Am I being petty? What would YOU do?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by queenie, Oct 10, 2013.

1. queenieGroupie

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Oct 10, 2013

This is my daughter's first year of middle school. She left elementary school with a 4.0 and was put into an Advanced Math class. Here is what I have been able to gather happens each day in the class:

When they arrive the teacher has a bell ringer on the board for them to copy.
The teacher then shows and explains notes that she has previously made up on the projector about the day's lesson.
Next, she assigns a lesson from the Math book. The bell ringers for the week are all due on Friday and the teacher doesn't go over them in class- just hands them back with a grade. The "homework" is done in class, but can be taken home and turned in the next day. Bell ringers and homework are usually worth 10 points each and tests are worth 100.

Even though I spend an hour each night going over homework with my daughter, she brings home at least 2 D's or F's each week. She scores 100 or more on the tests, so she has an A in the class right now, near the end of the first 9 weeks.

What bothers me is that even after we spend so much time carefully trying to figure out what she expects with each homework assignment the teacher writes things like, "Careless", or "Follow directions." If my daughter leaves a label off, she marks the entire problem wrong. If she doesn't round an answer (when dividing decimals) to the nearest tenth (even if it works out evenly to the hundredth or thousandth place) she marks the answer wrong.

Yesterday was the straw that broke the camel's back: The problem asked how many eggs a chicken would lay in 8 years if it laid 7 eggs a day. My daughter wrote the following for her answer: 20,454 (I originally had 20,440, but then remembered the 2 Leap Years). The teacher marked it wrong and wrote 20,440 on top of her answer. When I wrote a note asking her to take another look at it, she wrote IN INK ON TOP OF MY DAUGHTER'S EXPLANATION: -it didn't include leap year.

When I asked about the rounding thing, she wrote, "My directions were to round to tenths; we discussed that rounding to tenths if necessary meant all times- no answer was to be beyond tenths- this is how we practiced in class."

I asked dd what she would like for me to do and she said, "Just forget about it. I think I have an A in there right now."

What would YOU do?

3. gr3teacherPhenom

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Oct 10, 2013

Some of that seems pretty ridiculous. The leap year one in particular... I mean, as a gifted ed teacher, I WANT my kids to make observations like that! Especially because... frankly, she's absolutely right. 8 years, there will be exactly 2 leap years.

As for the rounding, that again seems silly. If the teacher wants it rounded to the nearest tenth, then the assignment should specify that... ESPECIALLY if the actual answer is a terminal decimal to the hundredths or thousandths place.

4. Go Blue!Connoisseur

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Oct 10, 2013

Nothing. If your daughter has an A in the class and has no problem with the teacher's methods, then maybe only you have a problem/issue with the teacher's methods. If her grade was suffering, that would be different.

5. Caesar753Multitudinous

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Oct 10, 2013

If your daughter is satisfied with her grade, then I don't think you should do anything.

Out of curiosity, how is she getting an A if she is bringing home multiple Ds and Fs each week?

As a high school teacher, I sometimes hear concerns/complaints from parents who start by saying that their kid always had straight As in middle school, so why does the kid have a C, D, F now? The problem with that argument is that things get more challenging as students move up in grade level. What worked in the previous grades (study skills and habits, reading comprehension skills, amount of on-task behaviors, homework compliance) doesn't necessarily work in higher grade levels. More is expected and necessary in order to maintain the same types of grades, even though many parents and students believe that they can be as successful as they have always been if they continue to do what they have always done.

6. JustMeVirtuoso

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Oct 10, 2013

Two things. In teaching middle school, those first Bs and Cs on report cards were brutal. Lots of parent concerns. But middle school is just different from elementary. Also, if you are going to speak with the teacher, I'd do it now while grades are NOT an issue so it doesn't seem you're only worried about your daughter getting that dreaded first C on the report card or whatever the case may be.

7. Go Blue!Connoisseur

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Oct 10, 2013

Excuse my language, but, dang, you're good. :thumb:

8. gr3teacherPhenom

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Oct 10, 2013

This doesn't sound like a "why is my child getting poor grades" kind of thing, so much as a "why is my child getting poor grades for questions she is absolutely right about and should not be getting penalized for" kind of thing.

9. JustMeVirtuoso

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Oct 10, 2013

To be clear, I do agree with that. ^ That's why I'd talk to the teacher now rather than later when it may be perceived as only caring about grades.

10. Caesar753Multitudinous

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Oct 10, 2013

It doesn't sound to me like the teacher is being unreasonable about the issues with the labeling and the tenths. If those things were discussed in class as regular expectations, then the student should have made sure to do them correctly.

The teacher is clearly wrong on the leap year issue. Even so, I'm not sure I would choose to fall on my sword over this one. It just doesn't seem important enough, especially since the student has an A and seems satisfied with her grade. I would save my fight for something more important that had a more serious impact on my kid than this one.

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Oct 10, 2013

The largest issue is how is this effecting your daughter. If she is getting an "A", is learning, and it doesn't bother her...then best to let it go for now. I don't agree with the negative comments on the paper such as "careless" etc. I think her high standards are okay as it appears that your daughter is meeting them just fine by earning an "A".

I know that accuracy in math is something that students take too lightly. So this teacher is going a bit overboard, and it isn't your style or mine. If it isn't hurting your daughter, then best to let it go. I do think it is good that you are keeping your eyes open, because it could get worse. If so, then you might need to say something if that situation arises.

12. agdamityFanatic

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Oct 10, 2013

I teach math, and I do not give full credit for answers without labels if labels are needed. Any time a unit of measurment is given in the problem, I expect to see it in the answer. While you have her on a technicality for the leap year question, I don't think it's worth a battle. When the average student reads that question, they will multiply by 365 days in a year. When grading a stack of papers, I would give her the benefit of the doubt that she didn't look at the difference between your daughter's answer and hers and automatically think of Leap days. (Would I give credit if it was brought to my attention? Sure)

13. 3SonsEnthusiast

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Oct 10, 2013

I would respect your daughter's wishes since she's in high school. Otherwise, I probably would say you really need to say something about the leap year thing.

I can see Caesar's point about it being a minor thing, but I think to a certain extent you need to cut off the minor things quickly before they become major.

I guess if you need to justify her particulars to yourself, consider computer programming. Not rounding off, when rounding to the nearest tenth is required, could cause an entire program to fail. Lack of labelling could be similarly problematic. I think she might be going a *little* far with marking the entire problem wrong for that, but that's my opinion on something that's not really my call. An unremarked leap year, however, can't be justified that way: if I told a programmer to figure it out, I could NOT turn around and blame him because he included the leap year unless I specifically told him before that about the chicken's once-in-every-four year holiday from laying eggs.

Actually, I see your daughter's in middle school. Yes, I'd say something.

14. a2zVirtuoso

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Oct 10, 2013

Marking lack of or incorrect labeling and not rounding to tenths if that is the class rule is fair. We can bicker about taking whole credit or partial credit, but I can guarantee you with this teacher it won't matter. That is the hill she will die on.

Now, including the leap years was more accurate. The difference between the rocket landing on Mars or shooting off to Neverland....

It seems that the grades she is doing poorly on are not weighted heavily. So, if all it takes is mostly remembering to label and round, then I suggest she pay closer attention to what her "audience" wants, which would be the teacher.

Queenie, see my PM.

15. EMonkeyConnoisseur

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Oct 11, 2013

I digress, but really, one chicken laying seven eggs a day??? It is the miracle chicken! The teacher does not know much about chickens. Back to the issue, I would be inclined to keep an eye on things; but not fight over this issue.

16. bisonHabitué

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Oct 11, 2013

I agree that marking the answers wrong for incorrect rounding or missing units is fairly typical, especially past the elementary level. They may seem like minor mistakes now, but as your daughter moves forward in math and science, they do become more and more important for accuracy. Your daughter is not only learning math, but the importance of precision as well. As others suggested, expectations change once you start middle and/or high school and it might take some time to get used to. How often do we tell our students to read and follow the directions? I know I do it all the time!

The teacher is wrong on the leap year issue, but unless her grade is impacted, I would let it go.

17. LoveslabsCompanion

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Oct 11, 2013

A miracle chicken:woot: Thank you! I really needed a good laugh this morning!!!!

18. TeacherNYMaven

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Oct 11, 2013

Too bad it wasn't a goose laying 7 golden eggs a day LOL I could use one of those!!

My 5th grade teacher marked an answer completely wrong if it wasn't labeled. We learned quickly that we had to check our answers!!

19. anantRookie

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Oct 11, 2013

I completely agree with readingrules12 that it is good if she is learning something new and extra there. But you should take care of her by keeping your eyes open.

20. JustMeVirtuoso

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Oct 11, 2013

I agree labels are important. Critical even. I know we were marked wrong growing up without labels.

But I think Queenie is concerned about the general teaching practices here. Bellringers never being discussed, not much actual teaching going on, an hour being spent of math each night, and so forth.

21. TeacherNYMaven

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Oct 11, 2013

I don't think there's anything the OP can do unless she actually talks to the teacher and voices her concerns. She might get some clarification on some things but I doubt the teacher is going to change her assignments or the way she grades.

22. 1cubsfanCompanion

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Oct 11, 2013

The leap year question is the only thing that I think was an oversight on the teacher's part. Other than that, things seem to typical for a teacher with high expectations.

We say that we want teachers to have high expectations, yet complain when they do.

Labeling is important. Rounding to the correct place is important. Perhaps the reason why the teacher doesn't give partial credit is because the problems and homework assignments are not worth very many points. if they are each worth a point, it makes sense to give no credit. I'm sorry; I'm not going to deal with 1/2 or 1/4 points on a little homework assignment.

If your daughter is in the correct level, motivated, and has support, she WILL rise to the ocassion and begin to pay attention to details and complete the entire question correctly. Considering she is doing well on the tests, I think she is doing fine.

As far as the bell ringers go, the teacher may explain them in class and your daughter might be missing it, or the teacher might be doing it in a subtle way. She may not say, "Now we are going to cover the bell ringer," but she might cover it in the lesson otherwise.

23. greendreamCohort

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Oct 11, 2013

Technically, it is possible to go 8 years without a leap year (accounting for years divisible by 100 but not by 400; e.g., 1900), but like others, I'm thinking the teacher just didn't remember leap years at all, and just dug a trench when confronted about the issue.

I guess I would respect my daughter's wishes, but I would keep an eye on her work if possible. If it gets too out of hand, I would go to the principal.

24. mathematicsRookie

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Oct 11, 2013

The first thing I would do would be to take a look at my own involvement in this situation. I would ask myself the following hard questions:

-Why am I spending an hour each night going over homework with my daughter? If she made it into the advanced math class, surely she is capable of going over her homework and coming to me only if necessary.

-Why am I attempting to intervene in this situation when my daughter clearly does not want me to?

-Do I need to protect my daughter from authority figures who are strict and maybe unreasonable at times? Or can she learn important life lessons by dealing with these situations on her own?

I have been in a very similar situation, asked myself these same questions, and came to some important realizations. I hope these questions can be helpful to you as well.

25. Melanie ThereseRookie

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Oct 11, 2013

The leap year thing is completely unreasonable; my guess is that the teacher is embarrassed she hadn't thought of those extra eggs. The insistence on the rounding is making me roll my eyes a little, but seems slightly less ridiculous.

Considering your daughter's response and grade, I would say let it go unless something else patently wrong and unreasonable crops up.

26. comabaCohort

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Oct 11, 2013

When I read this last night, I noticed the bolded. I wonder if the teacher feels that you're helping your daughter a little too much? Not saying you are, but perhaps the teacher thinks so and is reacting more harshly because of it.

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Oct 11, 2013

My mom always told me 'figure out how to get the A'. A huge part of life is politics-if your daughter has an A, I'd keep my mouth shut and go with it. Just ride out the rest of the time with this teacher and move on next year. I've had teachers who were coo coo for cocoa cocoa puffs, and there really is no arguing with them. I'm also sure I've had some parents who have thought I'M crazy. Sometimes you just have to get through it without rocking the boat.

28. queenieGroupie

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Oct 14, 2013

Makes sense! Good thing whatever she's been doing right all this time still works with every other teacher she has!

29. queenieGroupie

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Oct 14, 2013

Yep :thumb: .

30. queenieGroupie

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Oct 14, 2013

Can't blame the teacher for this one- the BOOK said that the average chicken lays 7 eggs a day. Maybe it's in an alternate universe where there are only 364.6 days a year or something?...

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Oct 14, 2013

:thumb:

32. queenieGroupie

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Oct 14, 2013

I have no problem with high expectations. I do have a problem with teachers who seem to be more interested in "tricking" students than helping them become successful. If her motives are to make her a better student, then bring it on! I honestly don't feel that is the motive for this particular teacher, unfortunately. :mellow:

Labeling is important. Absolutely! Agreed.

Rounding to the correct place is important. The directions said, "Round to the nearest tenth if necessary." The problems she missed for not rounding came out even at the hundredths and the thousandths place WITH NO REMAINDER.

Perhaps the reason why the teacher doesn't give partial credit is because the problems and homework assignments are not worth very many points. if they are each worth a point, it makes sense to give no credit. I'm sorry; I'm not going to deal with 1/2 or 1/4 points on a little homework assignment.

This is a great point that I hadn't considered! Thanks! Makes sense :thumb:

As far as the bell ringers go, the teacher may explain them in class and your daughter might be missing it, NO or the teacher might be doing it in a subtle way NO. She may not say, "Now we are going to cover the bell ringer," but she might cover it in the lesson otherwise. The TEACHER told me they don't go over them in class.

33. queenieGroupie

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Oct 14, 2013

Doubt it since I wrote the following on the note I sent:

Please take a look at #10 again. I was pretty impressed by Elizabeth's answer since I hadn't even thought of Leap Year- apparently they are learning about it in Science =)

34. queenieGroupie

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Oct 14, 2013

"The first thing I would do would be to take a look at my own involvement in this situation. I would ask myself the following hard questions:

-Why am I spending an hour each night going over homework with my daughter? If she made it into the advanced math class, surely she is capable of going over her homework and coming to me only if necessary."

I am spending an hour each night going over homework with my daughter because she is 11. She is not a college student. She deserves parental involvement in her life. She didn't show me ANY of her work the first two weeks of school, then she started asking for help ONLY in this particular class.

-Why am I attempting to intervene in this situation when my daughter clearly does not want me to?

I'm her mom. Not her best friend. I'm sure this will not be the last thing she doesn't want me to intervene in :wub: Plus, give me SOME credit- I haven't done a single thing I've felt like doing. Yet. And remember- I did ask her what she wants me to do.

-Do I need to protect my daughter from authority figures who are strict and maybe unreasonable at times? Or can she learn important life lessons by dealing with these situations on her own?

Yes. And yes. Please don't take my answers to these questions as rude. Just being real. I appreciate the questions, though. They are very thought provoking and did bring up some important revelations. I realized that more than a couple times I have steered my daughter wrong (told her the labels weren't necessary; told her that she didn't need to round, etc.) I think what upset me (in hindsight) most is that the very things I told her turned out to be the things the teacher marked wrong, so it just upset me that much more when the teacher didn't appreciate her Leap Year answer- I was just amazed since I don't think like that and would NEVER had even considered it So two things here- First of all, I'll continue to help her with her homework, but I'll trust her judgment on things I don't agree with since she is the one in the classroom with the teacher lol AND I'll stop being so picky unless and until SHE feels she's been wronged.