Is This Really Middle School Education???

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by collegefbfan889, Jan 17, 2007.

  1. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Jun 24, 2007

    I teach high school students. I've found that many of them enter my classroom without the most basic understanding of language, grammar, and logic. These kids can't pick out a topic sentence, can't use apostrophes, have no idea what a personal pronoun is, and can't apply the skills I've modeled for them to another example--even after dozens of practice attempts. They just don't get it that if this particular rule applies in one place, it probably applies in another place... and this is a nightmare when it comes to conjugating!

    I do my best to roll up my sleeves and start from scratch, but it's so hard. They fight me every step of the way because no other teacher before me actually made them learn stuff. Apparently it had always been enough that they filled in a couple of blanks and circled a couple of multiple choice answers. In my classroom, however, students must actually demonstrate their knowledge of a particular skill or concept.

    I had one parent at the beginning of the year call me and scream at me about her student's grade on an assignment. The student didn't turn in the assignment, so I gave her a zero for it. The mom demanded that I change the score to a 59%, since that was an F. She explained to me (as though I were a first grader) that a score of zero would bring her daughter's grade down a lot more than a score of 59%. I calmly explained that my policy was that students earn scores based on their effort and the quality of their work. Zero effort = zero for a score. And that was the end of that, at least with this mom.

    What I've really struggled with this past year has been this pervasive apathetic attitude of many of my students and many of the students at my school. I can assign a project to 100 kids, and I will truly, honestly, no exaggeration receive 5 on the due date. 5 out of 100. That's 5%. All the teachers at my school complain of the same phenomenon. How can I possibly give a passing grade to a student who just doesn't do the work? Some students have failed to turn in like 15 or 20 assignments over the course of the semester. If they don't even try, then I have nothing to work with.

    I suspect that many of my students don't turn in their assignments because they find the work too difficult. Like I said before, they don't seem to have been asked to really think about things before. So when I ask them to do just that, they fuss and whine and get overwhelmed. I've tried ameliorating my worksheets to make them extremely visually pleasing with lots of pictures and very little actual work, and then graduating to slightly more difficult worksheets and assignments. And that's all been to virtually no avail.

    Right now I'm planning out my syllabus for next year and I'm having a hard time taking all this into account. I haven't yet decided what I'm going to do, but I do know that I will continue to have high (but not unreasonable or unattainable) expectations for my students.

    After all, no one rises to meet low expectations.
     
  2. frodolass

    frodolass Comrade

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    Jun 24, 2007

    I actually don't think this is an unreasonable request. Our middle school offers weekly progress reports for students who are struggling.
     
  3. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    I don't think it is unreasonable either. My oldest child doesn't bring home his homework a lot and I have no way of knowing unless a teacher tells me. The same goes for the quality of his work. While in 5th grade he should be responsible, clearly a 2 year pattern shows that he is not responsbile in this area. He is bright and makes A's and B's on his report card but I want him accountable for his responsibility too. I didn't demand the weekly update, but I told the teacher I can only help if she lets me know early on. Give him some breathing room to try to let him do the right thing on his own, but his previous year's teacher didn't tell me for 6 months that my son wasn't doing 90% of his homework. I was checking and signing his log nightly. How was I supposed to realize he was lying to me all that time? THAT was completely unacceptable.

    This summer I am homeschooling him. Although we are working on writing (his weakness), spelling, coming up with one creative educational assignment himself (thinking skills), typing/computer skills and handwriting the REAL reason he is having to do this is to gain some discipline, structure, time management and organization skills necessary for a good responsible and accountable behavior pattern. We will see if he applies it, but you can't tell this parent she didn't try to teach him these skills.
     
  4. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Jun 24, 2007

    I've also been asked to give weekly updates to parents of students who are struggling. I don't mind doing this at all, mainly because it takes one click to print out the kid's current grade report and about 1 minute to handwrite a little note to the parent at the bottom.

    So many of the parents around here take absolutely no interest in their kids' education that it's really nice when some do. I'm happy to make things a little easier for those parents.
     
  5. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jun 24, 2007

    For those of you who have read my "Matt" thread, it was his mom.

    In our school, here's how it's handled: the guidance counselor will send a note to each of the teachers asking for an update-- quizzes, homeworks, tests, detentions and anything else. She'll pass the info on. That way, none of us gets into a weekly conversation with the parent.

    This year I had 180 7th graders. Each of them had 7 teachers per day, plus homeroom and study hall. That's a LOT of potential time on the phone.

    We also send home progres reports twice a year, in addition to each of the 3 report cards. Each of those, with the exception of hte June report card, is followed by Parent-Student-teacher interviews. So, in addition to the Back to School night and cocktail parties we have t attend, there are at least 4 scheduled interview nights.
     
  6. bettyb

    bettyb Companion

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    Jun 24, 2007

    I sometimes find that the parents who want the weekly reports do little to change things when they receive them. Having the parent email every Friday to request the report works well. The responsibility falls on them. If the parents are willing to work with their child, I have no problem with weekly reports.
     
  7. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jun 24, 2007

    Oh, so then Matt's mom should have come to one or two of those parent-teacher-student conferences???
     

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