Student wants to get me fired

Discussion in 'General Education' started by allyv, Nov 12, 2015.

  1. allyv

    allyv Rookie

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    Nov 12, 2015

    Hi all,

    I am just wondering what I can do in this situation. I have a 6th grade student who constantly disrespects me in class. I called his parents about it and they said he denied everything, but of course, they would talk to him about it. Afterwards, he got worse, even telling other students I called his parents and continuing to be disrespectful. He even said that I can keep calling his parents because they do not care if he misbehaves, although his parents SEEMED to care a lot about it when I called them.

    Anyway, I gave him a B- on a drawing assignment (I teach art) and he got upset and argued with me that he deserved an A. I asked him if he wanted a C instead, because that was the real grade, I was just trying to be nice to him, and he said whatever. So, I just said alright and gave him the C. Afterwards, he told me that he was going to take this to the principal. His next period, he asked his teacher how he can get me (specifically, he named me) fired and the teacher was shocked he would ask that so he brought it to my attention.

    Normally, I don't care what students say about me to other teachers, but this student is threatening my livelihood and knowing how he is, I don't want this becoming an issue. Should I bring this to the principals attention or the assistant principal? Should I tell his parents again that this was said? Or is there nothing I can do until he actually goes to the principal to make an accusation about me?
     
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  3. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    First I would recommend not arguing with the student.

    Second, time for a parent conference, in person. I would not be concerned in any way over a 6th grader wanting to complain to the principal over his grade. Have the rubric or grading requirements ready and it is a non-issue.
     
  4. allyv

    allyv Rookie

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    Good point, that would be a good next step. I don't know why I didn't think of it considering we had conferences all week! We were completely booked though, so hopefully my team won't mind one more.
     
  5. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Nov 12, 2015

    I have experienced something like this, except that it was the parent who wanted to get me fired. It was a mess, and I had a lot of anxiety over the whole thing. I knew that I had done nothing wrong, though, and thankfully my admin backed me up. The parent's complaints were unfounded and therefore ignored.

    Do you have a supportive administration?

    I would further echo Pashtun's advice and suggest that you stop arguing with students. It seems very immature and it opens the door to these types of problems. It would have been much better for everyone if you had simply said, "This is the grade you earned. You can see the breakdown here on this rubric. It shows exactly where you need improvement." Repeat ad nauseam.

    If I were in your shoes, I might allow the student a chance to redo the assignment for additional credit, within some very specific parameters and time frame.
     
  6. dgebhart

    dgebhart Rookie

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    Nov 12, 2015

    Another thing I would do is immediately start documenting everything this child does. Everything he says, everything he writes, everywhere he goes in the room. This is the best way to prove your side, with verifiable instances of misbehavior. If your school allows it, maybe video tape him. (All students in my district have to opt out of being photographed and videotaped. Very few do.) That might be a little drastic if you think the parents are at least open to listening to you, but if they are hostile, always CYA. And definitely get admin involved ASAP. It is better to tell them before it becomes a huge blow up involving the parents.
     
  7. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Nov 12, 2015

    I think you made a mistake by not giving him the grade he actually deserved. You shouldn't give him a higher grade just because you're trying to be nice. Why would you want to be nice? That shows that you can be persuaded by your feelings about a student, giving them a better or worse grade. You can't be subjective in grading. And then because he argued now you lowered his grade.
    Don't argue with a student. Show him the rubric you used to grade his work and that's it.

    Parents sometimes sound supportive on the phone and then they don't do anything at home. The opposite also, parents are strict and follow up at home, but the student plays it down, saying they don't care, so you won't call them. the only thing you can do is talk to this student matter of factly, don't treat him any better or worse than anyone else, grade every one's work, including his objectively and fairly and continue to call home if you need to. You will see in time if the parents are supportive or not.
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2015
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  8. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    Nov 12, 2015

    Kids can be some vindictive sh!#$ sometimes & for him to go so far as to want to get you fired...eek. I'd mention it to the P or VP before they hear it from him, other kids, etc. Too bad you can't secretly audio record him being obstinate with you, so when you have that sit-down conference w/ the parents & they're denying up & down that their son isn't like that & he's lying through his teeth in front of his parents, you can't whip out the recorder, press play, & say does this sound like a respectable student to you?!
     
  9. allyv

    allyv Rookie

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    Caesar, I will definitely do that next time! I didn't think I was arguing with him at the time, since at first I thought he wasn't being serious, but now I know to not play around with these kiddos because they can be some vindictive sh!#$ as Ms. I said, haha :D

    I'm not sure about the admin so much because they are both new this year, so I don't know them all too well and they often appear very busy with other matters. I'm honestly afraid that if I bring this issue to them, they will kind of brush it off with a "take care of it yourself" attitude.

    dgbehart, I'm actually not comfortable recording my students, but I think the next best thing is rounding up other teachers who have had similar problems with this student and seeing if they don't mind sitting in with me during a conference :/ I actually haven't been too good about writing him up, I'm very lax on that and I need to get better at it.

    Linguist, I know what you mean. Another thing I have been lax on is my grading. I feel bad giving students less than a C sometimes and I need to get over that fast! :confused: It's a little different with art I guess because I grade based on effort and ability to follow the parameters set for the assignment.
     
  10. miatorres

    miatorres Comrade

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    Nov 12, 2015

    If you ever schedule a parent conference in person, I recommend that you ask an administrator, counselor, or teacher to attend as well. Sometimes difficult parents will blatantly lie about what was said and done in the conference. If you have a witness, he or she can verify what was indeed said in the conference.
     
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  11. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Nov 12, 2015

    I agree with all of the advice said so far. And if he's complaining to your principal and asking other teachers how to get you fired, I'm pretty sure the admin and all of the teachers in the school know he's just being a little snot and won't take him seriously.

    If a student asked me something like that about another teacher, I'd have them march up to the other teacher with me and apologize to her in person. It's just not acceptable that that would fly.

    I would ask the other teacher to document what the student said just in case he ever does try to bring up a case against you. Probably won't happen, but better safe than sorry. If he ever does try to bring up a case, it would fall to pieces when it comes to light that he's been looking for ways to get you fired.
     
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  12. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Nov 13, 2015

    Well... whether the student was right to complain in the first place... the student is absolutely correct to be upset about you lowering his grade as a result of his complaining. That's as poor a decision as you could have made, short of hitting the kid. You owe him a heartfelt apology for that, and you need to look seriously at your grading policies.

    As an adult, we see firing as a huge deal. The student sees firing as some sort of a punishment. He's looking to see you get punished, for doing something wrong. The student is coming from a world where breaking the rules means you get punished, and the student reached for the one punishment he knows teachers can get. And you did something wrong. Very, very wrong. Start with the apology, to the student and parent, and work from there.
     
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  13. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    I saw a couple of other possibilities that might be occurring. My first thought was that at this age spontaneous flippant comments are often part of a child's vocabulary when they're upset, but if the child realizes a comment sets a person off, s/he might continue the threat. Otherwise, such comments are usually forgotten by the student. In other words, I'd recommend a poker face about the comment when around the students.
    A more serious possibility, sometimes students who are being mistreated by another adult, because they are afraid or unable to come against that adult, will instead redirect their frustration or fear onto another more trusted adult. Although such a possibility might be a longshot, just in case, it might be advisable to make the principal aware of the situation, in case further conflicts shed light on a more serious need of the student.
     
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  14. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Nov 13, 2015

    If you think that this is going to go further than a student making threats because they are angry, you should talk to your admin about it. However, be prepared to "defend" your grading policies. Our grades must reflect mastery of the content; lowering a grade because a student is argumentative wouldn't fly, just as giving a good grade to a "nice" student wouldn't.
     
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  15. greendream

    greendream Cohort

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    Nov 13, 2015

    That was my thought. If a teacher actually lowered one of my kids' grades like that, I would be livid. Even if the kid didn't deserve the grade, that was the grade you gave them, and it seems like you lowered it out of anger.
     
  16. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Nov 13, 2015

    Well said.
     
  17. missrebecca

    missrebecca Comrade

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    Nov 13, 2015

    One of my 4th graders made similar threats. He was a known behavior problem at the school, so admin was always on my side, but I was doing similar things to you. I couldn't always defend my decisions in sending him to time out or writing up referrals -- there was PLENTY of reason, but I sometimes let his behavior go, and sometimes wrote him up for it. The student would point out my inconsistencies, and as I became more firm throughout the school year, it was a huge power struggle.

    Your grading and tolerance for behavior should ideally be black-and-white, and you should be able to explain your reasoning. I know sometimes students have different needs, but it sounds like this particular student and the class he is in will really need fair discipline and grading.

    Don't listen to what he says about his parents not caring. The student I mentioned above used to tell me all the horrible things his grandma said about me, and how she would physically harm me (LOL), but whenever admin or I met with her, it was clear that she wanted him to stop misbehaving and start learning. Even the worst behaved students usually have someone at home who cares about their academic success.

    I hope your conference goes well! :)
     
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  18. allyv

    allyv Rookie

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    Nov 14, 2015

    Hey all,

    the only reason I feel comfortable for lowering a student's grade for disrespecting me is because I factor behavior and effort into a student's grade. Since I know not everyone can be a great artist, I never look at the student's ability to create something beautiful but rather the effort they put in class and throw in a few points for behavior. I understand some may feel this is "wrong" (and comparing it to hitting a kid might be a bit extreme) but hey, it is my grading policy and I'm sticking to it. We each have our own way of doing thing and our own opinions on how a piece of art should be graded. I'm sorry if a few find it wrong.

    Obadiah, I definitely try the poker face thing a lot! Sometimes though, the under-the-breath comments can become like nails on a chalk board! It's hard to walk away without pointing it out. But you're right, I think the less I react, the more likely he won't say anything.

    missrebecca, thanks! Luckily, the class itself is actually pretty well behaved. This one student just has it out to get me! :p But yeah, I'm not listening to him about his parents. He actually came up to me yesterday after school and said "my dad wants me to ask you if I have been respectful to you so far..." haha. At least he did what his dad asked!
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2015
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  19. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    So you grade largely on effort, a student comes to you and demands an A for something you graded, and... that means his effort and behavior while creating that assignment actually regressed? I... don't see how that works. At all.
     
  20. allyv

    allyv Rookie

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    If I am not mistaken, it sounds a bit like you're arguing with me now! :D You were not there in this situation, and thus your confusion, so I accept that you disagree with me, however I would like to refrain from arguing about this. I'm simply looking for help on the matter itself, which I received.
     
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  21. missrebecca

    missrebecca Comrade

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    Wow, it's great that he asked you that! So his parents do care. Sounds like he's being held accountable at home.

    I mentioned the whole class just because if you are overly flexible with other students' grades in front of this particular student, he may still argue with you. I only say that because it's what I've personally experienced. Do what works for you. :)
     
  22. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Does your report card not have separate grades for behavior? I don't understand factoring behavior into a grade on a 'product'....I wouldn't consider behavior in grading a test or piece of writing, but I would give a student what he/she earned...and grade behavior separately in the appropriate section on the report card.
     
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  23. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    I agree with this, but would like to add, that a seperate behavior or effort grade has next to no effect where I work compared to the product grade.

    It may be different in other areas, but a student gets an A on product and D on effort, parents and even admin don't really care....and certainly not the student.
     
  24. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Being able to get an A without putting in effort just goes to show that the work is well beneath the ability of the student or that the student has excellent skills in producing the product. Unless the "effort" is representative of non-graded parts of the assignment such as legibility and neatness which do not always represent lack of effort.
     
  25. Bibliophile

    Bibliophile Companion

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    I teach kinder so my grading would be not anything like yours but I have a middle schooler of my own and though he isn't graded on behavior or effort exactly in art he is mostly graded on participation which basically means the same thing as far as I can figure. His teacher bases 60 of the overall grade on "participation" (which I'm glad for since my kiddo has fine motor deficits and as such he won't be drawing like Divincci in this lifetime). If my kid was being a bratty his grade would down significantly (and it has since...well he can be bratty). Art is subjective content and your grading policies don't have to be understood by others. Don't sweat other people not understanding. Most teachers would be appalled at the idea of grading based on anything but content mastery but that isn't always a possibility in art and failing a student for lack of motor skills or coordination that they can't control would be wrong. You didn't post this to have anyone attack or support your grading policies but I thought I'd just send a little support your way.
     
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  26. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    I agree. That is why I don't like our grading process, it allows students to underachieve and recieve an A on the standard. I think the student is pushed through certain grades recieving As, then reaches middle or high school and the students lack of effort and academic behaviors catches up to them and they receive a lower grade. The student and the parent act shocked, never seen such a low grade before, always recieved honor roll..etc, yet it was predictacle back in elementary grades.
     
  27. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Do you really mean it is a problem with the grading process or the education these students are receiving? A student who doesn't have to do much to achieve As needs a different and more challenging education.

    A large number of students shouldn't able to skate though elementary school then choke in MS. If so there is a big disconnect between the two instead of a steady escalation of skills and independence required to learn the materials. Either elementary isn't challenging enough to have the student ready or the MS jumps above what should be expected for most.
     
  28. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    I think elementary teachers put a lot more emphasis on differentiation than middle school teachers do.
     
  29. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    I do too, but we are not allowed to differentiate what is graded for report cards.
     
  30. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    I believe it is a bit of all 3. What I don't like is that I can challenge a student all day long, at their level, but I cannot report it as a grade on the report card. It has to be the same standard and expectation for every student.

    I can differentitate instruction, but not the grades.
     
  31. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    We have some ability to do that. My students are graded significantly harder than their gen ed counterparts. My report card grading is based on fourth grade standards for math, and for advanced level third grade material for the other subjects. Getting a 3 from me means a student is meeting advanced expectations, and a 4 means a student has mastered advanced expectations (and typically, a student getting a 4 for math has spent reasonably significant amounts of time with fifth grade standards). Even for the students who aren't in the GT program, teachers can mark on, above, or below for reading, and on or above for math (with the expectation that report card grades reflect what they are doing at that level).
     
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  32. Emilia O

    Emilia O Guest

    Jan 25, 2016

    I am going through this now. I asked the students to email me suggestions on how to improve the class (I teach seniors ready to get out--who happened to be attending a prestigious private school). Most students emailed me their ideas and I am planning to incorporate some. However, one student sent me an email in which he indicated that he "regrets to inform me that unless I change my teaching strategies in the near future, [he]will have to report [me] to the principal because students at (our school) do not deserve a teacher like [you]".
    Needless to say, I was floored. The class has labs but there is a lot of material that needs to be discussed before I hand out students specimens for dissection or ask them to decipher medical terms. I am single mother of two, and having my livelihood threatened is not something I take likely.
    Honestly, I am upset and not sure how to proceed. Any suggestions?
     
  33. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    My gut feeling would be to share this, and maybe the other messages received, with supervisor and principal. Sharing all messages shows typical versus this off the wall email. I'm not sure I would respond to this email, but your admin may think differently. Since the student is threatening to "tell the principal", I would tend to be proactive in sharing, but let admin guide the response.
     
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  34. miatorres

    miatorres Comrade

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    No way would I ever reply directly to this student's e-mail! This boy sounds bitter and probably projects this attitude towards many other people as well. It could just be a trap and he is hoping that you will respond so he can brag that he got a teacher in trouble. He has obviously shown misconduct by writing that email.

    I would make a copy of this email and share this with the union representative or attorney to put this student's misconduct on record. If you're working in a nonunion state or school, you should see if there's a trustworthy administrator that you can talk to about this student's email. Again, it is important to put this student's misconduct on record in case if he commits it again with you or with another teacher.

    This boy's email may be considered proof of harassment, libel, and/or defamation of character--an attorney (especially one who is experienced in school or employment law) would know.
     
  35. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    My thoughts exactly, but you said it much better. I have worked in a private school for a while, so missed the boat not mentioning the teacher's union. Good catch.
     
  36. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    I agree with the above, taking it somewhat seriously, but I'd also recommend considering the boy's maturity level. Teenagers, even seniors, do experience sudden strong emotions that might be exaggerated at the time; in other words, their actions sometimes override their brains.
     

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