Tuesday, October 20, 2009

It's Gnomes, I Tell You...Or Maybe Elves

No, I haven't dropped off the face of the Earth.

Actually it was Fall Break (YIPPPEEE!)which was wonderful, but then coming back is just, well, a bit of a let down. See, I had to finalize grades for report cards which go out on Friday. And, out of 97 kids, 50 passed.

Yes, nearly 50% failed science. Amazing. However, I'm not alone. All the other 7th grade teachers had similar results. These kids just won't turn in work. If it's anything that leaves the room - homework, class work that isn't finished, a model, a project, anything - it will not be turned in.

I had one student, Elf Boy, who's a small kid, really sweet, and according to his records, is smart as a whip. But he's failing every single stinking class because he won't turn in work. His mother, whom I've emailed, called, you name it, is kind of vague about things like getting him into an after school tutoring program ("Well, uh, I don't know, maybe it would help," and comments like, "Oh, I only check my email about once a month, or so.") In any case, Mrs. Band is having fits because he's a good band kid and parents claim that they're going to pull him out of band if he doesn't bring his grades up.

As an aside, I don't believe that for a minute. They won't do a thing to help bring his grades up - meet with teachers, check grades on PowerSchool, check agendas - so I'm guessing this is some idle threat. So far, that's exactly what it is. No parent down in guidance demanding that Elf Boy quit band. In fact, what we're hearing is a giant bit of nothing. Parents aren't telling Mrs. Band this, Elf Boy is telling Mrs. Band that parents are telling him this. It's just bizarre.

In any case, I've spent a few of my free planning periods trying to get Elf Boy caught up on some of the larger assignments, which he finally did, but it wasn't enough to earn him anywhere close to passing. I did get to talk to him a few times about what happens to all the work that he claims to have done, but never turned in.

"I honestly do all of my work," he said to me. "But it disappears."

"Do you put it in your binder in the homework sections?" I ask him as we have the kids set up on a program similar to AVID where The Binder Holds All.

"No, not everything. A lot of it like my cell model I put on my dresser before I go to bed."

"And it's not there in the morning?" I ask him.

"No, every morning when I wake up everything I've put there is gone." His big round eyes are looking at me with dead seriousness at this point.

"Gone?" I ask.

"Gone," he confirms. "Every day."

"Without fail?"

He nods his head.

"So who's taking it?" I ask him as the stares at me. I'm thinking I'm going to hear a story now about Evil Sibling who's destroying his life by stealing all his work.

"I think it's gnomes," he says.

He is serious.

"Or maybe elves," he responds. "I'm not quite sure which."

"Have you considered an Orc?" I ask, the Sarcastic Bird taking flight.

"No, I don't think it's an Orc," he answers. "I'm thinking it's elves."

Oh. Good. Gracious.


Dragonrider said...

Oh my! Now I know what is happening to all that missing work! Those gnomes have infiltrated CA.

What is it with students? We have over 50% failing in the majority of our classes also. But somehow, it's the teacher's fault cause it's THEIR job. Actually had a parent tell us to make their child clean the toilets if they misbehave. Middle School. If only...

Ms Characterized said...

It's probably the same elf who mislaid my cell phone.

I don't envy you this situation!

CCCS Photo Class said...

Another one wondering what it is with students. Granted, it's been a long time, but my junior high and HS teachers used to post grades, and I don't remember 50% of my class failing. I never even had those numbers when I first started teaching... and now it seems to be unsurprising with me as well as a number of teachers I know.

What gives, folks?

Dan Edwards said...

I KNOW what you'all are experiencing.....we get such "results" too.

I hold "make up" sessions afterschool to have students make up missing homework.

Just an idea: Tiered levels:

Students can earn a C for quality work completed in class.

Students can earn a B for quality work completed in class and for turning in some quality homework.

Students can earn an A for doing everything demonstrating the usual effort and quality for earning an A grade.

Anyhow, something to think about?

The Vegas Art Guy said...

I have a class where 14 if the 35 are failing 9th grade English so I feel your pain.