Parenting 101: Persistence is Key

This is a continuation of yesterday’s post…Parenting 101: Do Your Research

So, after sending my email to the Principal this was the response that I received:

Hi Ms. T,

I did speak with Ms. V. regarding this assignment…

In response to your last questions first, yes, School Max is the vehicle for parents to monitor grades and student work. I know that all the English Language Arts teachers grade and send home student work as regularly as possible.  If I understand, you have not yet received the 3/4/16 assignment that Munch received a zero for?  I was told it was sent home on Friday?

In terms of the zero, I am of the understanding that Munch’s answer to this writing prompt was not simply illegible, but filled with letters strung together as nonsensical words.  As Munch is both new to ELA instruction and to the writing process, our RELA teachers dedicate an inordinate amount of time to model, provide examples, key phrases and words to be used in the writing prompt.  They do it through the visualizer/document camera, with anchor charts, and through meeting one on one with students to support their writing development.  As you have stated, the fact that Munch missed all the “clues” from Ms. O’s support is of greater concern to me as an educator.

Thank you for taking time to review the grading and reporting procedures for elementary students.  If you will look a bit further at section i on page 4, the policy discusses when a student can receive a failing grade on an assignment, quiz or test:  “when a student fails to complete the work within an assigned time frame.”  If we allow Munch to make up or extend his time frame on this writing prompt, then we would have to do so for all students.  I also noticed that it was counted as a homework assignment, which means it is weighted as 15% of his grade.  After grading an assignment, should the teacher decide that he or she does not want to include it as part of a student’s permanent record, then I believe they have that discretion.  Sometimes students do worse than a teacher would like on an assignment, and if the teacher feels the assignment was poorly worded or framed, or does not fairly assess the concept they have taught, it is possible that all students misunderstand the assessment and do poorly.  The end result is that each teacher has the right to use or not use an assignment.

Finally, while you are correct in stating that the district’s policy calls for the teacher to enter two grades per week per category, please be reminded that Munch receives grades in both French Written and Oral Communication and English Written and Oral communication, so in essence he is getting the requisite number of grades as outlined in this policy.  As always, immersion schools do not fit the profile for the district as a whole.

I hope I was able to answer all your questions.

So, should I have been hot? I was fuming and let me tell you the four reasons why I was hot:

Reason #1: The Principal was supposed to be unbiased. I am all for educators supporting their staff but aren’t you the same ones that say parents don’t show up for conferences or back to school night? Not me. I’m everywhere. All the time. I have a minimum of 5 parent/teacher conferences throughout the school year. This response was not an unbiased response to a parent’s concern. She decided to formulate an opinion without talking to me or suggesting a meeting to discuss.

Reason #2:  You are trying to analyze my son’s work on assignment that you hadn’t seen. Who does that? If I told you what someone did wouldn’t you want to see the assignment or do we regularly analyze a child’s learning site unseen? Umm, I was offended.

Reason #3:  Your condescending and elitist attitude. I never once asked for my son to receive special treatment. I simply stated the policy and asked do educators always give zeroes to children when the definition of attempt means to try at the second grade level? If he put his name on the dang paper by definition he attempted the assignment. How are you trying to deny the rules and disregard them that are set-up to protect the teachers, students and parents? His classwork is sent home a month after it is done. When is 30 days timely?

Reason #4: Your disregard for the policy as outlined by the district and  you trying to tell me that the teacher can give a zero which it says the reasons must be extreme and then justify that they don’t have to count the homework that he did. This is not true. We are not going to set my son up for failure. Point blank period. Furthermore, I’m not going to allow your teachers or you to disregard the policy. We can take this to the school board.

I wasn’t going to go quietly in the night and have her think that her answers were acceptable.  Do you agree with my concerns?

 

 

 

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10 thoughts on “Parenting 101: Persistence is Key

  1. I do agree this is unsatisfactory but I also think much of this could have been changed with a few different things. I have been a 10th grader and 6th grader and often mediated with our old school, parents, teachers and administration. I recommend sending a quick email to the teacher at the first sign something is off. Ask them to call you and give a few times that it may be convenient for you to talk. Emails lose tone of voice and we can “read” things into emails that are not there. If the phone call with the teacher is unsatisfactory then I suggest a meeting in person with the principal. Again, face to face gives us all time to clarify any misunderstandings of what is being said. Then go to the superintendent if things are still not worked out. Sometimes emails can work things out but mostly they cause more confusion and upsetting situations in all the years I have been working with schools. Phone calls and face to face are best when possible. I hope you are able to sit down with the teacher and principal and talk this out before going to the superintendent.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Agree agree agree.

      My old school used to have a no-email policy and now I see the wisdom. Tone is crucial. The email was unsatisfactory because of the message but ESPECIALLY because of the tone. And where you read “elitist” I am reading overly professional and cold. In other words, this principal understands that a written record is being kept and that the record will follow and can be used in subsequent conversation with outside parties. She has to convey factually without deviation.

      With face to face or phone, there is room for candid moments, places for give and take. I’m not telling you that she is right (because she isn’t), I’m telling you that she is in a corner.

      I call reset. Teacher first, principal after. I STRONGLY suggest that you not have the teacher and principal in the same meeting because it sets up a similar dynamic as in the email. Everybody has to play a role and save face. Nobody needs that right now.

      What you want to focus on is clarifying and re-calibrating the standards of communication and then grading. But most of all, communication. You need to teach them how to treat you. Once we all have that clear, we can move forward with how best to provide Munch with the support that he needs.

      And also, if that assignment doesn’t make it home within the next week, I call bullshit on the illegible stuff. Follow up questions for the educators: is this a pattern? Is his handwriting so outside the norm of his classmates? How long have you had a concern about this? Why wasn’t that concern communicated with me? Can you show me examples of other times when his handwriting was so poor? Do you have resources to help him, help me help him? Are other students losing points based on handwriting?

      The way that the principal describes the way the wording looks (a jumble of letters in a haphazard way) implied some sort of deeper issue. Is she insinuating that Munch be tested for something? That’s pretty deep for someone who hasn’t seen the assignment herself (she should have known better. If you take this up with a higher body, I would highlight that specifically).

      But before we get all up in it, let’s see if they will sit down and talk. That is where I would start if I were you.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. LOL. Girl, this was exactly what I was feeling. We did meet face to face on Tuesday and that outcome will post on Tuesday of this week. Yes, she was implying things about him without having seen the paperwork. Umm, who does that? I called BS on that as well. But, I like the no email policy. I asked her when I emailed her to call me, but she chose to respond by email and thus we ended up here. Just to let you know the work was never produced.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Thank you. Yep, I’m doing this in a four part series. The last email discusses our sit down. The teacher should have sent the paper home. All this could have been handled had she done her job and followed the policy. I asked the principal to call me and she didn’t. When I sent her another email expressing my frustration, she did. I wanted to outline my issues and I asked her to call me to discuss. She chose to respond via email instead of talking which put me in the offensive.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I see both sides — having worn both hats as parent and school leader. This principal is right in saying that immersion-style schools and other charter schools may have a different memorandum of understanding than traditional county schools. From the teacher’s perspective, she can offer as much practice as she likes without scoring everything; however, in a case where a student regularly submits assignments and has an involved parent, I would not have assigned a zero without calling or e-mailing you to say, “Hi there. Munch submitted HW today, and I can’t read it. Could you get him to resubmit it tomorrow for full credit?” Had she reached out to you, this could’ve been resolved right away.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree. But, if they don’t operate as standard then there needs to be some written manual given to parents as to what the expectations are. I don’t believe in stuff that is not written down. You get your funding from the state and county through my tax payer dollars. Yes, and had the teacher just sent me an email about the classwork and given me a copy then we wouldn’t be here. Again, why are you giving a 7 year old a zero and not giving him an opportunity to sit there and write it clearer? Hell, he could have been having a seizure.

      Liked by 1 person

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