Thursday, April 23, 2009

So now I suck at what I do. Brilliant.

Next week I will have my first parent conference. This student, ("Jimmy", for the sake of simplicity), is a good kid. He's personable, funny, and really bright. He's also really fucking lazy. The first week I was here he asked me every day to go get something out of his locker, and only after threatening him with detention and manual labor did he start to come to class prepared. I mean, c'mon... it's an English class and we're reading a novel. You *should* know that you're going to need the book in class.Especially since it's To Kill a Mockingbird which takes about three years to get through.

At the end of the unit, all the kids had to write a thesis paper. And by paper, I mean essay. A five paragraph essay. And we gave them everything they needed: we gave them a list of topics to choose from. We gave them a study guide which they filled out through the entire 10 weeks of reading, with room to write quotes and page numbers. We gave them a huge packet with graphic organizers to get their ideas on paper and work with them to make them cohesive. We showed them that, with a three pronged thesis, each paragraph should deal with one idea of the thesis statement. Topic sentences for each paragraph should relate directly to said thesis. Examples should support the topic sentence, which supports the thesis. We offered our advice and help; we did everything short of write the damn thing for them.

We spent what seemed like DAYS in the computer lab. And you know what happens to kids on computers.... Jimmy was no exception. Of all the students, he was one of the worst offenders of violating the "NO FUCKING INTERNET" rule. So when I got his rough draft, I was not in the least surprised to see a haphazardly slapped together paper without a thesis, correct punctuation, supporting details, and the two quotes required from the book.

He got a 2 out of 60.

I really hemmed and hawed about giving him such a low score. It's not that the kid didn't earn it. But it's such a drastic score...his grade in the class was fairly high- a B- and I didn't want to fuck that up. On the other hand, he didn't do the most basic requirements. He was online instead.

So the score stuck. He was rather surprised when he got his paper back; at least he didn't go ballistic on me, like I have seen other students do in the past. He seemed reserved, he didn't say much. I figured he would turn it around for the final draft.

Yeah, not so much. In fact, rather than making the SCREAMING corrections (like, I dunno, WRITING A THESIS STATEMENT) he hastily corrected *some* of the grammar mistakes in between getting busted on the internet and goofing off in class. He even took some things out completely rather than correcting them. And I know this because they had to turn the rough draft in with the final draft... I was really kinda pissed when I saw how little he did over the course of two days.

This was all a few weeks ago. Then suddenly, out of the blue, his father emails my co-teacher:

I’m the father of Jimmy Jones and would like to meet for an explanation of a couple of his grades. He received a grade of ‘2’ out of ‘60’ on the TKAM rough draft and a ‘1’ out of ‘60’ on the final draft. How can a grade go down after making corrections? Mrs. Spatula did the grading. Perhaps she could sit in on the session to explain this. I would like to know what in the content constituted ‘59’ points to be taken off and what was the only correct part of the paper to earn that single point. There seems to be a huge drop off in grades for a number of students in the class, beginning when Mrs. Spatula took over. This lack of consistency can be frustrating and confusing for the students. While I think his previous grades might have been too generous, I don’t understand how any student can get a ‘1’ on a written paper, that has undergone corrections.

I can meet at 3:30 or later on any weekday. Please let me know a time that would be convenient for you.

Oh boy.

"...beginning when Mrs. Spatula took over". I would like to think that this father isn't blaming ME for the class' decline in grades, but that's sure as hell what it sounds like. I want to email him back and say, "Dude. Your kid fucked off for four days when he should have been writing this paper. And it's not like we made them write it at home... he wrote in IN CLASS where at ANY point he could have either asked for help or taken it one of the NUMEROUS TIMES it was offered to him. I had been here for all of a week when I had to help said kid write this essay, and then I had to read 150 poorly written essays on the same fucking book, and you're bitching to ME about a lack of consistency and irregularities? I just show up, pal."

This is going to kill my weekend.

1 comment:

  1. Can you put me on speakerphone in your purse for this conversation?!

    It seems to me that he is not pointing out that you are purposely failing the kids, just that you grade pretty rough. As evidenced by him stating that his son's previous grades were "generous." If you know an old teacher was being "generous" with the grades, but the new teacher is failing your kid... maybe you should look at the kid's work before he turns it in.