Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Yes, Mom, You Didn't Get an A


Another helicopter mother. One who doesn't work, and apparently has nothing better to do than sit and email us all day long. She seems to pick at least one of us a week to torment, then calls guidance and complains about us in long drawn out phone calls.

Her son, however, is a delight. He's a small boy, who is absent a lot due to asthma (which probably wouldn't be so severe if Mom wasn't a chain smoker). He's smart as a whip, even with his absences. But his mother is still doing his homework.

And boy, does she get pissed when she doesn't get a perfect score.

Her son, Tiny Tim Boy, got a 10 out of 20 on his vocabulary cards because they were incomplete. He also got a 7 out of 10 as his homework was incomplete as well. I suspected, based on the fact that his vocabulary cards were typed and glued onto index cards, and the fact that his written homework looked nothing like his writing, that Mom did it. His math teacher from last year informed me earlier that she tended to do that. Which is weird as this kid doesn't need her help.

So, I get an email...why did he only get 7 out of 10?

And another email...why did he only get 10 out of 20? She remembered counting his cards, rubber banding them together, and making sure they were in his binder. (And why wasn't he doing this?)

And another email...why did I take half off when all that was missing on his vocabulary cards was the picture? And how can I expect the kids to draw pictures of science words?

And yet another dare I fail a kid with a 50% when they don't draw pictures. If that was the way I was going to grade, why bother to do the work at all? Drawing pictures is stupid.

And so forth and so on.

So, I emailed The Principal, and let her know that I hadn't responded, but I told her what I wanted to say. She replied, "go ahead, and you might want to add that a 50% is easier to recover from than a zero for an incomplete."

And then those magic words "I've got your back. Make sure you copy me so she knows that I'm in the loop."

I love my Principal.

So...I responded with my points...

1. Usually once a student earns an incomplete, they start doing their work correctly.
2. A 50% is easier to recover from. I suppose I could give a zero, but that's a bit harsh.
3. There's this intrinsic thing about doing a good job. I would think having pride in your work and doing it right is more important than a 20 point assignment.
4. The purpose of the vocabulary cards, which may, at most, equal 100 points out of about a 1000 each grading period, is not so much as to get the 20 point grade, but to use as a study tool so the child earns 100% on a vocabulary test.
5. Many of our standards have the word "recognize" in them and emphasize the importance of pictures. Besides, people learn new language by visual associations. Many kids get quite creative when it comes to pictures to help them learn vocabulary.

I hit send this afternoon, copying The Principal.

Haven't heard from her and frankly, don't care.

Because if she wants to go to the principal and change teams because I'm not "fair", the Principal is going to tell her that all three seventh grade science teachers have the same assignments and grade the same no matter how well SHE does on her work, she's going to get the same grade.

Maybe she'd be better off if her kid did his own work?


Darren said...

I've worked where administration supported teachers, and I've worked where it didn't.

Support is better.

Welcome... said...

Glad to hear you have the same parents in your part of the US. I guess they didn't know that it is best practice to help kids connect and visualize. Grades are more important than learning.

Melissa B. said...

Don't the parents know that they've already completed middle and high school? They've earned their diplomas, so they should give their kids the chance to earn one, too--independently!

Margaret English said...

Surely the mother needs to get a hobby or, even better, a job.

Maybe she could spend her free time creating a "State The Bloddy Obvious Award" for Darren.

Sarah said...

Such a widespread problem.

I'm glad you link vocabulary to pictures - I do this quite a bit in Spanish class. It is so effective! A brain-friendly learning strategy. Yay!

Mister Teacher said...

The mom's just upset that some pre-teener is scoreboarding her in your gradebook... said...

Be careful what you say about those stay at home moms. I had one who attacked me, via my blog, from way across the country. She thought that anyone who didn't agree with her was disparaging all SAHMs. May be.

Mrs. Bluebird said...

Maybe I have a different interpretation of SAHM than most - I see a typical SAHM as someone who can afford to stay home as she has a spouse making a large income and can afford to do so. The mothers I see who don't work do so because they tend to be on public assistance. Since over 50% of my students are on free and reduced lunch, that's actually a huge chunk of my population.

Darren said...

An award? Me? This is all so unexpected! I'd like to thank my 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Barton, and....

Happy Elf Mom (Christine) said...

Ms. Bluebird, I'm a SAHM but we don't have a large income. Nor are we on ANY kind of public assistance. I just think it's important to be home to raise children properly. This gives me time so I can email teachers all day and whine about my kid's grade.

OK, jk on that last part. But I know the kind you're talking about even as a Sunday school teacher. One parent said her kid was allowed to jump off the tops of the slide and over bolted-in benches so her kid could be "creative." Yeah, well, when I'm in charge, I don't want your fifth-grader's "creativity" to knock down the first graders nearby. I guess I'm a jerk that way, but I about got nattered to death. It's got to wear you down having to explain every little thing constantly.