Following is a post I found on a teacher’s blog. She teaches in a high school…and I think you can "feel her pain". As frustrated as parents get with their children who don’t take school seriously, imagine how difficult is is for this teacher who truly wants to make a difference with her students. Read on…
I just realized that A) I hadn’t written in a long time and B) I desperately needed to vent. I just experienced the most frustrating series of events and desperately need to understand the "how" and the "why" of the whole thing. Perhaps through getting this all out in writing I’ll find some clarity on how exactly this has reached such a frustrating point.
The story is this: I’ve told every one of my classes, everyday, for the past 2 weeks that the assignments in my class are important, that they lose valuable points every time that they choose not to turn something in, and that nothing in my class is optional. I’ve also told them everyday for the past 4 days that the vast majority of them are failing because of sheer refusal to do the assignments that I give them or the inability take my class seriously. All of these times, they have stared at me dumbfounded.
And yet, today, when I handed out grade reports, I received an onslaught of anger and distress. Students argued, cursed, and had complete temper tantrums about their failing grades. The strangest thing was that when I walked over and pointed out the 4-6 zeros on their grade reports, they seemed unable to make the connection. Worst of all, they then said they had these things and could they turn them in now. Unfortunately, I’ve also told them every day since DAY ONE that I do not accept late work. The only way for students to make up points for grades they are unhappy with is to come in to receive one-on-one help and therefore get partial credit. Any student that has made the effort to seek help, has always seen an increase in their grades – I find a way to do that.
With all that said, I now sit here on my free period waiting for four students who were supposed to come in for help or to make up missed work. None of them are here. And for three of them, this is the third day in a row that they "forgot." Most of my students are good kids. Most of them it pains me terribly to see failing grades show up by their name in my grade book. I tell them daily I am here 3rd period, 5th period, before school for an hour and after school for an hour. No one comes. No one asks for help. And the very few that do schedule times to make up work, don’t show up.
The hard part is that I refuse to lower my standards. Truth be told, they’re not that high to begin with. The work hasn’t been that hard and there has been barely more than 30 minutes of homework, not even assigned every night. These kids are 17 & 18 years old and what I have asked them to do is closer to a 4th grade level in terms of responsibility and maybe an 8th grade level in terms of difficulty (probably lower). I will not lower my standards – they will not leave my classroom with a passing grade if they cannot do these types of tasks. In my gut, I know I have not asked too much of them. I also know that with the time I offer them to receive help and the amount I check in with each struggling student, there is simply no excuse for failing.
And yet, they are failing–in massive numbers. I am caught between what I am convinced is right for them to learn and what I am seeing is impossible for them to actually DO. If ever there were a rock and a hard place, I’m between them. I cannot watch them fail but they don’t want my help. They don’t even seem to want to learn. When I stare at this problem objectively, I see no answer.
As usual though, I’m determined to keep looking for one.