if anything were amiss, I'd be informed.
The school has a homework policy that if a student misses two assignments in one week, you are required to attend 'homework lab'. It's a detention of sorts. We lovingly call it 'the hoozegow
'. Boo has recieved a couple of homework labs. For stupid mistakes like forgetting to bring her textbook to class. I asked "Why?", just carry it with you. "But it's SO HEAVY
...." she whined.
But rules is rules and off to the hoozegow
you go. For four days. For each offense. Omitting Fridays, of course. No teacher wants to stay after school on a Friday.
actually had my vote. Instead of coming home with a couple hours of homework, she got it completed at school. I like it. It frees me from having to hover making sure her work's done. She
likes it as well, sort of. Since she was focused and got her work done at school, it allows her to be able to play with friends or watch TV until dinner instead of sitting at the table with me helicoptering above.
I thought it time to check Edline
the other day. I hadn't been on in awhile and I knew that Science has been a challenge this year. The teacher is a challenge. She gives time consuming projects and grades hard. Bear works deligently on them, but two in a row have resulted in not so great scores. I was pleased that she aced the last one. I have an idea that Boo's never going to be a scientist, she's far too right brain. I see the effort she puts in to her work, so I'm not too bent out of shape about her overall score. A recent project handed in required them to make a model made up 'creature'along with a paper describing it. Its environment, its symbiotic relationships, its predators, etc. It was to be written in a letter form like one you'd write to a friend. I thought she did a great job. I looked over the checklist and she touched on each point that was to be addressed.
She got a D-.
Even with the subpar grade the teacher attached a note asking, "I love it! May I keep your creature?"
Um. "Well sure.", I thought," Perhaps you can give her another ten points on her score and then
you can keep it."
I scrolled down through Bear's classes and learned that she was failing math.
What? Failing? No possible way. Fractions and decimals are the fare du jour
. She understands them quite well. Her test scores have been high. Her homework scores, however, are not.
I saw a missing assignment that received 0 points of a possible 100. And then about a week later another 0 of 100. Followed by another one, and another and another and another. 700 total points were completely missing from her grade.
My knee jerk reaction? "Boo! What the *%#@!!"
But of course,
as a good mom, I didn't say that
...exactly. What I did
say was, "Boo? Is this right
"Is what right Mommy?"
"This score. Is this right? Where's the Simple Solution problem score?"
"Which?", she replied. "Oh that. I didn't get it, plus I didn't have to do it."
Homework assignments not given or that don't have to be done sounds eerily similar to 'the dog ate my homework'.
Our school has the children in 5th grade changing classes every period. They have hall lockers like in high school where they store their books. And like in high school it is their responsibility to make sure to bring all materials needed to each class. They have 3 minutes between classes. This has been the source of some of our hoozegow issues. Bear will show up minus a book, or a workbook. Remember, we are talking about 10 and 11 year olds.
One of my friends daughter doesn't use her locker for anything except her coat. She carries everything in her backpack. Everything.
She is too afraid to not have the materials needed at any given time, so it stays with her. Not an entirely bad idea,
per se, except that her backpack now weighs 45 pounds. Lucy only weighs 82 pounds. Her grandfather even picked it up to move while visiting and said, "What's this? Her backpack? I was in WWII and our knappsacks didn't weigh this much!"
This has been a point of heated conversation when us moms get together for coffee. We are searching for a solution. Not only do I see a future with our kids having serious back problems, but instead of teaching them responsibility, I believe it is teaching them anxiety
. They will have enough of that as they get older. I thought of rolling backpacks, but the school does not allow them.
So why exactly is Bear missing the same assignment week after week? While pondering this I start to get a little angry. At what point does her teacher, when imputing zeros instead of any other score, contact the parent? Or the student about the missing assignments!?
does a teacher let a 5th
grader continue down the path of failing
without making some sort of attempt to correct it? What kind of pleasure is she getting from failing a child
It's not like I'm unavailable. It's pretty easy to reach me. We filled out forms with every possible forms of contact at the beginning of the school year. From cell phone, to house phone, to e-mail. Even twitter. You want to get word to me? NO problem. Heck. Why not go the old fashioned way and just send a note home.
I sent an e-mail to the teacher. It wan't nasty
...it was actually very nice. A 'what can we do about this- there seems to be a breakdown- may I have the problems assigned so she can do the work whether she gets credit for it or not'
Nothing. No response.
So I called the principal. She was flabergasted
. "We don't run things this way here. I'll get to the bottom of it." 12 days later, we had a meeting. All of Boo's
teachers showed up to the conference room.
And yes, we got to the bottom of it.
Surprisingly, the math teacher pushed over an ammended update from her gradebook. She removed all of the missing scores which then gave my daughter a pretty good grade. She went from failing to an A-. I didn't ask her to do it. She did it on her own. Me thinks that she realized she dropped the ball. You don't, as a teacher, not address a glaring problem that has been happening since January.
It was at this meeting that over two weeks since my inquiry
did I finally get the missing assignments I'd asked for. It turns out that the missing assignments are work that Boo has done already. They do a page of Simple Solutions math each evening. Some weeks the teacher assigns 5 problems from the Simple Solutions book that some students got wrong or had questions about. They are to do this assignment on a separate peice
of paper, show the question, the answer and the work how they got the answer.
I went back and looked through her book and corresponding problems assigned. Bear had completed each the first time successfully. She was confused and thought since her first answers were correct, that she didn't have to complete this assignment. It would be redundant. Her deduction came from instructions given for test scores. In this same class you are allowed to complete incorrect answers from a test and hand it in for extra credit. But ONLY
if you scored less than 74%...otherwise you can't turn it in. It's not accepted as credited work. So since hers were correct, the first time, she didn't do them. And in turn got zeros.
Prior to this conference, I'd never met her math teacher. The last set of teacher conferences they sent word that there was no reason for her father or I to attend. There was nothing to discuss. It was all bubbles and unicorns. And no offense to this particular teacher, but during the meeting she never looked me in the eye. Her gaze was always over to the left. Or over my shoulder. Never in the eye.
Plus she fidgeted.
She's young. She's doesn't have children. She's unmarried. She probably just doesn't understand or have the experience. It's okay. At least now I know what to expect. And what to look for.
I had a teacher in high school that I thought had it out for me.
Miss Steel was my trigonometry teacher. I had her junior year in 5th
period was split in to 4 sections. 5a, 5b, 5c, and 5d. I had trig 5a, lunch 5b and c, and then back to class 5d. Ineveitably
, I would be coming down the hall, steps away from the classroom door when the bell would ring. Miss Steel would deliberately slowly close the door just as I got there.
And wouldn't let me in.
I would stand there defiantly in the hall, looking into the classroom until the hall monitor made me leave...but I hated Miss Steel for this.
Even so, I got an A.
I asked her at the end of the year, "Why do you hate me so?"
"I don't hate you, Nancy. I just expect more from you."
And so it goes.
Boos' teacher knowing she can do the work, expects more from her.
And more she is going to get.
She is Boo's
Miss Steel. Boo will have her as her math teacher next year as well, so we're on track with her expectations now.
But a phone call would've been nice. Or a note. Or an e-mail. Or a tweet.
I'd have loved to be a fly in the principals office when she called the math teacher in to explain where the communication breakdown was with Bear. That would have the makings of a classic priceless Master Card commercial.
I've learned. I check Edline everyday.
Boo's learned. She double checks every assignment now.
And I'm sure that the math teacher has learned something as well. Hopefully.
Now, onto the next predicament. What's up with these backpacks....