Sunday, June 04, 2006

It's always someone else's fault

I came across two anecdotes from the wacky world of edu-ma-cation that I thought I would share with you.

The first one comes from an article from the website, Common Conservative (see blogroll on right). Author Nancy Salvato describes her witnessing of a conversation between teacher and pupil(s):
Recently, I heard this conversation transpire in a classroom between a teacher and a group of students huddled around her.

Teacher: (answering student arguing with her about being in danger of failing) “Who is it hurting when you don’t turn in your assignment? Is it hurting me? No, it’s hurting you. How can I grade an assignment if it isn’t in front of me? Now all of you know that you lose 11 points a day until the assignment is turned in, but I’m going to give you a break and only take off 22 points even though all of you should be receiving Fs because it has been over five days since the due date. I’m giving all of you class time to complete and turn in your late work.”

Response from one boy in the group of students: “No, its hurting you because if all of us receive bad grades then our parents will know that you are a bad teacher because this many people shouldn’t receive such low grades and then the principal will have to fire you for doing a bad job.”

No kidding, I listened to this and the teacher didn’t respond. She had several kids around her and I’m not sure she really heard him, so many were trying to explain themselves. I did, though, and when he saw me looking at him, he said to me, “It’s true, you know.”

I did know… however, dumbstruck at his arrogance, I just looked at him in amazement.
I have only been teaching full-time for four years, and I have already lost count of the number of times I have been threatened by a student that he was going to sic his parent on me, or that that he was going to have his parents sue me; mostly for some pretty horrific behavior on my part like enforcing a homework deadline, or kicking the kid out of my class for disruptive behavior, or for being racist because the kid was black/hispanic/asian as he was missing homework or disrupting my classroom.

The second article comes from my friend George over at MimmenBlog (see blogroll on right). He describes a reality check that he had to layeth down upon one of his students:
She hands me her paper, which was due in January, on the last day of school asking if I would change her grade from a "D" to a "C". This is the first time she has submitted a paper, even though she was my student in Fall. I hesitantly oblige. Later, while reading the paper, warning bells begin chiming. I discover, after one and a half hours of research that her paper has been cut and pasted from the internet.

I hand her a folder. Inside is "her" paper and copies of the original sources (Only the introduction and conclusion were not copied. The entire paper, word for word, comes from four different internet sources). I walk away. She later catches up with me, informing me that $22,000.00, her admission to a private college, and her financial aid, is riding on this grade. My heart breaks . . . I tell her I will think about. I did. I later called her house, speaking with her father, and telling them that the grade stands. The father agrees.

My reasons:

1. I assigned the paper in September.
2. She missed the two draft deadlines (I did have forgeries of other students for the roughs as well. They were told they would receive no points for the rough, and would still have to do the paper, and that I would be watching them.)
3. I nagged her to turn in a draft, was willing to extend the due date of the draft, and offered help.
4. I extended her paper due date beyond the Fall Semester.
5. I accepted the paper in May, when it was due in January. Turns out it was not hers.

I found out from her dad that she lied to him. She told him that she had turned the paper in to me in January. When I asked about the date of her paper ( which is January she claimed she could not remember when it was due so just put that at the top - she lied to me to.)

Friday evening the mother calls. She apologizes for her family, says she is embarrased, and with tears slips in a request for me to help her daughter. Saturday afternoon, the phone message icon indicates that there is a message. I listen. It is from the student. With tears she begs for mercy, admits a mistake, and indicates that she is paying for what she did.

I still think she is missing the point. The payment for what she did is in missing school and the money. She has to pay the price for this sin. I can't pay it for her. She has not yet admitted the heinousness of what she did, which was more than just copy a few lines off the internet.

The grade stands. Wouldn't you agree?
Right up to the very end, some kids just don't get it do they?

Good Day to You, Sir


George said...

You might be ashamed of me to read my most recent post.

Darren said...

I generally just stick to my standards. Hard-nosed, yes. Consistent, yes. Cowed by a parent, no.

The kid who mentioned that the parents would know the teacher was bad? *That* kid needs a lesson. I'd love to be the one to provide it.

Elaine S. said...


I often have students threatening to tell on me. My response? Go right ahead. Just remember that I'm going to also tell them WHY I did (whatever).

Shuts 'em up fast. Especially since what I'm usually doing is getting them inside the classroom, sitting down, and getting *some* work done!

I once had a student complain to me that I wasn't telling her what to write on her worksheet, and that she was going to sic her momma on me. I looked at her, and told her she could go right ahead, 'cause I wasn't going to give her the answers any more than I already was - she was going to have to do some work for it. You should have seen the look of shock on her face!

Polski3 said...

Student Responsibility!

Doing work !


Maintaining standards !

Having high expectations !

My, Oh My, We teachers are such brutes !