LAST CALL FOR APRIL SPONSORS. COME JOIN THE PARTY! DETAILS HERE
It happens four times a year.
The dreaded end of quarter. (For newbies around here I teach high school English for a living. It is altogether the best and worst decision of my life. Figure that one out for me!)
Oh the angst of the end of the quarter! The woe! The drama! The tears! It is five days of pure madness as kids I haven't seen in months flock in to try to make up the mountains of work they have been neglecting. I start the day real sweet and by 3:00 I'm about ready to bit off the head of any kid who dares mutter, "Uh... Teacher..." Students if you are out there somewhere reading this, I'm sorry! I really am sorry! It's not the real me lashing out, I promise!
I think what I hate most about end of quarter is that it puts me in really difficult situations. There are no easy calls in teaching. A lot of times I make the ultimate call in whether a kid passes or not. Oftentimes they are students who struggle, who have difficult home lives, who need the extra help. Do you let them hand in an extra assignment? Do you make exceptions for them that you don't make for regular students? Do you let them ignore deadlines that you shove down the throats of the rest of your students? Do you teach them that the world will always make an exception for them or do you force them to fail and learn the hard truth?
And so, I have created day Round 2 of "What would you do?" I was burned on this by mean commenters the first time I did it, but alas, I am ready to venture into the world of anonymous and nasty comments once again to see what you folks all think. Would you be a good teacher? Would you be merciful? Would you be just? How do you know what is right?
WHAT WOULD YOU DO? TEACHER'S EDITION
BY THE LIFE OF BON
STUDENT #1: THE "HARD HOME LIFE."
I received an email from the school counselor today asking me if I could let a student hand in extra work and give her a couple of weeks past the end of quarter to get stuff in. She has an awful home life, abusive father, absent mother, etc. The problem is she literally has a four percent in my class. She has been to class maybe 3 days out of the quarter. When I said this to the counselor she replied that the student is on a 504 (special accommodations because of needs) and is allowed extra time. Hmmmm. Now what?
A. Allow the student to make up any work from the quarter. It isn't her fault life dealt her a crappy hand.
B. Allow the student to do enough work to get her to passing, but only to passing.
C. Allow the student to fail the class. She didn't attend class, she didn't do work for class, she doesn't "pass" the class.
MY ANSWER: C. I emailed the counselor back that the girl would fail because she is already months behind on many deadlines from the quarter that are too late to make up no matter what your 504 says. The truth is I feel dishonest "passing" a kid like this. I get that she "needs" it, but me saying she passed the class when I know she didn't is no different than her lying and saying she did an assignment when she knows she didn't. She didn't learn the material, didn't read the books, didn't "pass."
STUDENT #2: THE LOST ASSIGNMENT
I had a student who said her main writing project for Tuesdays with Morrie never got put in the computer. We scoured the room and the assignment was nowhere to be found. The assignment is worth 150 points makes up roughly 15% of her grade. She hand did the project as it was a creative, hands on assignment. I would estimate that the assignment takes anywhere between 4-8 hours to do in its entirety. She has always been a good student for me, and never lied. Do I excuse the assignment, or do I make her do it again? I am very methodical in my grading and never take work home with me, so it couldn't have left the classroom. The girl has also accused other teachers of losing her work. That being said, a month ago I found another student's lost assignment from last year underneath a stack of my copies. Teachers make mistakes, too.
A. Give her the benefit of the doubt and give her the grade of what she normally averages on big assignments. Act like you found it so that the mom and girl don't think you're a crappy teacher.
B. Just excuse her from the assignment so the points from the project don't help her grade or hurt her grade.
C. Make her redo the assignment. No proof no points.
MY ANSWER: C. I felt awful about it, and believe me, if that stupid project shows up in June when I'm cleaning out my room I will sit down and cry tears of embarrassment. But I have no evidence of the assignment ever having been turned in. I just can't give points for something I never saw. I guess I am scarred by my eighth grade best friend who constantly said she handed in work she didn't, took advantage of our weak sauce English teacher, and ended up with an A without doing a stitch of work. Kids can be sneaky, you know.
STUDENT #3: THE "ONE DAY PAST DEADLINE."
Every end of quarter I cut off the work deadline a week before the quarter actually ends. This allows me to get grades in on time, keep my sanity, and helps me stay organized. Inevitably there are always a few students who try to hand work in the day after the cut off. My cut off for this quarter was Thursday, March 21. I was gone on Friday for Ashley's wedding. When I came back this morning, the sub had left a student's project on my desk. A 100 point essay that wasn't turned in on time was now completed and done extremely well. I could tell the student took some time with this. If I accept this assignment, the student will pass. If I do not accept it, the student will fail.
A. Give the student the points. It was only one day, no one has to know about it, and the important thing is that she did the work. Isn't that what the point of all this is anyway? Besides, it wasn't an extra inconvenience to me as I hadn't even started grading that period's work yet.
B. Give her half the points she would have originally earned on it. If it's enough to pass, she passes, if not, too bad.
C. Don't give her any points. The deadline was written on the board, I reminded students a million times, and she had plenty of opportunities to get it in on time.
MY ANSWER: A.....?!? I am still undecided on this one, but am leaning toward A because the work is already completed and because she really is a bright, capable girl- just struggles to get work in on time. But then if I do this for one student do I have to do it for all students? And why can't students just remember their freaking deadlines already?
TOMORROW: Shabby Apple giveaway. Make sure to stop on by!
Also, my high school is #2 in the nation for having the most unique high school mascot! I felt all warm and tingly watching this footage of my old alma mater and the hicks who still inhabit that time. GO DINOS!