Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Family and Children => Topic started by: SeptGurl on October 25, 2012, 08:44:10 PM

Title: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26, #56, #141 (mini), #151, #165
Post by: SeptGurl on October 25, 2012, 08:44:10 PM
I have been debating about posting on this situation for about a week. It has gotten to the point that I could use some insight from others. I need help to be sure I'm addressing this properly. Apologies in advance because this is going to be rather long, but I think the detail is important.

BG:

DS is in 6th grade, which is middle school. He is an A science student. He loves science and is excited to learn everything about it. For years, he has talked about wanting to work in a science or math related field.

The middle schools here have dedicated teachers assigned to science. They have just started a new science curriculum. It's called a "layered" curriculum -- there are C, B, and A layers of assignments. In a nutshell, all the kids are expected to do the work in the C layer. That is the minimum. If the kids have time (and this means spending time outside of class), they may do B layer and A layer work. The work becomes more complex in the B and A layers. A layer work is the most challenging. The kids cannot start any B or A layer work until they have completed all the work in the previous layer.

10/1/12
The teacher initiates the first science unit with layered assignments. Her message to the parents is to "check the student's point sheet to see what they are working on." I was doing that. I could see what DS had been working on. He was earning points for assignments.

10/10/12
The teacher sends an e-mail to the parents letting us know that the kids are behind in their work. She states that if they expect to earn As or Bs, then they have to do the A- and B-layer work. This was the first time we'd been told explicitly that the layers corresponded with letter grades. The deadline for the work at that time was 10/17/12. If we expected that our kids should earn Bs or As, then we should have them come in early before school (7 a.m.) on Mondays, Wednesdays, or Fridays or they should use their study hall time to get the work done. I looked at DS's point sheet again that day. In looking at it, I discovered that there was a calendar on the back of the point sheet with an end date of 10/17/12. I noticed that two class periods were crossed off. I asked DS why they were crossed off. He said the teacher didn't let them work on their projects those days and showed videos instead. Given his work rate at that point, he was on track to earn a C given the number of days remaining before the deadline. I worked with him to create a plan to get all the work done before the deadline.

10/12/12
The teacher posts a note on the school's homework website stating that the deadline for the projects was extended to 10/24/12. No explanation was provided.

10/15/12
DS worked hard over the preceding weekend and the afternoons the previous week to complete his remaining C-layer work. DS came home from school and informed me that the reason for the 10/24 extension was that the teacher decided to go on a three-day, off-site field trip with the 7th graders. She doesn't presently teach 7th grade. There was no further communication from the teacher about the status of the projects or how her absence would affect them.

10/16/12
DS completed the B-layer work. He asked the teacher after school about starting the A-layer work. He said she told him to wait until the weekend when she would post the assignments on the class website. DS says she stated she would post it "by Saturday." The teacher left for her field trip on 10/17/12.

10/17-10/19/12
DS engages in busy work assigned by the substitute teacher. He cannot proceed with his projects.

10/20/12
I e-mailed the teacher to make sure that DS understood her direction about him waiting until the weekend to get the instructions from the website. I didn't want him to let the whole weekend go by unnecessarily because the final deadline for the work was 10/24/12. The teacher replied and stated that she would have the instructions posted sometime over the weekend (not "by Saturday," as DS stated). She also said she had left work in the room for the kids to do while she was gone. She did not specify the type of work or how it related to these projects. I asked her if the work in the classroom included the A-layer work. She replied and said that she specifically remembered DS approaching her after class (not after school as DS reported) and that she told him there would be work in the room and that she would post the A-layer work sometimes this weekend. I replied again and said that DS was under the impression that he couldn't do any A-layer work while she was gone and needed to wait through the weekend until it was posted online. I asked again if A-layer work had been available in the classroom during her absence. She did not reply.

DS checked his class website all day on 10/20 to see if she posted the A-layer work. She didn't.

10/21/12
The teacher posted the instructions for the A-layer work at 4 a.m. I'm not kidding. I happened to be awake at 5 a.m. (insomnia), so I logged on and saw it. One assignment could be done at home. The other had to be done at school.

We kept DS home from church and his youth group so he could get the one assignment done at home. We felt that this would give him more time to focus on the assignment that had to be done at school by that 10/24 deadline. He worked all day on the assignment that could be done at home. It was extensive and required PowerPoint slides and a typed paper.

The assignment that has to be done at school requires the kids to conduct three tests for an experiment. The experiment requires a microscope and all the associated paraphernalia. Then the kids have to write a research paper about their hypothesis, how they conducted the experiment, and their findings.

10/21/12 (evening)
The teacher posts a note on the website stating that she has the stomach flu and won't be at school in the morning. She states that the kids should not come early if they were planning to work before school. She says she will consider changing the deadline again. The note also says, "I hope this is a quick bug for many reasons I won't share but mostly because I am anxious to get back." Reasons she won't share? 

10/22 and 10/23/12
Teacher is out sick. Although DS has the A-layer assignments in hand, he still can't do any work at school on his last assignment because the microscopes are locked up when the teacher isn't there. DS tried to check the assignment folders to see if there were any examples of experiments or any other information that he might need to carry out his experiment; however, the assignment folders had been removed from the bin where they'd been kept. There was more busy work with the substitute. The teacher posts a note on the website stating that the deadline will be moved to "no earlier than 10/29."

10/24/12
Teacher returns to the classroom. No notice is given to parents, so no kids can work before school. During class, DS asks the teacher if he can work on his experiment. Teacher refuses because she says other kids are still finishing the C-layer work, so he has to wait for them to finish because there aren't enough microscopes. She tells him to try again the next day. According to DS, the new deadline for all the work is 10/31; however, parents have not been notified of this via e-mail or website. The website still says "no earlier than 10/29."

10/25/12
During class, DS found a free microscope and set up his entire experiment. He asked the teacher for salt, which he needed to carry out the experiment. She refused, stating that the room was too chaotic and there were too many kids trying to work. She told him he needs to come in early tomorrow before school to get it done. Still no announcement to parents about the new deadline. Website still says "no earlier than 10/29."

Note: Although her 10/10 e-mail states that parents will see grades for each layer of assignments, no grades have been posted on the class website since 9/27.

End BG.

Now you're up to speed. Tomorrow morning, I have to take DS to school at 7 a.m. so he can complete his A-layer experiment. I have lost my patience with this situation. I believe I have already attempted to address concerns about these projects directly with the teacher, so I don't plan on e-mailing her about it again. My opinion is that she owes me a response on the previous e-mail, which she ignored. I have no confidence that she will reply to further e-mail from me. (I should mention that I e-mailed her once earlier in the quarter about a grade that DS was missing. It took her four days to reply.)

I also can't feel confident that the deadline is now 10/31. I believe we are wiser to operate under the assumption that it is 10/29 because that is what is still posted on the website. If DS is able to get his experiments done tomorrow, he will be able to write the paper over the weekend and turn it in on Monday to meet the possible 10/29 deadline.

Right now, my plan is to walk with DS to the science classroom tomorrow morning so that I can be sure that she is there and that he can do the experiments. In my opinion, if she told him to come in early tomorrow, then she needs to be there and she should allow him to do the work. If that does not happen, my plan is to head to the school office to speak with the principal.

I am troubled by the poor communication from the teacher. I also am troubled that the teacher has refused twice to allow DS to continue his work during class time. I'm speculating here, but it appears that the schools may be under some mandate to ensure that all the kids are performing at least at the C level (a minimum standard), which could be why she has been pushing DS away from the equipment. This allows the kids who are still doing C-layer work to meet their minimum. If that is true, then I worry about the message that sends to the kids who have been working at the higher levels. Regardless of the extra time outside of class that they're spending on projects, they wind up stymied in the end because other kids who haven't been putting in the extra time are taking up the equipment.

I also see bigger-picture issues. A reality is that some kids don't have the resources to come in early before school starts. They ride the bus. Their parents may not be able to drive them to school at 7 a.m. Some kids may need to eat breakfast before school in the cafeteria. Some kids may not have the resources to do this work at home, like a computer with internet access and a word processor. DS had minimal experience with PowerPoint before this weekend. Some kids may not have parents with the skills to walk them through setting up a PowerPoint slide or finding graphics online. What happens to those kids? Are they relegated to getting Cs in science because they don't have the personal resources to do more? Is that equal opportunity in learning? And then we have the issue of overall equipment availability. If there are only four microscopes in the classroom, it seems pretty obvious that there would be conflicts regardless of which layer of work the kids are working on.

What, if anything, should I say to the teacher if she is in fact in the classroom tomorrow morning? I plan to stay only long enough to ensure that DS is allowed to work.

If you would continue to attempt discussion with the teacher, what would you say?

If you would bypass the teacher and go to the principal, what would you say?

Should these issues be addressed with the principal regardless of whether DS is allowed to do his experiments in the morning?

Please be honest: Am I hovering like a helicopter or do my concerns make sense?

Thank you for reading all of this.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long)
Post by: Deetee on October 25, 2012, 09:05:30 PM
Ugh. There are so many things wrong with this that I don't know where to start.
First, you are not a helicopter parent ( I do think you are more involved than appropriate but there doesn't seem to be another option)

First the grading scheme and deadlines should have clear and set from the beginning of class.

Second you should not need to do hours of extra work to get A and B. That is so unfair to the kids without the outside resources it is not even funny.

Go to the principal.  This is unreasonable, disorganized and unfair.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long)
Post by: AngelicGamer on October 25, 2012, 09:16:39 PM
OP - you are not a helicopter parent in any sense of the word.  You are making sure that your DS can do the best that he can do. 

I agree that this C, B, A level thing doesn't seem to be working.  It seems odd to me.  However, I'm used to classes in middle school where C, B, and A levels are all separated.  I understand that some schools cannot do this, but if you can't, then the teacher needs to be able to manage her classroom enough to make sure that the kids who want to do the B and A level work can do it.

Also, if there aren't enough 'scopes for doing level A (and/or B) work, my plan as a teacher (so hypothetical) would be to put that student who is ahead of his peers to help out as an assistant.  I would have a quick quiz ready (10 to 15 questions) on the lab of the day for the C (and/or B) levels.  You get a 85 or higher and you can be a helper (I'm not sure what I would do if they didn't pass that bar).  It would take five to ten minutes at the start of class while I was getting the C levels ready.  It would translate into extra credit to be used at their discretion or mine - as in, if they were a few points away from that A and had the extra credit, they'd get the A. 

OP, for your plan, I like it.  I do think that I would go with Deetee on one thing.  Even if the teacher is there for your DS to do his work, I would go to the principal.  I would have emails printed out and maybe even screenshots if you have them.  As much as they need to be graded on the C level stuff to get funding, the B and A levels make them look good.  I have never known a school - middle or high school - that didn't want to look good.  It means more monies for more things.  :)
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long)
Post by: MyFamily on October 25, 2012, 09:19:21 PM
So, basically, a kid can't get higher than a C in this class unless they come to extra classes?  I don't understand this, and honestly, this seems very wrong.  Combined with her lack of communication, I think you are correct to attempt a face-to-face discussion with her and if that doesn't work speak with the principal. 
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long)
Post by: Acadianna on October 25, 2012, 09:22:14 PM
Ugh. There are so many things wrong with this that I don't know where to start.
First, you are not a helicopter parent ( I do think you are more involved than appropriate but there doesn't seem to be another option)

First the grading scheme and deadlines should have clear and set from the beginning of class.

Second you should not need to do hours of extra work to get A and B. That is so unfair to the kids without the outside resources it is not even funny.

Go to the principal.  This is unreasonable, disorganized and unfair.

The above says it for me.  It sounds like your son has made all effort possible to complete the B and A layers, but has been discouraged every step of the way.  His frustration and yours are completely reasonable.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long)
Post by: Shakira on October 25, 2012, 09:29:38 PM
POD to all of the above. I would make sure the teacher is there, and then make an appointment to speak with the principal. I would outline everything exactly as you just told us. Wow, what a headache! Is she TRYING to make the kids want to learn less?!
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long)
Post by: CharlieBraun on October 25, 2012, 09:30:11 PM
Wow.

You are SO not a helicopter parent.  As the wife, daughter, sister times two of teachers, I can assure you...you are not.

The chronology you laid out is damning.  Not to your son, but to his teacher.  I usually will defend any teacher, any time, but this is not a situation in which the teacher's behaviour is defensible.

I strongly suggest that you copy and paste your chronology into a Word document and include copies of your emails  - all in print form and also in PDF.  Email the principal and ask for a personal meeting with him/her to discuss performance standards for the school and specifically for the grade level of your son.  Bring that with you.

I applaud your efforts to keep your son's attentions focused on the levels of work due and your dedication to providing the platform for his success.  I especially applaud that you are teaching him that his work is what matters and that you encourage him and direct him on time management to complete those.  (unspoken subtext: you aren't doing the work for him or whining down at the school about how unfair things are.)

This teacher is so unprofessional that it borders professional Darwinism. 

Please make an appointment with the principal, show up with the documentation, and ask how the school intends to rectify the lack of attention on the part of the teacher to her/his students, and in particular her/his active discouragement of achievement among her student body.

Many warm hugs. 
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long)
Post by: NyaChan on October 25, 2012, 09:31:39 PM
Ugh. There are so many things wrong with this that I don't know where to start.
First, you are not a helicopter parent ( I do think you are more involved than appropriate but there doesn't seem to be another option)

First the grading scheme and deadlines should have clear and set from the beginning of class.

Second you should not need to do hours of extra work to get A and B. That is so unfair to the kids without the outside resources it is not even funny.

Go to the principal.  This is unreasonable, disorganized and unfair.

The above says it for me.  It sounds like your son has made all effort possible to complete the B and A layers, but has been discouraged every step of the way.  His frustration and yours are completely reasonable.

I'm in agreement.  Take in the history that you just posted her in a more concise form so that the principal can see what has happened. 
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long)
Post by: Sharnita on October 25, 2012, 09:34:51 PM
Some of what you are concerned about is completely reasonable, a few points seem nitpicky.  I would drop the nitpicky points so that you can get respectful attention paid to the many valid points.

1)  It should not take that much extra effort and that many resources outside of school to get a grade above a C, especially in the 6th grade
2) If those are the standards for grading they should have been made clear from the start.
3) There should be options for kids who can't come early or stay late because of bussing.

Now the thing about her "choosing to go on the field trip" - I wouldn't mention that at all.  It doesn't really matter that she doesn't teach 7th grade.  Maybe she is the teacher who goes to the effort to arrange trips and organize so she goes.  Maybe she has connections at the place they are visiting.  Maybe her area of expertise ties in to the place they are visiting. Maybe the 7th grade teacher wanted to stay home for some private reason.  There are lots of valid reasons for her to be on that trip.  I also wouldn't bring up the thing about the stomach bug.  When she said she wanted it to be short for reasons she won't go into, I assume she means she is suffering but went go into detail about the icky symptoms.  I think you are over thinking that one.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long)
Post by: SeptGurl on October 25, 2012, 09:35:02 PM
Thanks so much for all the replies so far. I'm grateful that you've read this HUGE post.

I have been so concerned about helicoptering. Normally, I'd want DS to work this out on his own, but this is beyond him. Now that we have experienced the amount of planning that is required to complete all of this work, I hope we have better idea of what we can anticipate with other science units this year. DS did drop the ball initially in planning his C-level work this time, so we'll expect him to improve on that for next time. He worked very hard to get himself positioned to earn an A this time, and we think he was lucky that the deadline was extended.

Yes, a kid can't earn better than a C without spending considerable time outside of class. Class time will only allow them to complete the C-level work. If the kids want a better grade, then the teacher advised that they should plan to do C-level work outside class to give themselves the time needed to do the B- and A-level work.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long)
Post by: SeptGurl on October 25, 2012, 09:40:27 PM
Some of what you are concerned about is completely reasonable, a few points seem nitpicky.  I would drop the nitpicky points so that you can get respectful attention paid to the many valid points.

1)  It should not take that much extra effort and that many resources outside of school to get a grade above a C, especially in the 6th grade
2) If those are the standards for grading they should have been made clear from the start.
3) There should be options for kids who can't come early or stay late because of bussing.

Now the thing about her "choosing to go on the field trip" - I wouldn't mention that at all.  It doesn't really matter that she doesn't teach 7th grade.  Maybe she is the teacher who goes to the effort to arrange trips and organize so she goes.  Maybe she has connections at the place they are visiting.  Maybe her area of expertise ties in to the place they are visiting. Maybe the 7th grade teacher wanted to stay home for some private reason.  There are lots of valid reasons for her to be on that trip.  I also wouldn't bring up the thing about the stomach bug.  When she said she wanted it to be short for reasons she won't go into, I assume she means she is suffering but went go into detail about the icky symptoms.  I think you are over thinking that one.

Thanks. Yes, I agree about the field trip. It might appear to be a choice on her part because it came up so suddenly after her 10/10 e-mail. It just feels off to me given the timing, so that's my intuition talking. It's not something I'd express an opinion about in a meeting other than to say the absence appeared to create a disruption in the workflow. I also completely agree about the stomach flu. It is entirely possible that she was referring to her symptoms and nothing else.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long)
Post by: mmswm on October 25, 2012, 09:42:56 PM
Oh, boy.  There are so many things wrong here. Like a PP, I don't even know where to begin. The whole time I was reading that I kept thinking that I'd love to post the background on my favorite teachers' discussion board and get their takes on the whole thing.

Here's a quick overview of what I see as the primary problems:

Grades should reflect content mastery. Mastery of the state standards is what the grade should depend on.  The C level work should be reflecting the state standards.  As such, a student who has shown mastery of the C level work should be getting an A in the class.  Everything else is extra. 

The teacher is disorganized.  Granted, this whole system seems unreasonably complicated, but she should still be organized enough to communicate effectively with parents.

Lack of supplies.  This, of course, is not the teacher's fault, but it's still her job to design the lessons and assignments around the supplies she has.

Legal issues surrounding time outside of class.  Not only is it unfair to require students come in early or stay late, but most districts I know of interpret educational law as being illegal to punish a student for lacking required resources outside of class.  In other words, if, as a teacher, I assign a project that requires internet access, I must provide appropriate time in class, or I can't assign the project.  I also cannot require a student to be at school outside of class time, and hinge his or her grade on that time.

Title: Re: Teacher situation (long)
Post by: SeptGurl on October 25, 2012, 10:15:51 PM
Oh, boy.  There are so many things wrong here. Like a PP, I don't even know where to begin. The whole time I was reading that I kept thinking that I'd love to post the background on my favorite teachers' discussion board and get their takes on the whole thing.

Here's a quick overview of what I see as the primary problems:

Grades should reflect content mastery. Mastery of the state standards is what the grade should depend on.  The C level work should be reflecting the state standards.  As such, a student who has shown mastery of the C level work should be getting an A in the class.  Everything else is extra.  This is one part of this scenario that has surprised me. The definition of "mastery" seems to be unclear. If "mastery" is defined as C-level, then what do the A- and B-levels represent?

The teacher is disorganized.  Granted, this whole system seems unreasonably complicated, but she should still be organized enough to communicate effectively with parents.

Lack of supplies.  This, of course, is not the teacher's fault, but it's still her job to design the lessons and assignments around the supplies she has. I wholeheartedly agree. The teacher isn't responsible for the quantity of equipment she is assigned, but she should plan around it. I wonder if the outside work is her way of planning around it.

Legal issues surrounding time outside of class.  Not only is it unfair to require students come in early or stay late, but most districts I know of interpret educational law as being illegal to punish a student for lacking required resources outside of class.  In other words, if, as a teacher, I assign a project that requires internet access, I must provide appropriate time in class, or I can't assign the project.  I also cannot require a student to be at school outside of class time, and hinge his or her grade on that time. This is what really concerns me in the bigger picture. If this were a college course and it were clearly outlined in the syllabus at the outset that students must have certain personal resources to earn an A, then I might feel differently about this. This is a 6th grade science class in a public school. Kids don't have a choice about taking this class. It seems to me that students should have equal access to the resources needed to earn an A. We will do what's needed to ensure DS has that opportunity, but other parents may not have that flexibility. I don't know whether this is a district-wide curriculum, the school's curriculum, or the teacher's curriculum. My best guess is that it's district-wide. If it is district-wide, then I wonder how much latitude teachers have to adapt it for their classrooms.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long)
Post by: Sharnita on October 25, 2012, 10:21:03 PM
That is a good question and districts can be a bit bipolar about what they ask of teachers.  I knew a teacher who was scolded for expecting kids to do stuff on the internet because his expectation that they either use the library or school resources was unfair, then they turned around and encouraged teachers to assign kids to do assignments using cell phones based on the assumption that "they all have cell phones".
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long)
Post by: johelenc1 on October 25, 2012, 10:51:18 PM
All I have to say it that is an absurd amount of work for a 6th grader to do to get an A.   ABSURD.   A child shouldn't have to give up his whole life to do hours and hours and hours of extra work to get an A or a B.

I wouldn't definitely take this up with the principal - and whoever implemented the ridiculous A, B and C plan.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long)
Post by: mmswm on October 25, 2012, 11:05:26 PM
Coley, would you mind if I posted the background information on the teacher discussion forum I referred to earlier?  It's an active enough board that one or more of them might have experience with this sort of system and could shed some light on expectations.  It could be that the teacher is misinterpreting the system in regards to grades.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long)
Post by: doodlemor on October 25, 2012, 11:50:58 PM
All I have to say it that is an absurd amount of work for a 6th grader to do to get an A.   ABSURD.   A child shouldn't have to give up his whole life to do hours and hours and hours of extra work to get an A or a B.

I wouldn't definitely take this up with the principal - and whoever implemented the ridiculous A, B and C plan.

Podity, podity, pod!

I too wonder who came up with the plan.  It sounds like it could be the newest *bandwagon,* that everyone is supposed to be on.  When I was teaching it seemed like there was always a new miraculous plan that would solve everything.

When I first read the OP I wondered if the teacher were trying to make the new science curriculum more palatable for the students, that perhaps most students needed more time to perform the allotted tasks.  I wondered if that was why the deadlines were constantly being moved forward. 

If this science curriculum is radically different than the previous one there should have been training for the teachers using it over the summer, and periodic workshops during the year for teachers to work out the kinks.

The disorganization and ridiculous work load needs to be addressed.  The present situation seems like a good way to make kids hate science.  I don't think that 12 year old children should have such a workload for even a few weeks, much less the whole year!

I wonder if anyone else has already complained.  I wonder if any other grade levels are having problems with the new curriculum.  It would be interesting to know how the other science teachers in the building have handled the new curriculum.  It could be that the teacher is extremely disorganized, or that she has been handed an impossible situation.  It bothers me that she didn't answer the emails.

I think that going to the principal is wise.  He/she is ultimately in charge, and needs to remedy the situation.



Title: Re: Teacher situation (long)
Post by: PastryGoddess on October 26, 2012, 01:05:36 AM

Please contact both the principal and possibly the school board.  I'm not a teacher, but it seems really really fishy that students cannot get anything higher than a C unless they come in and do extra work outside of class.


I went to a magnet school for 1 year in junior high and all four years of high school.  While I could come in early and stay late...if I chose. All students in my program would complete their projects in class.  In fact we were expected to do so in order to keep our teacher apprised on our progress.  If we did have a substitute, it didn't matter as we were expected to work on our projects and update progress on the class intranet.  Our teacher could still check on us, even if they weren't there.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long)
Post by: Iris on October 26, 2012, 02:56:13 AM
I am a teacher and I know it's a hard job and normally I'm ready to fight for any other teacher but this situation is waaaaaay off. Either this teacher is simply unable to manage things effectively or this is an unworkable program thrust on her by the district.

I would speak to the principal about this but the first thing I would do is find out whose idea this wretched program was. Some principals will thrust things like this onto teachers, ignoring all objections, and then happily scapegoat the teacher when it turns out to be unworkable.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long)
Post by: bonyk on October 26, 2012, 04:25:31 AM
I suspect an unworkable program thrust upon her by the district or program that she has not been properly trained on.

The C, B, A levels make sense to me, and according the teacher workshops that I've been attending lately, are on par with the direction nation is going with education.  A "C" is on grade level, or meeting standards. "A" and "B" are above standard grades, so the work you do has to exceed grade level standards. 

I think a conversation with the principal is in order.  She/He needs to be aware of the frustrations on the parent/student side of this program.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long)
Post by: SeptGurl on October 26, 2012, 05:09:35 AM
Coley, would you mind if I posted the background information on the teacher discussion forum I referred to earlier?  It's an active enough board that one or more of them might have experience with this sort of system and could shed some light on expectations.  It could be that the teacher is misinterpreting the system in regards to grades.

No, I don't mind at all if you post the background info. It would be great to have more input about the expectations. Thank you!
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long)
Post by: Lady Snowdon on October 26, 2012, 06:48:29 AM
This is ridiculous.  I don't think I had to do that much outside work for my International Baccalaureate classes in 11th and 12th grades, much less in 6th grade!  The expectation that, in order to earn an A, you not only have to complete your standard, basic layer of learning, but then have to complete two extra layers (in the time allotted for one layer) seems almost impossible.  I'm generally pretty good at picking things up quickly and getting them done, but this plan doesn't seem to allow for any issues, sick days, etc.  Not to mention other classes!  I definitely think a meeting with the teacher and the principal is in order.  If this is being forced by the school district, they really should know how it's affecting kid's lives.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long)
Post by: secretrebel on October 26, 2012, 07:21:39 AM
Your chronology clearly explains the issues.

I don't think it's fair for a child at that age to need to do extra assignments out of usual class time to achieve a B or A grade. I also don't think it's fair that he's not being allowed to work on his A/B stream assignments in class because students in the C stream are using all the equipment. This child should be given work at his level in class time.

Definitely go to the principal. Not just because communication is poor but because this system seems genuinely unworkable and I'm sure the principal would want to encourage rather than discourage children who have ambitions for a grade higher than a C.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long)
Post by: Sharnita on October 26, 2012, 07:47:22 AM
I can imagine that it is a program that somebody in the district misunderstood.  It might be a teacher or might be an adminitrator who thought that A/B/C level meant the grades needed to correspond.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long)
Post by: weeblewobble on October 26, 2012, 08:00:59 AM
Moving target deadlines.  Inconsistency.  Missing her own deadlines for posting assignments.  This is ridiculous.

Either she wants the kids to work at their own pace or she doesn't.  She seems to be holding up your son so the other kids can catch up.  If she continues to jerk you around, I would go to the principal or department head with your timeline. 
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long)
Post by: Sharnita on October 26, 2012, 08:03:37 AM
I don't have a problem with her moving deadlines because she was sick and not there to help the kids, explain or work with them. These assignments sound (too) complex and I wouldn't leave it up to a sub to explain or figure out.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long)
Post by: SeptGurl on October 26, 2012, 08:13:19 AM
Update:

I took DS to school at 7 a.m. and walked him to the classroom. Another boy was ahead of us in the hallway, heading to the same classroom. When we arrived at the classroom, another student was already there. So that's three kids arriving at 7 a.m. to use the four available microscopes. A fourth kid showed up after we did.

The teacher saw DS and said, "Good morning." Then she saw me and said, "Can I help you?" I said, "Good morning. I'm (DS)'s mother, and I'm here to make sure he gets to do his experiment this morning." The teacher said, "Oh. Okay ..."

DS put his belongings down at a table with a microscope on it. He took a piece of paper out of his binder with the plan for his experiment and his data table. He approached the teacher and asked for salt. She said, "Salt? What kind of salt?" DS seemed confused. She then said, "Table salt?" DS said yes. She asked him why he wanted it. He explained that it was for the experiment. She asked to see his plan for the experiment. He got it from the table and read it to her. There was some back and forth between them about the nature of the experiment and DS's ideas about how it would work. She decided to give him the salt. This took about 10 minutes.

Getting out the salt involved opening a cabinet in the classroom, taking out a container, and giving DS a portion. He got the salt. The teacher had her back to me while she put some items back in the cabinet. I asked DS if he had what he needed. He said, yes, so I left without saying anything more.

Right now, his extra time before school has ended and he's now in his first period class. I'll have to wait until after school to find out whether he was able to do the whole experiment this morning.

I just want to say again how much I appreciate everyone's input on this. You guys are really great. Thank you.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long)
Post by: SeptGurl on October 26, 2012, 08:33:09 AM
Moving target deadlines.  Inconsistency.  Missing her own deadlines for posting assignments.  This is ridiculous.

Either she wants the kids to work at their own pace or she doesn't.  She seems to be holding up your son so the other kids can catch up.  If she continues to jerk you around, I would go to the principal or department head with your timeline.

The bolded is precisely the thought that was going through my mind when I was driving back home this morning after dropping DS off. I completely support self-paced learning, and I do think it can be more motivating for kids. The faster-paced kids would get the opportunity to expand their knowledge of the concepts. But if she's holding up the faster-paced kids, then I'm afraid it will affect their motivation level.

The information provided by the teacher states that the kids can come in before school or during their study hall period if they believe they are falling behind or if they are having trouble understanding the material. DS was told he could come in early today to do his experiment, but he apparently is not behind and he isn't having trouble with the material. Instead, he had to come in early to do the work because he wasn't allowed to do it in class.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long)
Post by: Klein Bottle on October 26, 2012, 08:47:04 AM
That is a good question and districts can be a bit bipolar about what they ask of teachers.  I knew a teacher who was scolded for expecting kids to do stuff on the internet because his expectation that they either use the library or school resources was unfair, then they turned around and encouraged teachers to assign kids to do assignments using cell phones based on the assumption that "they all have cell phones".

Wow, every school district is different.  My own kid just this past Monday had to serve a day's out of school suspension for using his cell phone in his Mythology class.  He was using it to look up links he needed for a group project, as there was some issue with the classroom's computers that day.  (Note: I fully supported the punishment he received, as it clearly states in the student handbook that there is to be *no* use of cell phones in class, no exceptions.  He and I both signed off on the handbook at the beginning of the school year, and I am not and never will be *that* parent who thinks her kid can do no wrong.  In fact, he was disciplined further at home.  It just surprises me that there are some schools where it's actively encouraged for students to use smart phones, and even more ridiculous, that it's assumed everyone has one or has access to one.)

Coley, I admire your restraint in this situation.  Some of us have to work, and there would be great difficulty in getting the kid to school so early.  Students should have to opportunity to earn high grades in the allotted classroom time, not counting homework; that's what I'd have the biggest problem accepting, in your situation.  Do you think it would be useful to meet with the principal just for clarification of the policy?  I'd be curious if this is something instituted by the school district, or just the crazy plan of an incompetent teacher.  She sounds terrible. 
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATE #26
Post by: Jones on October 26, 2012, 08:49:51 AM
I have been reading this thread, absolutely stunned.

First, I don't believe I had that much outside-of-class work when I was in advanced biology and chemistry in high school. We partnered up and got it done in class.

Second, the run around the teacher is giving you is ridiculous. Changing up the due date schedule seemingly willy nilly (sorry WillyNilly) is unprofessional, at best. Not even posting an A-grade requirement, much less making materials available in the classroom until after the original due date, although asked about it numerous times? Good grief!

I also can't believe how she put your DS through a question and answer session over a spoon of table salt. The stuff is sold everywhere for <US$1/pound. 50 cents on sale. Almost as cheap as water. Yeesh.

I would almost definitely send your timeline to the principal, as to when projects were released and due dates changed. Ask him/her to speak with the teacher about having clear syllabuses (syllabi?) at the beginning of the quarter. I am certain you are not the only parent confused about all this, and it's not helping the children at all. We live in a scientific world and it will be a shame for the kids to be turned off to the subject at such a young age.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long)
Post by: Sharnita on October 26, 2012, 08:51:36 AM
That is a good question and districts can be a bit bipolar about what they ask of teachers.  I knew a teacher who was scolded for expecting kids to do stuff on the internet because his expectation that they either use the library or school resources was unfair, then they turned around and encouraged teachers to assign kids to do assignments using cell phones based on the assumption that "they all have cell phones".

Wow, every school district is different.  My own kid just this past Monday had to serve a day's out of school suspension for using his cell phone in his Mythology class.  He was using it to look up links he needed for a group project, as there was some issue with the classroom's computers that day.  (Note: I fully supported the punishment he received, as it clearly states in the student handbook that there is to be *no* use of cell phones in class, no exceptions.  He and I both signed off on the handbook at the beginning of the school year, and I am not and never will be *that* parent who thinks her kid can do no wrong.  In fact, he was disciplined further at home.  It just surprises me that there are some schools where it's actively encouraged for students to use smart phones, and even more ridiculous, that it's assumed everyone has one or has access to one.)

Coley, I admire your restraint in this situation.  Some of us have to work, and there would be great difficulty in getting the kid to school so early.  Students should have to opportunity to earn high grades in the allotted classroom time, not counting homework; that's what I'd have the biggest problem accepting, in your situation.  Do you think it would be useful to meet with the principal just for clarification of the policy?  I'd be curious if this is something instituted by the school district, or just the crazy plan of an incompetent teacher.  She sounds terrible.

Oh yeah, there is a policy that kids can't have cell phones seen at any time which make the whole thing even more insane.  It just shows you why teachers don't really know what is expected of them
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATE #26
Post by: Thipu1 on October 26, 2012, 09:02:48 AM
I'm neither a teacher nor a parent but this assignment seems insanely convoluted for a 6th Grade student.  Add in all the changes in direction and even many University students would have problems with it. 

I also have a problem because it seems the teacher wants to manage a complex class project solely though Email.  To me, that's suspicious.  it seems like she isn't quite sure how to handle what has turned into a total mess.  Her confusion when DS asked for salt just complicates the thing further. 

Surely, other parents and students in the class are experiencing the same confusion and frustration you are.  If you can get together and make a united presentation to the Principal you will avoid being labeled a 'Helicopter Parent'.   

You most certainly are not.  You want your child to receive a good education.  Making it almost impossible for a student to get better than a 'C' without devoting his whole time to an assignment is cruel.   

Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATE #26
Post by: Zilla on October 26, 2012, 09:22:07 AM
I would be livid.  I can't imagine a school policy that is approved where the kids in order to acheive an A or B would have to come in before school or use up study hall or wait till the C layer kids finish.  I just can't and I would be requesting a meeting with the principal, teacher with a printout of the entire website,  a copy of both your OP's contents and email chain.  He or She would have had to approve this new method of teaching and let it be explained to you fully how it should work.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATE #26
Post by: camlan on October 26, 2012, 09:26:13 AM
The concept of what the teacher is doing isn't new. Back in the 1970s, we had "contracts" in high school. The requirements for getting an A, B or C for the quarter were clearly spelled out, and you had to decide at the beginning of the quarter which grade you would try to earn. For an English class, a C would require a three-page paper, a grade of 80 or higher on 70% of your vocabulary quizzes, and an oral presentation. To get an A or a B, you had longer papers, high quiz grades, the oral presentation and one or more shorter papers. You could get a grade lower than what you contracted for, if the work wasn't good enough, but no matter how good your work, you couldn't get a grade higher than what you contracted for.

But the difference is that a) we were a few years older, b) we didn't need class time to do most of the work--the papers and such could be done at home, c) the things that had to be done in class--the teacher gave us ample class time and most importantly, d) we knew from Day One what we had to do, how to do it and when it was due.

The teacher needs help. I'd go to the principal and ask that she gets it. It could be that she was forced to use a system that is unfamiliar to her, but that means the school has to get her the right training. Because the education of every child she teaches shouldn't suffer.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATE #26
Post by: BeagleMommy on October 26, 2012, 09:41:56 AM
This entire system seems flawed.  Does it allow for children who may have learning difficulties?  It doesn''t seem so.

Coley, I would go to the principal and show him your timeline and any emails from the teacher.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATE #26
Post by: Slartibartfast on October 26, 2012, 09:43:29 AM
Is this a first-year teacher and a new course?  It sounds to me like she is flailing trying to cover the material she's assigned, and she's not done a good job of planning out how long the sections will take.  It also sounds like she needs to leave better notes for the substitute teachers, so the class time with subs isn't wasted.

Regardless of the teacher's situation, you need to talk to the principal like YESTERDAY if you want anything to change before next semester.  This isn't a little attitude issue or a difference of opinion between the teacher and your son - fixing it would involve an overhaul of how she's currently teaching, and that's not really something a parent can ask for directly.  It is something, however, a parent can talk to the administration about and the administration can mandate to get fixed pronto.

I think - to start with - you should seek clarification from the adminstration on some basic points:

1) Are they really required to do more than three times the work to get an A instead of a C?  If so, this should be in the syllabus and spelled out for parents as well as students.

2) Are they really required to come in before school every day if they want an A?  Why aren't they allowed do A-level work in class?  What about students who can't come in that early - are they not allowed to get better than a C?

3) Why are the substitute teachers just babysitting the class?  Why can't the regular teacher leave something for the students to do so they can contribute to their work and bettering their grades?

4) If a deadline/timeline is changed, is there a school-wide procedure for how this is supposed to be communicated?  It's unfortunate that the teacher was out so much and the deadline kept getting pushed back - it's frustrating, but it happens.  However, it would have been much less stress for the students and the parents if the teacher had clearly communicated at the beginning of the semester what the deadlines were expected to be and what the procedure would be if they were extended.

I suspect getting "clarification" on these problems will let you delve into explaining the rest of the issues, without you being "that mom".
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATE #26
Post by: GSNW on October 26, 2012, 09:45:40 AM
I teach middle school science.  I know my department would NOT be pleased with this kind of program, but we could work with it.  I basically agree with everything mmswm said, and the biggest issue here seems to be teacher disorganization.  I can't stand this.  It's a teacher's job to be organized and prepared and SOME teachers act like being organized is a special quality they just don't possess.  Videos for two days while kids have projects pending?  Inexcusable.  A denial of salt because there was too much going on?  Manage your classroom, lady.  I know this is a harsh critique but it is a major peeve of mine and I applaud OP for getting involved here. 
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATE #26
Post by: Sharnita on October 26, 2012, 09:51:16 AM
As far as the sub babysitting the class, I think that is the reality in a lot of places.  Subs do not always have degrees, let alone degrees in the content area.  They frequently have very little knowledge of the material.  I had subs that completely ignored the lesson plans I left.  Some showed a video they brought, some let kids talk or screw around instead. Some tried to teach the materiel but got it so wrong that I ended up wishing they hadn't tried.

Leaving a sub with lab materials would be particularly tricky.  I am sure some districts have less of a problem with that but it can really limit what a teacher leaves as far as lesson plans.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATE #26
Post by: SeptGurl on October 26, 2012, 10:09:35 AM
Is this a first-year teacher and a new course?  It sounds to me like she is flailing trying to cover the material she's assigned, and she's not done a good job of planning out how long the sections will take.  It also sounds like she needs to leave better notes for the substitute teachers, so the class time with subs isn't wasted.

Regardless of the teacher's situation, you need to talk to the principal like YESTERDAY if you want anything to change before next semester.  This isn't a little attitude issue or a difference of opinion between the teacher and your son - fixing it would involve an overhaul of how she's currently teaching, and that's not really something a parent can ask for directly.  It is something, however, a parent can talk to the administration about and the administration can mandate to get fixed pronto.

I think - to start with - you should seek clarification from the adminstration on some basic points:

1) Are they really required to do more than three times the work to get an A instead of a C?  If so, this should be in the syllabus and spelled out for parents as well as students.

2) Are they really required to come in before school every day if they want an A?  Why aren't they allowed do A-level work in class?  What about students who can't come in that early - are they not allowed to get better than a C?

3) Why are the substitute teachers just babysitting the class?  Why can't the regular teacher leave something for the students to do so they can contribute to their work and bettering their grades?

4) If a deadline/timeline is changed, is there a school-wide procedure for how this is supposed to be communicated?  It's unfortunate that the teacher was out so much and the deadline kept getting pushed back - it's frustrating, but it happens.  However, it would have been much less stress for the students and the parents if the teacher had clearly communicated at the beginning of the semester what the deadlines were expected to be and what the procedure would be if they were extended.

I suspect getting "clarification" on these problems will let you delve into explaining the rest of the issues, without you being "that mom".

These are great questions. Thank you. To answer your question about whether she is a first-year teacher, I don't think she is. I don't know how long she has been teaching, but I'm fairly certain she has been around for a number of years. She is at least as old as I am (mid-40s), but it's possible she entered teaching later in her career.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATE #26
Post by: SeptGurl on October 26, 2012, 10:18:05 AM
I teach middle school science.  I know my department would NOT be pleased with this kind of program, but we could work with it.  I basically agree with everything mmswm said, and the biggest issue here seems to be teacher disorganization.  I can't stand this.  It's a teacher's job to be organized and prepared and SOME teachers act like being organized is a special quality they just don't possess.  Videos for two days while kids have projects pending?  Inexcusable.  A denial of salt because there was too much going on?  Manage your classroom, lady.  I know this is a harsh critique but it is a major peeve of mine and I applaud OP for getting involved here.

Exactly. It appears that the disorganization is driving the chaos.

(Edited for typo.)
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATE #26
Post by: Deetee on October 26, 2012, 11:34:16 AM
On  re-reading, this really seems like a teacher problem, not neccesarily the curriculum. After all, your son has had about maybe 8* classes (between sickness and trips and refusing to get your son salt) where he was unable to work on anything for grades. If he had been able to work on the projects in that time, he would have been able to cut down a LOT on the ridiculous amount of work at home and before school.
 
If the teacher were organised this system might work.

*I didn't go back to count so I'm open to correction, but it was a lot of wasted time.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATE #26
Post by: Girlie on October 26, 2012, 12:17:29 PM
I realize that the teacher has offered the advice that coming in early or study hall seems to slightly assuage the difficulty of parents who are otherwise unable to get their kids to school early, but really, don't the kids have other classes that also need study hall focus?

If these had been the requirements when I was in middle school, I'd have been out of luck. My mom was a single mom who usually had an overtime shift requiring her to be at work at 6:00am. She didn't get off until 5:00, so staying after wasn't an option, either. The bus didn't drop us off until about ten minutes before the bell rang for school to start. We didn't have a computer, and if I was still that age, my mother would not be buying me a cell phone. I guess my A/B average would have been down the toilet.  :-\
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATE #26
Post by: bopper on October 26, 2012, 12:42:37 PM
I would talk about this with the guidance counselor and/or the head of the science dept.
Tell them that you have been led to believe that C-level work = grade of C, B-level = B, etc.
Is that the case?  That you were not aware of this at first but now you are.

So you encouraged your son to work through the C and B level work and if possible, the A work.
Then summarize when he got the A level work assignments and the number of days the teacher was not available so he could not do them. 
Ask them how this is supposed to work because it seems that unless you go in early and stay late, you cannot complete all possible assignments.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long)
Post by: magicdomino on October 26, 2012, 12:46:42 PM
So, basically, a kid can't get higher than a C in this class unless they come to extra classes?  I don't understand this, and honestly, this seems very wrong.  Combined with her lack of communication, I think you are correct to attempt a face-to-face discussion with her and if that doesn't work speak with the principal.

My mother was anything but a helicopter parent, and she would be going straight to the principal, and on to the school board, if necessary.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long)
Post by: weeblewobble on October 26, 2012, 01:02:28 PM
Moving target deadlines.  Inconsistency.  Missing her own deadlines for posting assignments.  This is ridiculous.

Either she wants the kids to work at their own pace or she doesn't.  She seems to be holding up your son so the other kids can catch up.  If she continues to jerk you around, I would go to the principal or department head with your timeline.

The bolded is precisely the thought that was going through my mind when I was driving back home this morning after dropping DS off. I completely support self-paced learning, and I do think it can be more motivating for kids. The faster-paced kids would get the opportunity to expand their knowledge of the concepts. But if she's holding up the faster-paced kids, then I'm afraid it will affect their motivation level.

The information provided by the teacher states that the kids can come in before school or during their study hall period if they believe they are falling behind or if they are having trouble understanding the material. DS was told he could come in early today to do his experiment, but he apparently is not behind and he isn't having trouble with the material. Instead, he had to come in early to do the work because he wasn't allowed to do it in class.

There's a weird vibe to her disorganization and "confusion."  Particularly the refusal to let your son use a microscope and the hoops your son had to hop through just to get some salt. She seems to be saying, "Ugh, would you just be quiet and accept your C so I don't have to make any extra effort to accommodate your A-B work?"  That would not be OK with me as a parent, and knowing many school administrators, I can guarantee you that it would not be OK with this teacher's superiors, either.  The sooner you bring this to their attention, the better chance her students have of getting a solid science education this year. 
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATE #26
Post by: jayhawk on October 26, 2012, 01:41:52 PM
I have to agree with the prior posters and I think Weeble Wobble hit it the head.  I have an 8th grader and a HS Junior and these seems like a LOT of extra-class work to get an A.  I think the curriculum or the teacher is just setting these kids up for failure, frankly.  Have you had a chance to speak to other parents?  If they share their feelings, I think it would be a good idea to set up a meeting with the teacher and then the principal if necessary to calmly and methodically set out your concerns with the work, the organization problems and communication issues. 

Keep climbing the hierarchy until you get some solid answers.  Are other classes set up this way? 

Just seems hinky to me.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATE #26
Post by: camlan on October 26, 2012, 01:49:32 PM
I'm also confused by the fact that the kids supposedly can use their study halls to do more work.

If they can't use the equipment in their own scheduled class, how is there going to be enough equipment for them to use when they are there during their study hall, and another class is in the room, using the equipment? Or if their study hall is at a time when the classroom is used for something else, by a different teacher, who is not going to welcome experiments going on during the class?

It's just all too hit or miss for comfort.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATE #26
Post by: Thuringwethyl on October 26, 2012, 01:52:12 PM
No advice but I just have to say:

If I had encountered this kind of situation in my college classes (changing grade requirements, prevented from working in class, given the run-around like your son has) I would have either dropped the class or gone with other students to complain to the dean*. This is not acceptable.

*Or whoever handles student complaints;I'm not sure as I never had any.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATE #26
Post by: SeptGurl on October 26, 2012, 02:06:06 PM
I have to agree with the prior posters and I think Weeble Wobble hit it the head.  I have an 8th grader and a HS Junior and these seems like a LOT of extra-class work to get an A.  I think the curriculum or the teacher is just setting these kids up for failure, frankly.  Have you had a chance to speak to other parents?  If they share their feelings, I think it would be a good idea to set up a meeting with the teacher and then the principal if necessary to calmly and methodically set out your concerns with the work, the organization problems and communication issues. 

Keep climbing the hierarchy until you get some solid answers.  Are other classes set up this way? 

Just seems hinky to me.

Unfortunately, we don't really know most of the kids in his class, and a directory isn't provided, so we have no way to contact the parents. The kids are divided on teams. Then within the teams, the kids rotate through various classes throughout the day. They aren't all in the same the classes at the same time. DS has mentioned a few kids in his classes, but I'm not sure he even knows their last names. I know of a girl who is on DS's team that came from the same elementary school. If she's in his science class, I may e-mail her mom. We've done some committee work together.

No, the other classes aren't set up this way. The other curricula are pretty straightforward. The kids do work and receive grades. There are no layers, and the workload outside of class is manageable.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATE #26
Post by: jedikaiti on October 26, 2012, 02:08:50 PM
I'm still trying to figure out when he has time to do any other schoolwork - it sounds like trying to keep up with the teacher's fickle scheduling and going in early/staying late/working at home must take all the time he has!
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATE #26
Post by: SeptGurl on October 26, 2012, 02:09:25 PM
I'm also confused by the fact that the kids supposedly can use their study halls to do more work.

If they can't use the equipment in their own scheduled class, how is there going to be enough equipment for them to use when they are there during their study hall, and another class is in the room, using the equipment? Or if their study hall is at a time when the classroom is used for something else, by a different teacher, who is not going to welcome experiments going on during the class?

It's just all too hit or miss for comfort.

If I understand the study hall arrangements correctly, students go to a classroom that is not in use for that class period. The teacher for that classroom supervises the study hall. If kids have work to do for another class and need help or equipment, they have to go to that teacher's classroom, assuming he or she doesn't have another class at that time.

I should mention that the kids don't have study hall every day. It alternates with P.E.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATE #26
Post by: SeptGurl on October 26, 2012, 02:11:28 PM
No advice but I just have to say:

If I had encountered this kind of situation in my college classes (changing grade requirements, prevented from working in class, given the run-around like your son has) I would have either dropped the class or gone with other students to complain to the dean*. This is not acceptable.

*Or whoever handles student complaints;I'm not sure as I never had any.

I teach at the college level, and I can virtually guarantee that if I did what this teacher is doing, I'd have students and administrators all over me about it. In fact, it could be grounds for a grade appeal if a student's grade was adversely affected by last-minute changes or lack of clarity in expectations.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATE #26
Post by: SeptGurl on October 26, 2012, 02:21:20 PM
I'm still trying to figure out when he has time to do any other schoolwork - it sounds like trying to keep up with the teacher's fickle scheduling and going in early/staying late/working at home must take all the time he has!

The past couple of weeks have been rather hectic for him. He's a hard worker, and he is motivated to succeed in school, so he puts in the time. I suspect that he will learn a lot about time management this year. Sometimes people have to learn it the hard way. He usually has homework in 2-3 subjects each day. However, he does have several extracurricular activities, so he's a pretty busy kid.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATE #26
Post by: SingActDance on October 26, 2012, 02:39:48 PM
I don't believe in homework for exactly the reasons that the OP stated, so I'm a bit biased. Many children simply do not have home environments that are conducive to homework. I believe that a child should be able to attain A based solely on work done in class. So I think the system is more flawed than the teacher. Was this the teacher's decision, or a school system decision?
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATE #26
Post by: Peregrine on October 26, 2012, 02:48:40 PM
This is seriously messed up.  I remember junior high science classes.  Bookwork was assigned for home, lectures and labs were done in the class room, and anything requiring a computer was done at school....But then I was in junior high in the early 90's when home computers were not nearly as common as they are now.  I still remember typing some of my early junior high papers on my Mom's typewriter.....

I cannot recall ever having something this ridiculous in school....and if I had, my parents would have been at the principals office immediately.  If they received no satisfactory explanation they would have demanded my withdrawl from the class and entrance into another, or would have pulled me from school period.  They were not helicopter parents, but they didn't suffer fools and educational fads gladly.

If it was my child, and I didn't get a satisfactory explanation from the teacher and principal I would ask to have my childs team changed.  In the grand scheme of things 6th grade science isn't going to make or break him, but it does provide the foundation for later scientific education, and losing an entire year to an idiotic teacher could cause a lot of catch up.

Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATE #26
Post by: CakeBeret on October 26, 2012, 03:24:24 PM
Good grief, it's 6th grade science, not a master's thesis. :o

I think you should absolutely address this with the principal and, if necessary, the school board. I agree with PPs that this structure, with this teacher's implementation, can have some seriously damaging effects on the students.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATE #26
Post by: SeptGurl on October 26, 2012, 03:37:49 PM
OP here with another update.

DS was able to finish his experiment today. He did not finish it before school. He said he had to go in during study hall to finish it. I asked him what happened during the class period today. Videos. In fact, they didn't finish watching the videos, so they will be watching videos during class on Monday and Tuesday. The last day to work in class on the projects will be Wednesday. This means, of course, that any kids who want to work on projects Monday or Tuesday will have to come in early or use their study hall. As I understand it from DS, everything is due Wednesday.

I am so glad that I got DS there early this morning to do his experiment and that I stuck around to make sure the teacher let him do the work. He has that behind him, so he can concentrate on writing the research paper for the experiment between now and Wednesday. He will get it the A-layer work turned in, but I wonder about the other kids.

I asked DS if the teacher gave him a hard time about the fact that I was there this morning. He said she didn't say anything directly about me, but she did make a vague remark that he didn't understand and doesn't remember now. He said he told her that he didn't understand what she meant, and she said, "You know what I mean." He didn't.

I'm thinking that I may wait to approach the principal about all of this after Nov. 5 when the teacher says she will have the grades updated.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: Jones on October 26, 2012, 03:48:14 PM
You are much more patient than I, which is probably wise, but daaarn I was seeing fire just reading your update, IRL I'd be putting on my shoes and heading to the school for a meeting.

WATCHING VIDEOS when there is work to be done! Making a snide remark to a student about their parent!
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: WillyNilly on October 26, 2012, 03:50:18 PM
I really feel for the kids.  All of them - even your son who got his stuff done (because he got it done at a great personal cost to himself) - this teacher is setting them up for failure.  Every kid should have the opportunity to get an A based solely on classwork, done during class hours.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: Deetee on October 26, 2012, 03:53:19 PM
I strongly suggest that you approach the principal right now before any grades are released. The process, not the outcome is the problem and even if your son gets an A, it was a poor process.

Also, your complaints have more weight if they are NOT associated with a grade.

modify: This doesn't need to be a complaint. This should be more of a heads-up for the principal. The principal cannot do his/her job effectively unless they know what's going on. So help the principal deal with this situation as well as possible.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: WillyNilly on October 26, 2012, 03:56:54 PM
Ok here's what I don't get.  I guess things are really really different in other states?  'Cause in my state & city schools, and teachers, are ranked by performance of students.  Wouldn't it be in a teacher's best interest for themselves (their job security) and for their school (budgets) to have more "A" students then less?
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: SeptGurl on October 26, 2012, 04:00:22 PM
I strongly suggest that you approach the principal right now before any grades are released. The process, not the outcome is the problem and even if your son gets an A, it was a poor process.

Also, your complaints have more weight if they are NOT associated with a grade.

modify: This doesn't need to be a complaint. This should be more of a heads-up for the principal. The principal cannot do his/her job effectively unless they know what's going on. So help the principal deal with this situation as well as possible.

I understand where you're coming from. You make a good point, and in the bigger picture I agree 100% that the process is the problem. I am concerned about the possibility of retaliation with DS's grade, which is why I was leaning toward waiting. Thoughts?
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: Sharnita on October 26, 2012, 04:03:00 PM
Ok here's what I don't get.  I guess things are really really different in other states?  'Cause in my state & city schools, and teachers, are ranked by performance of students.  Wouldn't it be in a teacher's best interest for themselves (their job security) and for their school (budgets) to have more "A" students then less?

Not only does it differ by state but by district.  Also, she might be told this is how she is to measure the students. And the idea of what performance is varies widely. Whether it is judged by a grade, a test score, what happens to be going on when an administrator visits.  Then there is the question of how you can compare teachers who have a lot of special needs students on their classes to teachers who happen to have a higher number of high performing students, or teachers who have kids transfer from another classroom ...
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: AngelicGamer on October 26, 2012, 04:03:57 PM
I strongly suggest that you approach the principal right now before any grades are released. The process, not the outcome is the problem and even if your son gets an A, it was a poor process.

Also, your complaints have more weight if they are NOT associated with a grade.

modify: This doesn't need to be a complaint. This should be more of a heads-up for the principal. The principal cannot do his/her job effectively unless they know what's going on. So help the principal deal with this situation as well as possible.

I understand where you're coming from. You make a good point, and in the bigger picture I agree 100% that the process is the problem. I am concerned about the possibility of retaliation with DS's grade, which is why I was leaning toward waiting. Thoughts?

I believe the teacher would be seen as petty, at least by me.  On the document side: Does your DS have homework / stuff that has already been graded?  If so, how are the grades for that?  Because, if he's getting As and then the teacher, after a meeting with you ant the principal, drops it to a C, you'd have proof to call another meeting.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: Moray on October 26, 2012, 04:07:56 PM
I strongly suggest that you approach the principal right now before any grades are released. The process, not the outcome is the problem and even if your son gets an A, it was a poor process.

Also, your complaints have more weight if they are NOT associated with a grade.

modify: This doesn't need to be a complaint. This should be more of a heads-up for the principal. The principal cannot do his/her job effectively unless they know what's going on. So help the principal deal with this situation as well as possible.

I understand where you're coming from. You make a good point, and in the bigger picture I agree 100% that the process is the problem. I am concerned about the possibility of retaliation with DS's grade, which is why I was leaning toward waiting. Thoughts?

I'd say that you have a better chance of having your concerns taken seriously if you speak up before grades are out. If the teacher is foolish enough to engage in petty retaliation, well, on her own head be it. Address that when the time comes. Grades can be appealed and changed as needed.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: Deetee on October 26, 2012, 04:09:05 PM
I strongly suggest that you approach the principal right now before any grades are released. The process, not the outcome is the problem and even if your son gets an A, it was a poor process.

Also, your complaints have more weight if they are NOT associated with a grade.

modify: This doesn't need to be a complaint. This should be more of a heads-up for the principal. The principal cannot do his/her job effectively unless they know what's going on. So help the principal deal with this situation as well as possible.

I understand where you're coming from. You make a good point, and in the bigger picture I agree 100% that the process is the problem. I am concerned about the possibility of retaliation with DS's grade, which is why I was leaning toward waiting. Thoughts?

If you are concerned about retaliation, bring that up with principal and let him/her know that you wish to be anonymous until the grades are released. 80% of the issues are affecting all the students and I think a good principal should be able to approach the problem without singling out a student. As at least four students are coming in before class, your son is not the only one affected by this.

So ask that the principal approach the teaching as a whole, not the effect on your son.

I can also say that messing with a students grade is something that is so frowned upon that it is hard to believe a teacher would do that. (I taught and if there was a semblance of a possibility that a students grade was dependent on anything but their work there were some serious mechanisms in place to ensure that would not happen).
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: SeptGurl on October 26, 2012, 04:09:24 PM
Ok here's what I don't get.  I guess things are really really different in other states?  'Cause in my state & city schools, and teachers, are ranked by performance of students.  Wouldn't it be in a teacher's best interest for themselves (their job security) and for their school (budgets) to have more "A" students then less?

Not only does it differ by state but by district.  Also, she might be told this is how she is to measure the students. And the idea of what performance is varies widely. Whether it is judged by a grade, a test score, what happens to be going on when an administrator visits.  Then there is the question of how you can compare teachers who have a lot of special needs students on their classes to teachers who happen to have a higher number of high performing students, or teachers who have kids transfer from another classroom ...

Yes, here we have a state assessment that all the public schools must use. The kids take standardized tests for reading, writing, math, and science. School and district performance is determined based on the results of the state assessment.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: Sharnita on October 26, 2012, 04:10:40 PM
Ok here's what I don't get.  I guess things are really really different in other states?  'Cause in my state & city schools, and teachers, are ranked by performance of students.  Wouldn't it be in a teacher's best interest for themselves (their job security) and for their school (budgets) to have more "A" students then less?

Not only does it differ by state but by district.  Also, she might be told this is how she is to measure the students. And the idea of what performance is varies widely. Whether it is judged by a grade, a test score, what happens to be going on when an administrator visits.  Then there is the question of how you can compare teachers who have a lot of special needs students on their classes to teachers who happen to have a higher number of high performing students, or teachers who have kids transfer from another classroom ...

Yes, here we have a state assessment that all the public schools must use. The kids take standardized tests for reading, writing, math, and science. School and district performance is determined based on the results of the state assessment.

Are those scores used to determine teacher evaluations? 
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: Jones on October 26, 2012, 04:11:13 PM
Grades can indeed be appealed; I had a grade in high school changed from a C to an A after a summer project once. Very happy about that, I'd depended on the change to keep up my A- average.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: SeptGurl on October 26, 2012, 04:14:20 PM
I strongly suggest that you approach the principal right now before any grades are released. The process, not the outcome is the problem and even if your son gets an A, it was a poor process.

Also, your complaints have more weight if they are NOT associated with a grade.

modify: This doesn't need to be a complaint. This should be more of a heads-up for the principal. The principal cannot do his/her job effectively unless they know what's going on. So help the principal deal with this situation as well as possible.

I understand where you're coming from. You make a good point, and in the bigger picture I agree 100% that the process is the problem. I am concerned about the possibility of retaliation with DS's grade, which is why I was leaning toward waiting. Thoughts?

I believe the teacher would be seen as petty, at least by me.  On the document side: Does your DS have homework / stuff that has already been graded?  If so, how are the grades for that?  Because, if he's getting As and then the teacher, after a meeting with you ant the principal, drops it to a C, you'd have proof to call another meeting.

Right now, his posted grades show that he has 99% in science. On the point sheet for these projects (which haven't been posted as official grades yet), he only has scores for his C-layer work. He has missed 4 of the total possible points for the C-layer, which I believe is 76/80. She hasn't graded the B-layer work that he turned in last week.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: SeptGurl on October 26, 2012, 04:15:24 PM
Ok here's what I don't get.  I guess things are really really different in other states?  'Cause in my state & city schools, and teachers, are ranked by performance of students.  Wouldn't it be in a teacher's best interest for themselves (their job security) and for their school (budgets) to have more "A" students then less?

Not only does it differ by state but by district.  Also, she might be told this is how she is to measure the students. And the idea of what performance is varies widely. Whether it is judged by a grade, a test score, what happens to be going on when an administrator visits.  Then there is the question of how you can compare teachers who have a lot of special needs students on their classes to teachers who happen to have a higher number of high performing students, or teachers who have kids transfer from another classroom ...

Yes, here we have a state assessment that all the public schools must use. The kids take standardized tests for reading, writing, math, and science. School and district performance is determined based on the results of the state assessment.

Are those scores used to determine teacher evaluations?

To my knowledge, that is the only measure across the state. I don't know what the districts might do in addition to the state assessment. Parents do not complete an evaluation.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: Roses on October 26, 2012, 04:15:48 PM
I would go to the principal now and not wait.  I'd also mention the comment she made to your son after you left the classroom.  This teacher is a piece of work, I feel for all the kids who don't have the ability to get to school early.  I can't imagine a school approving a curriculum that only allows kids to get A's and B's if they come in early and essentially do an extra class.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: SeptGurl on October 26, 2012, 04:17:15 PM
I strongly suggest that you approach the principal right now before any grades are released. The process, not the outcome is the problem and even if your son gets an A, it was a poor process.

Also, your complaints have more weight if they are NOT associated with a grade.

modify: This doesn't need to be a complaint. This should be more of a heads-up for the principal. The principal cannot do his/her job effectively unless they know what's going on. So help the principal deal with this situation as well as possible.

I understand where you're coming from. You make a good point, and in the bigger picture I agree 100% that the process is the problem. I am concerned about the possibility of retaliation with DS's grade, which is why I was leaning toward waiting. Thoughts?

If you are concerned about retaliation, bring that up with principal and let him/her know that you wish to be anonymous until the grades are released. 80% of the issues are affecting all the students and I think a good principal should be able to approach the problem without singling out a student. As at least four students are coming in before class, your son is not the only one affected by this.

So ask that the principal approach the teaching as a whole, not the effect on your son.

I can also say that messing with a students grade is something that is so frowned upon that it is hard to believe a teacher would do that. (I taught and if there was a semblance of a possibility that a students grade was dependent on anything but their work there were some serious mechanisms in place to ensure that would not happen).

Okay, this makes me feel better about dealing with this next week rather than after the 5th. I like the idea of anonymity and approaching this as more of a process problem.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: artk2002 on October 26, 2012, 04:22:52 PM
Yikes!  I'll have to run this by my ex, who is a very, very good middle school science teacher, but I can imagine that what she will say won't make it past the filter.

One thing that stands out to me is that this teacher is using videos a lot. While videos can be useful, they shouldn't be keeping the kids from getting actual work done. You can learn far more from a single experiment than a week of videos.

My feeling is that this teacher is both lazy and disorganized. At this point, I'd be camping in the principal's office demanding a conference with the principal, academic dean, head of the science department and the teacher. And I'd be finding other parents in the same boat to join me. I would *not* worry about retaliation -- start the process now before grades are out. If the teacher retaliates, then you've established a position and you can get her called on the carpet to justify her grading.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: SeptGurl on October 26, 2012, 04:29:26 PM
Yikes!  I'll have to run this by my ex, who is a very, very good middle school science teacher, but I can imagine that what she will say won't make it past the filter.

One thing that stands out to me is that this teacher is using videos a lot. While videos can be useful, they shouldn't be keeping the kids from getting actual work done. You can learn far more from a single experiment than a week of videos.

My feeling is that this teacher is both lazy and disorganized. At this point, I'd be camping in the principal's office demanding a conference with the principal, academic dean, head of the science department and the teacher. And I'd be finding other parents in the same boat to join me. I would *not* worry about retaliation -- start the process now before grades are out. If the teacher retaliates, then you've established a position and you can get her called on the carpet to justify her grading.

I would so appreciate your ex's thoughts on this situation. You make a good point about the use of videos. To my knowledge, this will be 5 class periods of videos within 18 days with the teacher present.

I need to figure out whether we have contact info for parents of other kids in that class. DS and I will have that conversation this evening. I also will contact some parents of kids who are not on DS's team and who have different science teachers. I'm curious whether they're having a similar experience or if it's limited to DS's teacher.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: Peregrine on October 26, 2012, 04:29:36 PM
Absolutely address it now!  Who knows what this teacher will cook up for the next study unit.  I would want to have my ducks in a row before the grades for this unit comes out, and she starts another one.  I have no idea how these things work these days, only having a 2 year old....and not being there yet.  But I would imagine that if things are this far off the rails (videos?????? for several days in a row, while there are still assignments being done?  Are they even scientifically related to the unit they are studying?) that the principal and a few others may need to sit in on class to find out whats going on.

I would be on this by next wednesday at the latest.  I would want the weekend to write down a timeline, gather emails chronologically, assemble any syllabi and parent handouts and your son's current work, find out what in tarnation these videos are (are they taking notes or being asked questions about the videos?) get all my evidenciary ducks in a row, and perhaps talk to the Mother of your son's classmate and feel her out.  Then I would be requesting a meeting with the principal right after that.  OP is 6th grade in the elementary schools where you are, or is this a middle school (grades 6-8).  Do the teachers work in teams?

I don't mean necessarily to go in looking for the teachers blood (although I would be plenty ticked off) but I would want to give the principal the most thorough package to start with so this doesn't drag out for the next 3 months. 
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: CakeBeret on October 26, 2012, 04:38:48 PM
Yikes!  I'll have to run this by my ex, who is a very, very good middle school science teacher, but I can imagine that what she will say won't make it past the filter.

One thing that stands out to me is that this teacher is using videos a lot. While videos can be useful, they shouldn't be keeping the kids from getting actual work done. You can learn far more from a single experiment than a week of videos.

My feeling is that this teacher is both lazy and disorganized. At this point, I'd be camping in the principal's office demanding a conference with the principal, academic dean, head of the science department and the teacher. And I'd be finding other parents in the same boat to join me. I would *not* worry about retaliation -- start the process now before grades are out. If the teacher retaliates, then you've established a position and you can get her called on the carpet to justify her grading.

I would so appreciate your ex's thoughts on this situation. You make a good point about the use of videos. To my knowledge, this will be 5 class periods of videos within 18 days with the teacher present.

So the kids have spent nearly 1/3 of the class time with the teacher present watching videos? When they have outstanding labs that need to be completed? That is seriously wrong.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: Jones on October 26, 2012, 04:43:57 PM
Perhaps you can make little invitations DS can hand out to his science classmates for a parent meeting and discuss the situation? Or just little cards with contact info so you can gather other parents' concerns and take them in with you, to show it's not just you. There's no way you're the only one worried here.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: SeptGurl on October 26, 2012, 04:47:05 PM
OP is 6th grade in the elementary schools where you are, or is this a middle school (grades 6-8).  Do the teachers work in teams?

6th grade is middle school. The teachers do work in teams. There are three teams with about 100 students on each team.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: Seraphia on October 26, 2012, 05:02:41 PM
Yikes! This is most certainly not an organized teacher.

My DH and best friend are both teachers - DH teaches HS, BF teaches elementary. I cannot fathom either of them requiring that kind of outside-class work just to get a normal A. Extra credit, or make-up work? Sure. But there should be adequate time IN CLASS to complete work that requires school resources like microscopes. Your son is lucky to have you advocating for him, checking the deadlines, bringing him in early and making sure that the teacher lets him do his experiment. I'm guessing there are quite a few students whose parents just can't do that much, and their grades are going to suffer immensely.

So the kids have spent nearly 1/3 of the class time with the teacher present watching videos? When they have outstanding labs that need to be completed? That is seriously wrong.

Also, this tells me that something is very, very off with this teacher. I don't know if she's never taught this subject before, has some personal crisis interfering with her planning, isn't adjusting well to the layered curriculum or what. But video after video, particularly when they are being played instead of allowing the kids time to do the work she's assigned, sounds like a student-teacher with no idea, not an organized professional.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: GSNW on October 26, 2012, 05:16:03 PM
The more I read in this topic, the more I see red!  This teacher is using videos as a crutch, absolutely.  Videos that are shown should correlate directly to a state standard, and should be used sparingly.  Ask your DS- are they doing a supplementary activity with the movie?  IME, movies are not useful at all - even really good ones - unless students are thinking critically about what they are seeing.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: PastryGoddess on October 26, 2012, 05:28:38 PM
OP is 6th grade in the elementary schools where you are, or is this a middle school (grades 6-8).  Do the teachers work in teams?

6th grade is middle school. The teachers do work in teams. There are three teams with about 100 students on each team.

The teachers team lead needs to be there as well
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: Otterpop on October 26, 2012, 06:35:52 PM
No way should the kids be watching videos when they need to get labs and papers done!  My DD had a teacher like that once, who had a 3-tiered grading system.  She was awesome though, because she gave plenty of class-time to finish projects.  Plus, the work needed to get an A, B or C was clearly stated in the project packet and none of it required us to come to the school before or after hours.  Kids who got done early could read or work on other subjects during class but only after they were done with whatever level they wanted to complete. It sounds as though your teacher has grand ideas but no idea how to implement them.  Definitely speak to the principal about your concerns.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: DoubleTrouble on October 26, 2012, 06:50:13 PM
I agree with everyone else that this is a serious problem that needs to be addressed now. Out of curiosity, do you know what kind of videos are being shown? Are they videos related to what is supposed to be being taught right now? If not that's an even more serious problem.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: SeptGurl on October 26, 2012, 06:51:46 PM
The more I read in this topic, the more I see red!  This teacher is using videos as a crutch, absolutely.  Videos that are shown should correlate directly to a state standard, and should be used sparingly.  Ask your DS- are they doing a supplementary activity with the movie?  IME, movies are not useful at all - even really good ones - unless students are thinking critically about what they are seeing.

DS told me that the class did a worksheet while they watched the video. The video was "Osmosis Jones." I just looked it up. It's a Farrelly brothers movie from 2001 about a white blood cell that is trying to stop a virus from killing a human. They will spend Monday and Tuesday continuing to watch the movie.

DS also told me this evening that one of his friends is in his science class, so I may try to contact that boy's parents to see if they have any opinions about this curriculum. DS told me that his friend is still on the B-layer work. He also told me that he spent yesterday working with his friend to help him with his projects because he couldn't work on his experiment. He said he spent Wednesday's class time reviewing his plans for his experiment. He said he didn't really have anything of his own to work on either day.

I asked him if he's aware of how many other kids are in the A-layer work right now. To his knowledge there are three in his class, including him.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: artk2002 on October 26, 2012, 06:57:34 PM
The more I read in this topic, the more I see red!  This teacher is using videos as a crutch, absolutely.  Videos that are shown should correlate directly to a state standard, and should be used sparingly.  Ask your DS- are they doing a supplementary activity with the movie?  IME, movies are not useful at all - even really good ones - unless students are thinking critically about what they are seeing.

DS told me that the class did a worksheet while they watched the video. The video was "Osmosis Jones." I just looked it up. It's a Farrelly brothers movie from 2001 about a white blood cell that is trying to stop a virus from killing a human. They will spend Monday and Tuesday continuing to watch the movie.

What!!!?!?!?!??!!??!  That's an hour-and-a-half long movie. There's no way that there's 95 minutes of science content in there. The immune system for that grade level can be covered in a couple of lectures. Above and beyond the grading and time issues, this is a travesty.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: ettiquit on October 26, 2012, 07:22:53 PM
Osmosis Jones???  I was giving the teacher at least some credit and assumed they were watching Nova episodes or something.

 This is insane.  I admire your calmness and restraint because I would be spitting nails right now.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: SeptGurl on October 26, 2012, 07:23:30 PM
The more I read in this topic, the more I see red!  This teacher is using videos as a crutch, absolutely.  Videos that are shown should correlate directly to a state standard, and should be used sparingly.  Ask your DS- are they doing a supplementary activity with the movie?  IME, movies are not useful at all - even really good ones - unless students are thinking critically about what they are seeing.

DS told me that the class did a worksheet while they watched the video. The video was "Osmosis Jones." I just looked it up. It's a Farrelly brothers movie from 2001 about a white blood cell that is trying to stop a virus from killing a human. They will spend Monday and Tuesday continuing to watch the movie.

What!!!?!?!?!??!!??!  That's an hour-and-a-half long movie. There's no way that there's 95 minutes of science content in there. The immune system for that grade level can be covered in a couple of lectures. Above and beyond the grading and time issues, this is a travesty.

That pretty much sums it up. I'm calling the principal on Monday.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: SPuck on October 26, 2012, 07:49:32 PM
DS told me that the class did a worksheet while they watched the video. The video was "Osmosis Jones." I just looked it up. It's a Farrelly brothers movie from 2001 about a white blood cell that is trying to stop a virus from killing a human. They will spend Monday and Tuesday continuing to watch the movie.

I had a history teacher who let us watch a Simpsons episode one, but it was on the last day of school before Thanksgiving.  I can't imagine watching a movie trough several class periods.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: mmswm on October 26, 2012, 07:52:41 PM
When I was in 10th grade we watched "Anne of 1000 Days" in my world history class.  As we'd been studying the Tudor Dynasty at the time, it was appropriate.  That's the only long  movie I can remember watching, and it tied in directly with what we were studying.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: Lauren on October 26, 2012, 08:18:49 PM
I remember watching exactly one movie (as in not an education movie) which was an Aussie movie 'The Castle' and since I was doing legal studies it was appropriate. It was also the last day of term and we had a double lesson so could watch it at once.

I can't imagine having assignments due and having to watch a movie for THREE lessons!
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: WillyNilly on October 26, 2012, 08:54:02 PM
Osmosis Jones isn't even a good movie, sheesh.

I can see some films, if they are very scientific or every historical, or maybe a heavy dialog film in a foreign language class, but Osmosis Jones is not a science film, its a Chris Rock, Lawrence Fishbourne, Bill Murry movie.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: Iris on October 26, 2012, 09:22:26 PM
DD1 was made to watch Deep Blue Sea for Marine Studies class. When I rang the school to object they decided that the class was nearly finished watching it so DD1 would just sit it out. In the corridor. For two HOURS because the teacher decided to be 'cool' and let them watch it twice. Being regularly hassled by passing teachers who assumed she was outside the classroom for discipline issues and reacted accordingly.

Big mistake. Huge. I am not afraid to be THAT mum and also have a working knowledge of departmental guidelines which state that children that age can not watch M (15+) rated movies at school without express, written permission from parents and a very solid educational reason. Mama bear made an appearance that day, believe you me.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0149261/ (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0149261/) if you are not familiar with the movie. NOT educational (although possibly hilarious).
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: ettiquit on October 26, 2012, 09:32:05 PM
DS told me that the class did a worksheet while they watched the video. The video was "Osmosis Jones." I just looked it up. It's a Farrelly brothers movie from 2001 about a white blood cell that is trying to stop a virus from killing a human. They will spend Monday and Tuesday continuing to watch the movie.

I had a history teacher who let us watch a Simpsons episode one, but it was on the last day of school before Thanksgiving.  I can't imagine watching a movie trough several class periods.


My high school history teacher let us watch Monty Python's Holy Grail, but it was...historically relevant.

Or something.  ;D
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: violinp on October 26, 2012, 10:08:01 PM
The more I read in this topic, the more I see red!  This teacher is using videos as a crutch, absolutely.  Videos that are shown should correlate directly to a state standard, and should be used sparingly.  Ask your DS- are they doing a supplementary activity with the movie?  IME, movies are not useful at all - even really good ones - unless students are thinking critically about what they are seeing.

DS told me that the class did a worksheet while they watched the video. The video was "Osmosis Jones." I just looked it up. It's a Farrelly brothers movie from 2001 about a white blood cell that is trying to stop a virus from killing a human. They will spend Monday and Tuesday continuing to watch the movie.

DS also told me this evening that one of his friends is in his science class, so I may try to contact that boy's parents to see if they have any opinions about this curriculum. DS told me that his friend is still on the B-layer work. He also told me that he spent yesterday working with his friend to help him with his projects because he couldn't work on his experiment. He said he spent Wednesday's class time reviewing his plans for his experiment. He said he didn't really have anything of his own to work on either day.

I asked him if he's aware of how many other kids are in the A-layer work right now. To his knowledge there are three in his class, including him.

Coley, this work sounds like it's on the level of the high school advanced biology course I took that was the first part of a college prep series. There is no need at all for 11 and 12 year olds to be learning that much stuff. Plus, this teacher sounds like she's trying to fail the kids with her behavior. Both of those things add up to a recipe for utter failure for everyone. I'm glad you're going to speak with the principal ASAP.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: jedikaiti on October 26, 2012, 11:43:44 PM
DD1 was made to watch Deep Blue Sea for Marine Studies class. When I rang the school to object they decided that the class was nearly finished watching it so DD1 would just sit it out. In the corridor. For two HOURS because the teacher decided to be 'cool' and let them watch it twice. Being regularly hassled by passing teachers who assumed she was outside the classroom for discipline issues and reacted accordingly.

Big mistake. Huge. I am not afraid to be THAT mum and also have a working knowledge of departmental guidelines which state that children that age can not watch M (15+) rated movies at school without express, written permission from parents and a very solid educational reason. Mama bear made an appearance that day, believe you me.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0149261/ (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0149261/) if you are not familiar with the movie. NOT educational (although possibly hilarious).

That looks like the type of thing you only watch when you have insomnia!!

I do hope the teacher got their patooty handed to them for that - including having to explain to all the other teachers that the student was in the hall because the teacher was an idiot, and having the other teachers apologize to your kid!
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: Iris on October 27, 2012, 12:32:50 AM
DD1 was made to watch Deep Blue Sea for Marine Studies class. When I rang the school to object they decided that the class was nearly finished watching it so DD1 would just sit it out. In the corridor. For two HOURS because the teacher decided to be 'cool' and let them watch it twice. Being regularly hassled by passing teachers who assumed she was outside the classroom for discipline issues and reacted accordingly.

Big mistake. Huge. I am not afraid to be THAT mum and also have a working knowledge of departmental guidelines which state that children that age can not watch M (15+) rated movies at school without express, written permission from parents and a very solid educational reason. Mama bear made an appearance that day, believe you me.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0149261/ (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0149261/) if you are not familiar with the movie. NOT educational (although possibly hilarious).

That looks like the type of thing you only watch when you have insomnia!!

I do hope the teacher got their patooty handed to them for that - including having to explain to all the other teachers that the student was in the hall because the teacher was an idiot, and having the other teachers apologize to your kid!

According to the Principal's very grovelling reply to my email, they held a special staff meeting to address the issue, ensure that all staff were aware of the guidelines and implemented new procedures to make sure they were followed. He knew that if I chose to go to the Education Department over it people could lose their jobs. The school in general was great and very supportive when DD1 got sick so I didn't want to land the whole school in hot water. Hopefully it will never ever happen again, but it was almost professional darwinism!
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: trailgrrl on October 27, 2012, 02:53:13 AM
Not to Threadjack, but the last semester of my son's Senior English class, the class was assigned 'Into The Wild' by Jon Krakauer.  Now since it wasn't curricula material, there were no books assigned as there weren't enough for the class.  No, they had to listen to it on tape  >:(   And then watched the movie.

I'm not sure which was more irritating; the fact that it wasn't even one of Jon Krakauer's better books or the fact the kids weren't even required to read it  ::)  I would have thought 'Into Thin Air' or 'Under the Banner of Heaven' to be better discussion starters.

My son, who was not a great student by any stretch, was thoroughly bored and disgusted.  Bored by listening to a book on tape for weeks, disgusted because in his words "The story was about an idiot who walked unprepared into the Alaskan wilderness, WHO DOES THAT?"

Anyway, I let it pass.  It was the last Semester and it was one the few class he was actually passing at the time.  I had bigger fish to fry (not with the school, with my kid).

End Threadjack

OP, What is going in your son's class in beyond unacceptable and I'm really glad to hear you're bringing to the school's attention.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: kherbert05 on October 27, 2012, 05:48:29 AM
I am with the others that this sounds like a program that could be forced on a teacher without proper support.

About the field trip - even though it was presented as she decided to go - she might have been required to go. When I taught 4th, I was required to go on a 5th grade field trip - because I had been to the location multiple times and the grant money could not be used to pay parents' transportation or admission. So they had to pull staff from lower grades to have the legally required number of chaperons.

About the videos - Videos instead of textbooks are becoming more common for science. The reason is that you can show things in video that you can't duplicate in the classroom for safety reason. That said it sounds like the teacher would benefit from information about "flipped classrooms". In a flipped classroom the video and any reading would be assigned as homework. That way classroom time can be devoted to actually doing experiments.

Haves and have nots comes into play. In theory I could assign my 2nd graders to watch certain videos from discovery streaming. They have log ins and I could create a play list for them to watch. My problem is demographic - a good number of my kids don't have internet at home and those that do have it on mobile devices and the student log in doesn't work on those.

About the A B C level work - I do this with my 2nd graders. A C project will look like this, a B product will look like this, and an A project will look like this. The diffidence is they have access to everything from the time the project is assigned.

Supplies - I would definitely address the lack of equipment in the lab when speaking to the principal. Only 4 microscopes - we have 3 x that in our elementary lab and we are a Title I low socio/eco school.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: SeptGurl on October 27, 2012, 06:45:01 AM
I am with the others that this sounds like a program that could be forced on a teacher without proper support.

About the field trip - even though it was presented as she decided to go - she might have been required to go. When I taught 4th, I was required to go on a 5th grade field trip - because I had been to the location multiple times and the grant money could not be used to pay parents' transportation or admission. So they had to pull staff from lower grades to have the legally required number of chaperons.

About the videos - Videos instead of textbooks are becoming more common for science. The reason is that you can show things in video that you can't duplicate in the classroom for safety reason. That said it sounds like the teacher would benefit from information about "flipped classrooms". In a flipped classroom the video and any reading would be assigned as homework. That way classroom time can be devoted to actually doing experiments.

Haves and have nots comes into play. In theory I could assign my 2nd graders to watch certain videos from discovery streaming. They have log ins and I could create a play list for them to watch. My problem is demographic - a good number of my kids don't have internet at home and those that do have it on mobile devices and the student log in doesn't work on those.

About the A B C level work - I do this with my 2nd graders. A C project will look like this, a B product will look like this, and an A project will look like this. The diffidence is they have access to everything from the time the project is assigned.

Supplies - I would definitely address the lack of equipment in the lab when speaking to the principal. Only 4 microscopes - we have 3 x that in our elementary lab and we are a Title I low socio/eco school.

My main concern about the field trip is that it came up rather suddenly in the middle of this science unit. The calendar she provided for the unit doesn't indicate that she planned to be out for a field trip that week. Whether she was assigned to go on the field trip or decided to go is a moot point in my mind. The timing wasn't good. It disrupted the workflow considerably for this unit, and it resulted in confusion about assignment deadlines and limited students' work time. Between the field trip, her illness, and yesterday's video, some kids (but not DS) have had two days of class time to work on their projects since Oct. 16.

You mentioned flipped classrooms. Ironically, the teacher gave a handout during open house that discusses the flipped concept. She explained in the handout that she would be using a website to deliver short lectures and that the kids would then participate in online discussions about the lectures. She said in the handout that this would allow more class time to be spent on labs as well as interactive and self-paced learning. So far, it looks like the website has been used as a communication tool to deliver messages to students and store assignment guidelines. Perhaps this will change over time during the school year. 

As you mentioned, the socioeconomic implications of this curriculum are worrisome as is the lack of equipment. I don't know that the students will need microscopes for every unit, but if those are limited, I do wonder whether other equipment or supplies also will be limited for upcoming units.

Thanks for your input. I appreciate it.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: Redsoil on October 27, 2012, 07:16:23 AM
I think it's sad that bright, willing students are being deliberately obstructed in their abilities because the teacher seems to feel it's "appropriate" to hold them back so the rest of the class can do their basic work.  This whole story sounds like it's enough to put your child off science at school - exactly the opposite of what a good teacher should want!  I do hope there is a good resolution, and that the program is tweaked so it flows better.  Students at this level should not have to be going in to school very early to gain sufficient time for their A level studies!
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: weeblewobble on October 27, 2012, 07:47:19 AM
The large urban school district where my mom teaches actually banned teachers from showing videos because of teachers who do this - filling up class time with pointless videos instead of teaching.  There was also a teacher who taught a high school psychology class and thought showing a seriously gory horror film was an appropriate illustration of psychosis.  Yikes.

It's now written policy that teachers can only show videos that either accompanied the textbooks or was issued by a legitimate educational publisher.  And they have to be approved by the principal.

Showing a cartoon that contains, at best, minimal information about the immune system when the kids have deadlines looming that affect their grades is SHAMEFUL and this teacher needs to have her lesson plans, grading policy and classroom management skills reviewed.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: Thipu1 on October 27, 2012, 09:13:27 AM
I can understand some use of videos in science classes.  Some of the old Disney productions such as 'Hemo the Magnificent' could still be good for younger students. 

Episodes of 'Nova' or 'Through the Wormhole' could provoke fruitful classroom discussion for higher grades. 

If a history class had sharp students and a teacher with a good sense of humor, I can see screening 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail' because it takes on a lot of medieval legend.

Still, in most cases, a video, especially one that's basically commercial entertainment, is a waste of valuable time for education. 
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: GrammarNerd on October 27, 2012, 09:14:55 AM

Coley, this work sounds like it's on the level of the high school advanced biology course I took that was the first part of a college prep series. There is no need at all for 11 and 12 year olds to be learning that much stuff. Plus, this teacher sounds like she's trying to fail the kids with her behavior. Both of those things add up to a recipe for utter failure for everyone. I'm glad you're going to speak with the principal ASAP.

Re: the bolded: In my first job out of college, I didn't make very much, and part of my compensation was based (quarterly) on quizzes that the manager would give me based on things that I should have learned for the quarter.  For one quiz, I got an 88% and I was very disappointed by that; I thought I could do better.  So basically, I got 88% of the bonus that was available to me for that quarter.  My manager, however had a different viewpoint: he remarked that I did a lot better than he thought I would.

I mentioned that remark to someone who opened my eyes about what he'd done: essentially, he never had any intention that I could earn the full bonus amount, because he admittedly made a quiz that he KNEW was too hard!  He was messing with my abilty for compensation, and was lying to me, and that was so not cool.  The 'test' should have been designed so that I would, if I learned everything, have the ability to get the full bonus amount. 

This came to mind when I read your situation, OP.  All of those children should have the ability to get the best grade possible.  Right now, they can't do that. 

A few points I would hit with the principal:

1. Since so much emphasis is on videos, how are the videos being graded?  Are they C level work?  A level work?  GET an answer to that.  If they are C level work, then why is your son forced to watch them if he's on the A track?  That is holding him back and penalizing him.  If he's being forced to watch them, then they need to count toward the highest possible grade that he can achieve...an A.  That is the ONLY fair way it can work.

2. Why did your son get so much flack about getting the salt to do his experiment, when the teacher was the one who assigned the experiment?  Does she not know what she assigned?  And stress that not only does this come from your son, but you observed it.  And what you heard and witnessed doesn't give you a lot of confidence in the teacher's curriculum knowledge.

3. A research paper and powerpoint presentaton on a thoroughly different topic (as I understand it) seems like WAY too much work in order to get an A at that age.  Like another pp said, an A should be on mastery of topics taught in class and meeting all of those requirements, not jumping through hoops to do extra work on your own.

4. How does the grading work for the A and B levels?   If they do it, they get the grade?  How picky is she being with her critique of the A work?  Is it such that even after putting in all of this work, your son still wouldn't get an A?  (and frankly, I'd worry that if the teacher didn't know that salt was needed for the experiment, she wouldn't even know how to grade the assignment fairly or objectively)

5.  At our middle school, they have prescribed topics they have to cover.  So by this teacher extending the due dates, does that mean that other parts of the curriculum are not being covered?  And why is this?  Why are due dates being extended, yet they're not working on the work that they need to do?

I also have a 6th grader who is very smart and loves science.  If he brought home that much extra homework just to get an A (which apparently needs to be self-taught!!), I would have had a lot of issues with that.  I didn't have to do that much for honors biology in high school!  Reading, yes, but papers?  Presentations?  No.

Please keep us updated.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: faithlessone on October 27, 2012, 09:55:17 AM
Like everyone else, I am shocked about this. It would be one thing if there were three levels of work right from the beginning, and students could pick whether to do the C-level, B-level or A-level work - but forcing all the kids to do all three levels (if they want an A) seems crazy. Adding on that they are required to do extra work (and a lot of extra work, from the sound of it) outside of class in order to get above a C, and that's bizarre. Then, finally, to hear that this teacher seems to be intentionally holding students back (neglecting project time in favour of videos, interrogating students for basic supplies, preventing them from using equipment), and that's just mean!

Coley - I really hope you can get something substantial done about this. I highly doubt you're the only parent who feels that this is unfair and stupid. I would hate to see a whole class of young students completely turned away from science because of one ill-advised programme or one disorganised teacher.

Keep us updated! :)
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: sidi-ji on October 27, 2012, 10:29:54 AM
Firstly, you have not even approached the event horizon of a helicopter parent.  And I just want to say how much I admire your thorough command of the timeline of events.   Even if this is a half baked program that has been mandated, the teacher could  make a better job of it by explaining in advance(to  students and parents alike) what was possible, and what was desired.  In other words, she was well aware of the insufficient  microscopes, and the insane time crunch facing even the "C" level  aspirants. Thus the deadline extensions, not- in my estimation- based on the fieldtrip, or her illness playing havoc with her schedule.  (She has no schedule or program, in actual fact).   But  I hope  that I am wrong about her character.  Muttered asides are way unprofessional and  can break down  a proper student teacher  gestalt.  Any how  OP, your intervention is critical for your DS.   His work ethic is awesome!
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: GSNW on October 27, 2012, 11:27:22 AM
I also want to point put that a new curriculum like this, if it is mandated, generally comes with advance notice and a ton of support and training.  If this teacher didn't get the requisite support I do feel for her.. that's still no excuse.  Videos are a grey teaching tool for science when used appropriately.  They are not supposed to babysit the class!!
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: Sharnita on October 27, 2012, 12:56:48 PM
I also want to point put that a new curriculum like this, if it is mandated, generally comes with advance notice and a ton of support and training.  If this teacher didn't get the requisite support I do feel for her.. that's still no excuse.  Videos are a grey teaching tool for science when used appropriately.  They are not supposed to babysit the class!!

That greatly depends on the district.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: SingActDance on October 27, 2012, 02:58:05 PM
DS told me that the class did a worksheet while they watched the video. The video was "Osmosis Jones." I just looked it up. It's a Farrelly brothers movie from 2001 about a white blood cell that is trying to stop a virus from killing a human. They will spend Monday and Tuesday continuing to watch the movie.

I had a history teacher who let us watch a Simpsons episode one, but it was on the last day of school before Thanksgiving.  I can't imagine watching a movie trough several class periods.


My high school history teacher let us watch Monty Python's Holy Grail, but it was...historically relevant.

Or something.  ;D

My senior honors English class spent a week watching all the Star Wars movies to drive home the lesson on archetypes.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: Sharnita on October 27, 2012, 03:00:29 PM
Star Wars can also be used for mythology.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: ClaireC79 on October 27, 2012, 03:02:55 PM
We watched Blackadder in English, following war poetry lessons (it was the final episode in Goes Forth not Baldrick's Boom, Boom poem)
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: Bethczar on October 27, 2012, 04:42:35 PM
We watched the "Sydney" episodes of MASH in high school psych. That being said, maybe this side topic could use it's own thread?

Count me in as another who could never have gotten an A or B with this set-up.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: miranova on October 27, 2012, 06:22:49 PM
This would never fly in my district.

First, the students have the right to a FREE education.  It techically should not cost them anything in terms of equipment (beyond the basic pencils, paper etc).  If anything is assigned that requires equipment or the internet for that matter, then equipment must be provided along with time to use it.  In fact, if the teacher's only method of communication is email, how are the students and parent without internet access getting any of this information? 

Secondly, schools here at flat out NOT allowed to require students to come in before or after school in order to meet the basic requirements of the class.  For make up work or extra tutoring, sure.  But not just to get the regular work done.  That's what class time is for, and it needs to be used wisely!  Requiring students who want anything more than a C to come in after hours is ludicrous and probably against district policy.  In your position I would complain LOUDLY about that one, for all of the students out there whose parents CAN'T get them to school early or pick them up late.  It's just massively unfair and while I'm not suggesting what you should do, I personally would go to bat for those kids regardless of whether or not my son's grade was adversely affected.  It's just wrong, and the school needs to stop it.  I really get irritated by teachers who set up any system that virtually guarantees that all students without involved and/or economically blessed parents will fail or never achieve the highest level of success.  Public school is supposed to create an even playing field for all students.  All of them should be given the same opportunity to be successful.  And the sad thing is, the students who have the uninvolved parents, the parents who just don't care (these parents do exist), these students will not only NOT be driven to school early, but when they fail, those same parents won't advocate for them.  Someone needs to.

*Just in case it isn't clear, I am NOT saying that any student who can't get to school early has uninvolved or uncaring parents.  I know that a lot of parents simply have to work or don't have transportation.  Just saying that the students with uncaring parents get the double whammy of not being able to get there AND not having a parent who will raise a fuss when they inevitably fail.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: DoubleTrouble on October 27, 2012, 07:00:35 PM
This would never fly in my district.

First, the students have the right to a FREE education.  It techically should not cost them anything in terms of equipment (beyond the basic pencils, paper etc).  If anything is assigned that requires equipment or the internet for that matter, then equipment must be provided along with time to use it.  In fact, if the teacher's only method of communication is email, how are the students and parent without internet access getting any of this information? 

Secondly, schools here at flat out NOT allowed to require students to come in before or after school in order to meet the basic requirements of the class.  For make up work or extra tutoring, sure.  But not just to get the regular work done.  That's what class time is for, and it needs to be used wisely!  Requiring students who want anything more than a C to come in after hours is ludicrous and probably against district policy.  In your position I would complain LOUDLY about that one, for all of the students out there whose parents CAN'T get them to school early or pick them up late.  It's just massively unfair and while I'm not suggesting what you should do, I personally would go to bat for those kids regardless of whether or not my son's grade was adversely affected.  It's just wrong, and the school needs to stop it.  I really get irritated by teachers who set up any system that virtually guarantees that all students without involved and/or economically blessed parents will fail or never achieve the highest level of success.  Public school is supposed to create an even playing field for all students.  All of them should be given the same opportunity to be successful.  And the sad thing is, the students who have the uninvolved parents, the parents who just don't care (these parents do exist), these students will not only NOT be driven to school early, but when they fail, those same parents won't advocate for them.  Someone needs to.

*Just in case it isn't clear, I am NOT saying that any student who can't get to school early has uninvolved or uncaring parents.  I know that a lot of parents simply have to work or don't have transportation.  Just saying that the students with uncaring parents get the double whammy of not being able to get there AND not having a parent who will raise a fuss when they inevitably fail.

Miranova you put into words what I wanted to say. The number of children in our district who are now identified as homeless has risen in the past few years. Their parents struggle to make ends meet with several jobs & to have something like this happen would be setting the kids up for failure. Even if my kid was not affected by this I would still raise a stink because it is not fair to those families who are trying their hardest just to keep their kids clothed & fed.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: Sharnita on October 27, 2012, 07:17:17 PM
This whole set up reminds me up multiple professional developments where teachers and administrators look at a pyramid.  At the base of the pyramid is the content and work every kid should be able to do and understand.  The center is content and/or work that is more complex and/or involved.  Some kids might not be able to get this, some might. The top might be really difficult in some way and maybe only a few kids will be able to get it. it sounds to me like that is being implemented really badly in the classroom.  I am not sure if the teacher has misunderstood it, an administrator, some board member or maybe there is a massive fail on all parts.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: SeptGurl on October 28, 2012, 05:27:16 AM
This whole set up reminds me up multiple professional developments where teachers and administrators look at a pyramid.  At the base of the pyramid is the content and work every kid should be able to do and understand.  The center is content and/or work that is more complex and/or involved.  Some kids might not be able to get this, some might. The top might be really difficult in some way and maybe only a few kids will be able to get it. it sounds to me like that is being implemented really badly in the classroom.  I am not sure if the teacher has misunderstood it, an administrator, some board member or maybe there is a massive fail on all parts.

Sharnita, you may have hit the nail on the head here. The handout we received at the open house about the layered curriculum has a pyramid on the front page. I wish I could paste it here for you. The bottom of the pyramid is the C-layer work with this description: "Students demonstrate a basic understanding of the material through rote learning (facts, vocabulary, skills)."

The B layer is in the middle of the pyramid and has this description: "Application of ideas gained at the C layer."

The A layer is at the top of the pyramid and has this description: "Critical thinking and analysis of real-world issues."

I see what may be a misunderstanding of pedagogy at the A layer of this pyramid (evidenced by use of the phrase "critical thinking"), and I think I understand the pedagogy because I use Bloom's taxonomy in assessing my college students' work. From what I can see in this pyramid, each layer represents demonstration of critical thinking, with "basic understanding" at the lowest level, "application" at the middle level, and "analysis" at the highest level. It is not that students at the B and C layers aren't using critical thinking skills. It's that they aren't using the same level of critical thought about the material that students at the A layer are displaying.

It appears that the goal is to have all students demonstrating at least a "comprehension" level of critical thought, to correlate this model with Bloom's. Assignments become increasingly complex through the B and A layers. Some students will advance to the "application" level, and some may advance to the "analysis" level.

The problem with this model as it is applied in this classroom is that all students don't have equal access to the resources needed to achieve the A and B layers. In addition, it does not appear that the classroom has sufficient resources (e.g., microscopes) to ensure all students have equal opportunity to achieve the A and B layers. From that standpoint, I would argue that the measure of critical thinking in this case may not be valid. We cannot say that we are measuring what we think we are measuring. We have external factors at play that may influence students' demonstration of critical thinking skills.

I have given my approach to this problem quite a lot of thought over the past few days, and everyone's suggestions and insights have been very helpful to me. My plan is to meet with the principal to discuss my concerns. At the beginning, I will present my concerns in the bigger picture (my paragraph just above regarding equal educational opportunity) and the possible effects on students who are of lower socioeconomic status as well as those with parents who have a lower level of involvement. I then plan to narrow my focus specifically to DS and his/our experience with the work in this unit.

Whether it is DS or any child in this class, the issue is the same: Do the students have equal opportunity to demonstrate the critical thinking skills required to earn an A? If they do not, then I believe this curriculum as presented in this classroom may not provide a valid measure of learning.

For anyone who might be interested, here's an example of a layered science curriculum that I found online for 7th graders at another middle school. https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=ZGVmYXVsdGRvbWFpbnxtcnNjbGFya3NsaWZlc2NpZW5jZWNsYXNzfGd4OjcyNzliMDVkNTJlOTlkZWI (https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=ZGVmYXVsdGRvbWFpbnxtcnNjbGFya3NsaWZlc2NpZW5jZWNsYXNzfGd4OjcyNzliMDVkNTJlOTlkZWI)

This example is comparable to the one used for the current unit in DS's class, but there are significant differences. This example indicates the location where students are expected to conduct the work (method column), and deadlines also are reasonably clear. The number of points possible to achieve full credit for each layer also is provided. Another difference in comparison to the curriculum in DS's class is that there is just one assessment at the end of the unit rather than an assessment at each layer. In DS's class, students are not allowed to progress to the next layer until they have completed a quiz at the previous level. If I'm reading this example correctly, it appears that these students have 14 days of work time. Ten work days include in-class exercises, and each layer is represented in class time. This is not the case in DS's class because class time is not specifically provided for each layer. In this example, it appears that students who progress through the C-layer work fairly quickly may have four in-class days to complete upper-layer work. In theory, students in this example could complete the four C-layer assignments labeled "homework/individual work time" at home or during a study hall during the first week of the unit and move on to B-layer work. None of the homework/individual work assignments at any level require resources beyond pencil and paper, which means that students should not have to make special trips to the classroom outside of class time. This would, it seems, minimize the impact on students of lower socioeconomic status and those with less parental involvement.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: DoubleTrouble on October 28, 2012, 08:06:07 AM
Coly I think that example you found is a good example of how this should be done & I would bring it with you to enhance your point. I was thinking more about it & you mentioned that to do A-Level work your son had to do PowerPoint slides. That is an expensive program (unless you use the free trial) & for many people a difficult one to understand & who knows if all the features are available in the trial. For a child of lower socioeconomic status this type of work would most likely be completely out of their reach & it would be a disservice to those children to prevent them from being able to achieve the higher grade simply because the cannot afford it. Public education is free for a reason & children should not be forced to choose between food/clothes/shelter to receive an education.

I mentioned your situation to my husband who has a PhD in chemistry & he was appalled at what these middle school children were expected to do. This type of work is more in line of what he did while in grad school where adequate resources were provided. It's just insane to expect this of middle school students.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: snowdragon on October 28, 2012, 12:24:25 PM
I am in Grad school. I have not spent that amount of time on anyone of class projects ( reading, yeah - projects no) this semester. Seriously this scheduling is nuts and seems to punish the students who want to get "A"'s I would be starting with the principal and go from there.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: RooRoo on October 29, 2012, 07:48:14 AM
Corey said:
Quote
At the beginning, I will present my concerns in the bigger picture (my paragraph just above regarding equal educational opportunity) and the possible effects on students who are of lower socioeconomic status as well as those with parents who have a lower level of involvement. I then plan to narrow my focus specifically to DS and his/our experience with the work in this unit.

This is a good idea. I would end by saying that, since DS has turned in his last assignment and has 99% so far, thus will probably get an A, this isn't an issue for you, but have they considered that this has opened the district to a possible lawsuit?* This should be said with a concern for the schools, not as a threat.

No student should have to settle for a C because they canít get to the school for extra time, and/or canít get the equipment needed. (To do Power Point, you have to buy some nice expensive software. And, if the school wants them to learn power point, they should darn well give a class in it.) Nor because they aren't allowed to start the higher level work until everyone has met the C requirements. One slow student, and...

*Note: this is not legal advice. It is just an eye-opener for them; a motivator, if you will.

And, please keep us updated!
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: NyaChan on October 29, 2012, 07:58:02 AM
Corey said:
Quote
At the beginning, I will present my concerns in the bigger picture (my paragraph just above regarding equal educational opportunity) and the possible effects on students who are of lower socioeconomic status as well as those with parents who have a lower level of involvement. I then plan to narrow my focus specifically to DS and his/our experience with the work in this unit.

This is a good idea. I would end by saying that, since DS has turned in his last assignment and has 99% so far, thus will probably get an A, this isn't an issue for you, but have they considered that this has opened the district to a possible lawsuit?* This should be said with a concern for the schools, not as a threat.

No student should have to settle for a C because they can’t get to the school for extra time, and/or can’t get the equipment needed. (To do Power Point, you have to buy some nice expensive software. And, if the school wants them to learn power point, they should darn well give a class in it.) Nor because they aren't allowed to start the higher level work until everyone has met the C requirements. One slow student, and...

*Note: this is not legal advice. It is just an eye-opener for them; a motivator, if you will.

And, please keep us updated!

Wasn't that 99% on the C level work though?  I think he has to get good results on the B level work and then the A level work to actually get the A, but if he never gets the opportunity to do the A level work, the highest he can get is a B?  Or am I missing how this works?  As someone who has been a student for almost 20 years (wow  :o), grading scales and expectations can make or break a class.  I've never minded a harder class as long as those things were clear - but "easy" classes were my grade was up in the air or out of my control? Not so much. 

I really hope things get cleared up to your satisfaction soon & also hope that the school is not already aware and content with the way things are running.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: SeptGurl on October 29, 2012, 08:28:39 AM
Corey said:
Quote
At the beginning, I will present my concerns in the bigger picture (my paragraph just above regarding equal educational opportunity) and the possible effects on students who are of lower socioeconomic status as well as those with parents who have a lower level of involvement. I then plan to narrow my focus specifically to DS and his/our experience with the work in this unit.

This is a good idea. I would end by saying that, since DS has turned in his last assignment and has 99% so far, thus will probably get an A, this isn't an issue for you, but have they considered that this has opened the district to a possible lawsuit?* This should be said with a concern for the schools, not as a threat.

No student should have to settle for a C because they canít get to the school for extra time, and/or canít get the equipment needed. (To do Power Point, you have to buy some nice expensive software. And, if the school wants them to learn power point, they should darn well give a class in it.) Nor because they aren't allowed to start the higher level work until everyone has met the C requirements. One slow student, and...

*Note: this is not legal advice. It is just an eye-opener for them; a motivator, if you will.

And, please keep us updated!

Wasn't that 99% on the C level work though?  I think he has to get good results on the B level work and then the A level work to actually get the A, but if he never gets the opportunity to do the A level work, the highest he can get is a B?  Or am I missing how this works?  As someone who has been a student for almost 20 years (wow  :o), grading scales and expectations can make or break a class.  I've never minded a harder class as long as those things were clear - but "easy" classes were my grade was up in the air or out of my control? Not so much. 

I really hope things get cleared up to your satisfaction soon & also hope that the school is not already aware and content with the way things are running.

You're right that his grade presently is for the C work, and in looking at this more closely the other day, I noticed that his C-layer quiz grade has not been entered yet. He took that quiz more than two weeks ago. His B-layer grades also have not been entered, and that work was completed on the 16th. I think I mentioned in another post that his grades haven't been updated online since 9/27. Progress reports were released Friday, and this teacher was not prepared to release grades. She is evidently sending a separate grade sheet home on 11/5. Since the last work day for this unit is Wednesday, it seems that she will have a lot of grading to do between then and 11/5.

I am happy to say that DS finished his A-layer homework this weekend. He spent several hours Saturday and yesterday writing the research paper for the experiment he completed Friday. He will turn that in today, so all that will remain is his A-layer quiz. Then he can put this unit behind him.

In the car this morning on the way to school, he asked me if all the science units are going to be like this. I told him that he should probably expect these layered assignments for the duration because that's what the teacher said she is planning. His response: "Man, this is going to be a hard year!" I told him that he has proven that he can do the work, and that says a lot. We can't control what the teacher assigns, so it's important for us to focus on what we can control. I asked him if he learned any lessons from his experience thus far. He said that from now on he's going to plan ahead and finish the C-layer work within the first few days of the unit so he has more time to focus on the B- and A-layer assignments. That is a good lesson for him to learn, and it is within his control.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: Sharnita on October 29, 2012, 08:38:11 AM
The thing I don't get is that if the C level work is what everyone should/must do and the other stuff is more optional (?) then it seems like there should be some new C level introduced all unit long or there will be a kid or two who are content with Cs and realize that they can coast once they get the C work done in the first week or two.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: Jones on October 29, 2012, 08:51:02 AM
The thing I don't get is that if the C level work is what everyone should/must do and the other stuff is more optional (?) then it seems like there should be some new C level introduced all unit long or there will be a kid or two who are content with Cs and realize that they can coast once they get the C work done in the first week or two.

It actually sounds like this is what the teacher is promoting, via cartoons during class time; I don't understand why.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: SeptGurl on October 29, 2012, 09:36:23 AM
The thing I don't get is that if the C level work is what everyone should/must do and the other stuff is more optional (?) then it seems like there should be some new C level introduced all unit long or there will be a kid or two who are content with Cs and realize that they can coast once they get the C work done in the first week or two.

It actually sounds like this is what the teacher is promoting, via cartoons during class time; I don't understand why.

DH and I were talking about that, and we're wondering if the insertion of the movie on Friday, today, and tomorrow as a class activity is to keep the kids who are done with the C work occupied during class time because they don't have anything to do. That's just a guess though. The kids can work through Wednesday on their projects, but if they want to work today or tomorrow, it will have to be during study hall. They can work Wednesday in class, which is the last day of class time she is allowing.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: GrammarNerd on October 29, 2012, 10:09:35 AM
After reading the updates, and the thoughts of others, I keep coming back to the same question:

Is this teacher actually TEACHING anything?

Or is she only teaching the C-level work?

From your updates, OP, it seems as though your DS is/was doing all of the B and A level work as self-study.  And it was self-study to the point where it appeared that the teacher wasn't even familiar with the assignment or being very accommodating with the request (that whole salt thing still gets me). 

So I guess that comes back to the question of why he has to spend his class time watching a video which has a questionable educational benefit, and then spend his weekend/off time doing required work that seems waaaaaaay above what one would think would be expected from a sixth grader.

Again, I would insist on knowing the impact that the videos play in the unit, and specifically how they will help any of the children attain their target grades.  If the teacher is using that valuable class time for the videos, then I'd want to be shown why they are so beneficial.  (Especially when I've just watched my kid spend countless extra hours of his free time doing work that could have been tackled in class but was displaced by the showing of these videos.)

And then if you can't get straight answers as to how these videos impact his grade, formally request that he be allowed to work in the library or somewhere else so he can use that class time to work on something that actually WILL impact his grade.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: Sharnita on October 29, 2012, 10:14:46 AM
I think the video is more questionable since the C level work is apparently already done and graded.  So is there any assignment related to the video?  Will the kids be discussing it, answering questions about it, writing about it?  If they do will it count towards their grade?  If it doesn't count toward their grade what else is the teacher doing to motivate them to take it seriously?
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: SeptGurl on October 29, 2012, 11:01:31 AM
I think the video is more questionable since the C level work is apparently already done and graded.  So is there any assignment related to the video?  Will the kids be discussing it, answering questions about it, writing about it?  If they do will it count towards their grade?  If it doesn't count toward their grade what else is the teacher doing to motivate them to take it seriously?

Some of the kids are done with the C work, but some may not be. DS has some grades for C work, but I'm not sure that all of them do. Students who are done with the C layer and who didn't choose to take on the B or A layer work wouldn't have any work to do now unless she requires them to do the higher-level work.

About the movie: The kids are answering questions from a worksheet while they watch the movie. DS told me Friday that they were doing both simultaneously. If the portions of the movie that provided the correct answers went by too quickly, she'd stop the movie and replay it several times so they could answer the questions. I don't know whether this counts toward their grade.

The movie seems slightly connected with the current science unit -- cell biology. The movie is about a white blood cell. However, the focus of the movie appears to be about the immune system, and they aren't covering the immune system right now. I asked DS if the next science unit is about human biology, and he doesn't know.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: Jones on October 29, 2012, 11:05:07 AM
Not that the movie is very scientifically accurate in any way, shape or form...
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: Deetee on October 29, 2012, 11:09:21 AM

In the car this morning on the way to school, he asked me if all the science units are going to be like this. I told him that he should probably expect these layered assignments for the duration because that's what the teacher said she is planning. His response: "Man, this is going to be a hard year!" I told him that he has proven that he can do the work, and that says a lot. We can't control what the teacher assigns, so it's important for us to focus on what we can control. I asked him if he learned any lessons from his experience thus far. He said that from now on he's going to plan ahead and finish the C-layer work within the first few days of the unit so he has more time to focus on the B- and A-layer assignments. That is a good lesson for him to learn, and it is within his control.

See, not a helicopter.
I'm glad that despite the ridiculous job the teacher is doing, you are still encouraging your son to learn and follow the (mind-boggling stoopid) outline.

It is a good job because sometimes there simply just are ridiculous amounts of work to do (without someone else being at fault) and sometimes you do just have to do it and time management is a valuable skill.

And with that thought, I'm going to go write and essay due in two days.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: SeptGurl on October 29, 2012, 11:16:49 AM

In the car this morning on the way to school, he asked me if all the science units are going to be like this. I told him that he should probably expect these layered assignments for the duration because that's what the teacher said she is planning. His response: "Man, this is going to be a hard year!" I told him that he has proven that he can do the work, and that says a lot. We can't control what the teacher assigns, so it's important for us to focus on what we can control. I asked him if he learned any lessons from his experience thus far. He said that from now on he's going to plan ahead and finish the C-layer work within the first few days of the unit so he has more time to focus on the B- and A-layer assignments. That is a good lesson for him to learn, and it is within his control.

See, not a helicopter.
I'm glad that despite the ridiculous job the teacher is doing, you are still encouraging your son to learn and follow the (mind-boggling stoopid) outline.

It is a good job because sometimes there simply just are ridiculous amounts of work to do (without someone else being at fault) and sometimes you do just have to do it and time management is a valuable skill.

And with that thought, I'm going to go write and essay due in two days.

Thank you. Good luck with your essay!  :)
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: MyFamily on October 29, 2012, 11:52:04 AM
Not that the movie is very scientifically accurate in any way, shape or form...

That was my thought! 
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: gmatoy on October 29, 2012, 12:05:37 PM
The thing I don't get is that if the C level work is what everyone should/must do and the other stuff is more optional (?) then it seems like there should be some new C level introduced all unit long or there will be a kid or two who are content with Cs and realize that they can coast once they get the C work done in the first week or two.

It actually sounds like this is what the teacher is promoting, via cartoons during class time; I don't understand why.

DH and I were talking about that, and we're wondering if the insertion of the movie on Friday, today, and tomorrow as a class activity is to keep the kids who are done with the C work occupied during class time because they don't have anything to do. That's just a guess though. The kids can work through Wednesday on their projects, but if they want to work today or tomorrow, it will have to be during study hall. They can work Wednesday in class, which is the last day of class time she is allowing.

As a teacher, the bolded made me wonder... what if the students have to do things for another class during study hall?
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: faithlessone on October 29, 2012, 12:25:02 PM
The thing I don't get is that if the C level work is what everyone should/must do and the other stuff is more optional (?) then it seems like there should be some new C level introduced all unit long or there will be a kid or two who are content with Cs and realize that they can coast once they get the C work done in the first week or two.

It actually sounds like this is what the teacher is promoting, via cartoons during class time; I don't understand why.

DH and I were talking about that, and we're wondering if the insertion of the movie on Friday, today, and tomorrow as a class activity is to keep the kids who are done with the C work occupied during class time because they don't have anything to do. That's just a guess though. The kids can work through Wednesday on their projects, but if they want to work today or tomorrow, it will have to be during study hall. They can work Wednesday in class, which is the last day of class time she is allowing.

As a teacher, the bolded made me wonder... what if the students have to do things for another class during study hall?

This worried me as well. I had a teacher at secondary school who were convinced that her class was the only one that mattered, and she behaved in a similar way - giving us unfeasible amounts of homework, expecting us to come in at lunchtime or after school for "make up" work that she hadn't had time to teach us.

Several parents complained, and she was soon put in her place.

I really think you need to go on the offensive with this, Coley. *hugs*
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: doodlemor on October 29, 2012, 12:39:48 PM

[/quote]

DH and I were talking about that, and we're wondering if the insertion of the movie on Friday, today, and tomorrow as a class activity is to keep the kids who are done with the C work occupied during class time because they don't have anything to do. That's just a guess though. The kids can work through Wednesday on their projects, but if they want to work today or tomorrow, it will have to be during study hall. They can work Wednesday in class, which is the last day of class time she is allowing.
[/quote]

I gather from your other post that the teacher seems to be behind in her paperwork.  I suspect that she is showing the movie so that she can work on this stuff during class.  I wonder if she is showing movies in other classes, too.  I think her use of this movie is thoroughly unprofessional.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: bonyk on October 29, 2012, 12:50:46 PM
This is the administration's fault as much as the teachers, IMO.  No one noticed that her teaching has stalled and her class has been watching a movie for days on end?  No one noticed that this new program is failing?  No one noticed that she has not updated the grades?  No one asked her how many kids are on track for each layer of teaching?  No one asked her how she's managing so that students have equal access to the limited materials?  No one asked her if going on the trip would adversely affect her students?
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: MyFamily on October 29, 2012, 12:57:12 PM
This is the administration's fault as much as the teachers, IMO.  No one noticed that her teaching has stalled and her class has been watching a movie for days on end?  No one noticed that this new program is failing?  No one noticed that she has not updated the grades?  No one asked her how many kids are on track for each layer of teaching?  No one asked her how she's managing so that students have equal access to the limited materials?  No one asked her if going on the trip would adversely affect her students?

Not to excuse administration too much, but the fact is that they are probably understaffed and overworked.  They can't follow-up with every teacher and it isn't unheard of for a good teacher to have a good reason for being late for turning in their grades.  In fact, the late grades for progress reports may be their first clue that there is a problem.  Depending on the history of this teacher, it may be looked at closely or it may not be that much of a concern for them. 
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: Sharnita on October 29, 2012, 01:00:30 PM
This is the administration's fault as much as the teachers, IMO.  No one noticed that her teaching has stalled and her class has been watching a movie for days on end?  No one noticed that this new program is failing?  No one noticed that she has not updated the grades?  No one asked her how many kids are on track for each layer of teaching?  No one asked her how she's managing so that students have equal access to the limited materials?  No one asked her if going on the trip would adversely affect her students?

Not to excuse administration too much, but the fact is that they are probably understaffed and overworked.  They can't follow-up with every teacher and it isn't unheard of for a good teacher to have a good reason for being late for turning in their grades.  In fact, the late grades for progress reports may be their first clue that there is a problem.  Depending on the history of this teacher, it may be looked at closely or it may not be that much of a concern for them.

Conversely, it could be due in part to them. They could have basically told her to go on the field trip, putting her behind, they might be instituting a tiered system that they haven't trained her on or that they don't understand - who knows.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: SeptGurl on October 29, 2012, 01:11:46 PM


DH and I were talking about that, and we're wondering if the insertion of the movie on Friday, today, and tomorrow as a class activity is to keep the kids who are done with the C work occupied during class time because they don't have anything to do. That's just a guess though. The kids can work through Wednesday on their projects, but if they want to work today or tomorrow, it will have to be during study hall. They can work Wednesday in class, which is the last day of class time she is allowing.
[/quote]

I gather from your other post that the teacher seems to be behind in her paperwork.  I suspect that she is showing the movie so that she can work on this stuff during class.  I wonder if she is showing movies in other classes, too.  I think her use of this movie is thoroughly unprofessional.
[/quote]

I had the same suspicion, so I asked DS about it the other day. He said she is watching the movie with them. It is hard to connect the dots between this movie and the current science unit. I would have to talk with her to understand the logic behind it.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: SeptGurl on October 29, 2012, 01:16:19 PM
This is the administration's fault as much as the teachers, IMO.  No one noticed that her teaching has stalled and her class has been watching a movie for days on end?  No one noticed that this new program is failing?  No one noticed that she has not updated the grades?  No one asked her how many kids are on track for each layer of teaching?  No one asked her how she's managing so that students have equal access to the limited materials?  No one asked her if going on the trip would adversely affect her students?

Not to excuse administration too much, but the fact is that they are probably understaffed and overworked.  They can't follow-up with every teacher and it isn't unheard of for a good teacher to have a good reason for being late for turning in their grades.  In fact, the late grades for progress reports may be their first clue that there is a problem.  Depending on the history of this teacher, it may be looked at closely or it may not be that much of a concern for them.

Conversely, it could be due in part to them. They could have basically told her to go on the field trip, putting her behind, they might be instituting a tiered system that they haven't trained her on or that they don't understand - who knows.

Yes, all of this possible. I can't fairly point a finger anywhere because I don't have enough information to do that. All I can do is go in there and report the experience from our perspective. I would think the late grades might be a signal of a problem to the administration, but I can't know that for certain. At my institution, late grades are highly frowned upon, and instructors are expected to correct the problem immediately.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: Marisol on October 29, 2012, 03:51:31 PM
To me it sounds like the B and A levels ought to be used as extra credit for kids to advance their grade, but it shouldn't be a requirement to pass unless the kids are given enough time to go over each level and the teacher dedicates working time for the whole class to use.  This system just seems flawed. 

Is her class made up of different skill levels?  The only time I hear about levels a student can complete is when the class is made up of several groups of kids with different skill sets.  The advanced kids are given more to do while the less advanced work through the lower levels.  But in those situations the kids should all still be able to achieve an A within their level.  Although, I think it is to no ones advantage to have kids all mixed in the same class.  It makes it hard for the teacher to teach and the kids to learn. 

Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: Dr. F. on October 29, 2012, 05:40:21 PM
OP - did you contact the school today? I'm super-curious what the administration's response is going to be.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26 and #56
Post by: SeptGurl on October 30, 2012, 11:59:44 AM
Sorry for my delayed response. We were doing some pre-Halloween activities last night.

Mini-update:

I sent an e-mail to the principal this morning. It looks like we will meet tomorrow or Thursday. I asked to meet with her alone initially -- without the teacher. I have spent the better part of this morning editing my notes from the timeline in my OP so I can share them with the principal and also trying to do some of my own work.  :)

After school yesterday, DS told me that he submitted his research paper for his experiment. He still hadn't turned in the other work  that he completed at home a week ago because the teacher told him it should be uploaded to the class website. He didn't know how to do that. He asked her yesterday for instructions on how to upload, and she told him it could be turned in "either way." He surmised that she meant it could be submitted by hard copy or an upload to the website. She didn't give him instructions on how to upload it. After school, I helped him get it uploaded because we don't have a printer at home. I asked DS what was happening the room when he asked for upload instructions. He said there were a bunch of kids there who were missing work and trying to talk to her.

The homework website was finally updated yesterday with a statement that the work for this unit will be due "no earlier than 10/31." DS still says the last day of class time for the unit will be 10/31.

As of a little while ago, a chunk of missing grades had been entered for B- and C-layer work in the online gradebook. It appears that the teacher is working furiously to enter the grades. I will be watching like a hawk to be sure everything is entered.

In the meantime, the only assignment DS has remaining is a quiz over the A layer. He should be able to take that today or tomorrow.

I will continue to post updates as I have them.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26, #56, #141 (mini)
Post by: snowdragon on October 30, 2012, 12:16:32 PM
wait she has grades entered and the work is not yet due? That does not seem right to me.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26, #56, #141 (mini)
Post by: Sharnita on October 30, 2012, 12:17:50 PM
wait she has grades entered and the work is not yet due? That does not seem right to me.

if the work gets turned in why wouldn't she grade it and enter the grade?
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26, #56, #141 (mini)
Post by: GSNW on October 30, 2012, 01:49:13 PM
I think why Coley meant is that individual assignment grades have been entered, not that final grades have been entered/posted.

As a side note, most admin have site-specific rules about how often online grade loos must be updated/uploaded.  The fact that this teacher is so behind in her gb should have been noticed.  However, some admin are very hands-off.  Mine pretty much take the "if you're not screwing up we never bother you" approach, which has pros and cons.  I'll be interested to hear how your meeting goes, Coley.  Good luck!
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26, #56, #141 (mini)
Post by: SeptGurl on October 30, 2012, 01:55:31 PM
I think why Coley meant is that individual assignment grades have been entered, not that final grades have been entered/posted.

As a side note, most admin have site-specific rules about how often online grade loos must be updated/uploaded.  The fact that this teacher is so behind in her gb should have been noticed.  However, some admin are very hands-off.  Mine pretty much take the "if you're not screwing up we never bother you" approach, which has pros and cons.  I'll be interested to hear how your meeting goes, Coley.  Good luck!

Yes, the kids have been submitting assignments all the way along for each layer of work. The C-layer in particular had quite a number of individual assignments. Each individual assignment has to be graded. After that, the kids will know what their overall grade for the unit is.

Thanks for the good wishes.  :)
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26, #56, #141 (mini)
Post by: snowdragon on October 30, 2012, 01:57:01 PM
wait she has grades entered and the work is not yet due? That does not seem right to me.

if the work gets turned in why wouldn't she grade it and enter the grade?

because the student has time to give her ALL of it - even in grad school it's not uncommon to upload load parts of assignments as they get done so they don't get lost, most teachers i know don't grade until the day the assignment is due.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26, #56, #141 (mini)
Post by: artk2002 on October 30, 2012, 02:41:22 PM
wait she has grades entered and the work is not yet due? That does not seem right to me.

if the work gets turned in why wouldn't she grade it and enter the grade?

because the student has time to give her ALL of it - even in grad school it's not uncommon to upload load parts of assignments as they get done so they don't get lost, most teachers i know don't grade until the day the assignment is due.

Given how slow this teacher has been in grading the assignments that have been turned in, waiting until the due date would be a disaster. Also, we've been talking about the due date for one specific assignment. What the teacher has been doing is grading assignments that have earlier dates (in other words, there are multiple assignments, each with different due dates, so it's not clear that she is grading anything "early.")

I really don't see why she should have to wait in any case. I've never heard of uploading a partial assignment in order to keep it from getting lost. I figure that backups and taking care of my in-progress work are my responsibility. That's what Google Docs or a thumb drive are for.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26, #56, #141 (mini)
Post by: blarg314 on October 30, 2012, 07:53:52 PM

I've never heard of uploading a partial assignment in order to keep it from getting lost. I figure that backups and taking care of my in-progress work are my responsibility. That's what Google Docs or a thumb drive are for.

This is actually really common in my profession, for research proposals that have a firm deadline, and the only way to submit is via upload, with a complicated form and multiple attachments, each in their own form.

The main benefit is that people tend to upload final versions at the last minute. Being able to increment protects you from problems on the server end - the server crashes, the net goes down, the power goes out, a typhoon hits...  That way you have a record of the last upload, and it's clear that you weren't lying about there being problems, and if there are problems, you're not out of luck.

[And yes, I know, submitting a week in advance would be better, but not always practical when you're writing a document that has contributions from half a dozen different people on multiple continents who are each writing their own PI proposals, and you're doing this for several different facilities, and your collaborators send important comments three hours before the deadline.

Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26, #56, #141 (mini)
Post by: kherbert05 on October 30, 2012, 08:20:13 PM
If a project has multiple parts that can be turned in over a period of time, I will put the grades in as kids turn in their work. I can't wait till the end and put them all in at the same time. It would be overwhelming. I have a button I have to click for a project to counted as graded. If they haven't turned it in and the due date hasn't passed. The button is unclicked 
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26, #56, #141 (mini)
Post by: Sharnita on October 30, 2012, 10:09:55 PM
If a project has multiple parts that can be turned in over a period of time, I will put the grades in as kids turn in their work. I can't wait till the end and put them all in at the same time. It would be overwhelming. I have a button I have to click for a project to counted as graded. If they haven't turned it in and the due date hasn't passed. The button is unclicked

Yes, If it included a map, a graph a quiz, a report. And the child had turned in some of those but had time to get in the rest I would set up my gradebook so I could record each portion as it came in..
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26, #56, #141 (mini)
Post by: SeptGurl on October 31, 2012, 12:02:20 PM
Update: Meeting with principal

The meeting went pretty well I think. It does not appear that the science teacher's curriculum is required by the district. The principal was not familiar with that curriculum. I gave the principal the handout that we received at Open House. She looked it over, and she saw some areas that she thought were unclear or confusing. She also said she has received a complaint from a parent with another science teacher's class, and she knows DS's teacher and this other teacher are collaborating. She thinks there may be a connection in terms of lack of clarity between the two classes.

In reviewing the handout about the curriculum, the principal had concerns about how students are being graded. She says that this type of curriculum is considered "enrichment," so firm deadlines may stand in the way of measuring what students are learning. I brought that back around to the issue of resources both in parents' homes and in the classroom and said that some kids may be performing at C level not because they don't know the material but because they don't have the personal resources to complete the C-layer work before the deadlines. The principal agreed and said she was glad I had brought up the issue.

When I began discussing concerns more specifically about the science teacher, the principal got a little defensive, but it wasn't too bad. She wanted me to know that she considers this teacher to be excellent because she emphasizes hands-on learning in the classroom. I agreed that it's a positive quality. I said that my concern about the teacher mostly involves communication and organization.

We talked about the chaos surrounding the field trip and the absence for illness and how that affected the deadlines. I told the principal that communication really is key. It's hard for parents to know how to support their kids and monitor their progress when the deadlines are shifting and the status of assignments is unclear. The principal agreed with that. She said it sounds like more information needs to be provided on an ongoing basis. She said she'd have the same concern as a parent.

I specifically addressed the issue of DS being denied the opportunity to do his experiment twice. The principal was concerned about that. She said she wants to speak to the teacher to find out more about the situation. She does not want to see higher-level kids held back so lower-level kids can get caught up. The principal informed me that there are far more than four microscopes available in the school, so she wasn't pleased when I said DS had encountered that problem as a barrier.

We discussed the delay in grading. Almost as soon as I brought it up, the principal said, "That should be all caught up by today. Is it?" I said that I noticed yesterday that nearly all of the missing grades are current.

We talked more broadly about pedagogy and how enrichment curricula are supposed to work. Teachers in the school are not teaching from the same curriculum in any subject or assessing learning in the same way, so each classroom may be unique. The principal plans to meet with all the science teachers now to find out more about their curricula and assessment criteria. She also wants to know how they are addressing the issue of varying resources between kids' families and the question of equal educational opportunity. She said she'll get back with me after she holds the meeting.

Our public school district has identified an achievement gap that affects students of lower socioeconomic status. The district is supposed to be addressing that problem because it continually presents itself in the results of the state assessments. The principal took the equal opportunity concern very seriously and said that if she discovers it exists in this curriculum, she's going to address it.

All in all, I thought it was a positive meeting, and I feel good about the way it played out.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26, #56, #141 (mini), #151
Post by: JenJay on October 31, 2012, 12:07:47 PM
Sounds like a great meeting! I'm curious, did you bring up that the kids have spent three full days watching a movie that seems barely relevant, and what did she have to say about it?
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26, #56, #141 (mini), #151
Post by: SeptGurl on October 31, 2012, 12:41:37 PM
Sounds like a great meeting! I'm curious, did you bring up that the kids have spent three full days watching a movie that seems barely relevant, and what did she have to say about it?

I should have included that. Thanks. Yes, I did bring up the videos. The principal stated (in the context of defending the teacher) that she thinks the teacher has some great videos and makes good use of them. I suppose I could have argued the point, but I opted not to do that. I did say that they mostly recently spent 3 days watching "Osmosis Jones" instead of using class time on the science unit, so she has that information.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26, #56, #141 (mini), #151
Post by: JenJay on October 31, 2012, 01:07:59 PM
Sounds like a great meeting! I'm curious, did you bring up that the kids have spent three full days watching a movie that seems barely relevant, and what did she have to say about it?

I should have included that. Thanks. Yes, I did bring up the videos. The principal stated (in the context of defending the teacher) that she thinks the teacher has some great videos and makes good use of them. I suppose I could have argued the point, but I opted not to do that. I did say that they mostly recently spent 3 days watching "Osmosis Jones" instead of using class time on the science unit, so she has that information.

I'd be worried about a principal who thought that was an acceptable use of class time when half the students were barely getting Cs. Hopefully she was just maintaining a professional attitude while secretly thinking "What the heck?!".
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26, #56, #141 (mini), #151
Post by: thlayly on October 31, 2012, 01:11:57 PM
I agree with JenJay, especially since Osmosis Jones is mildly scientific at best- it's an animated comedy about a white blood cell, not an instructional video. I loved watching fun movies in school like any kid, but I would have hated not being able to get my work done because of said movie. Personally, I liked those movies as a reward for getting something done and when we had extra time.

Anyway, I hope the issue gets resolved soon for you and your son. Good thoughts being sent your way!
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26, #56, #141 (mini), #151
Post by: PastryGoddess on October 31, 2012, 01:34:07 PM
I think you had a pretty productive meeting with the principal.

I think that the principal needs time to speak to both the teacher and the science chair to get a full picture of what's going on.  While Osmosis Jones is a pretty bad movie, there is more to what's going on than watching the video.  The video is just one of many things that are wrong with this class.

Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26, #56, #141 (mini)
Post by: Giggity on October 31, 2012, 02:42:14 PM
When I began discussing concerns more specifically about the science teacher, the principal got a little defensive, but it wasn't too bad. She wanted me to know that she considers this teacher to be excellent because she emphasizes hands-on learning in the classroom.

That's interesting, and currently inaccurate, in view of how much movie-watching they're doing, which is by definition the opposite of hands-on learning.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26, #56, #141 (mini), #151
Post by: kherbert05 on October 31, 2012, 06:27:27 PM
I found the comment about all the teachers not teaching the same curriculum disturbing. You MUST have vertical alignment or you end up with holes that some poor teacher is trying to stuff full with a looming deadline of the state test*.

Since state tests in secondary can effect if a child graduates this is very very important. That doesn't mean you can't put your own personal stamp on things - but you need to highlight what is going to be taught.  My team and I plan extensively together. But you will see 5 different "lessons" if you walk into any one of our rooms. We are making sure the kids get the same information, but it has our personal stamp on in. Example students will research animals. In my classroom they are using World Book of Animals app, making circle maps, making sequencing maps, writing a paragraph and publishing on our blog. In my neighbor's classroom they will make a book that goes in the class library, and they use books to do their research. (Works out well because we don't have enough English Level 16 (beginning 2nd grade reading level) books to divide 3 ways and have a good selection. )

*Please don't yell at me about teaching to the test. If the state sets the final exams, and they do in certain subjects in Texas where I am, you have to make sure the kids are going to have the information to pass the test.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26, #56, #141 (mini), #151
Post by: Marbles on October 31, 2012, 10:45:50 PM
Wow. I've heard of these sorts of assignments being given to students who finish their work quickly or who need the intellectual stimulation, but never as a way of determining grades. I think this teacher (and her colleague?) are significantly mistaken in how this is supposed to work.

Please keep us posted, Coley. I'm quite curious about what the principal has to say after she speaks with the teachers.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26, #56, #141 (mini), #151
Post by: RooRoo on November 01, 2012, 12:03:07 PM
Quote
Our public school district has identified an achievement gap that affects students of lower socioeconomic status. The district is supposed to be addressing that problem because it continually presents itself in the results of the state assessments.

Well, maybe they should make sure that getting high grades is affordable. Families of "students of lower socioeconomic status" may not be able to get their kids to and from school outside bus hours. And they certainly can't afford to buy PowerPoint.

Neither of those things should be required for a higher grade. No student, whether or not they are "students of lower socioeconomic status," should be kept from a higher grade simply because they must spend money for something outside of regular school supplies.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26, #56, #141 (mini), #151
Post by: citadelle on November 02, 2012, 03:33:20 PM
In my experience, this type of grading is referred to as "Grading for Learning"' and is in concept what Coley linked to earlier.

I think one point of confusion is what grades mean to different people. If a C is truly meant to represent average, then not every student will have access to an A. On the other hand, if a person carries the philosophy that every student should have access to an A for doing average work, then the  system would seem unfair.

Another point is that students do have a right to a free education, but they don't have the "right" to an A grade. Though it certainly seems as though Coley's son has earned his A!
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26, #56, #141 (mini), #151
Post by: Sharnita on November 02, 2012, 03:38:52 PM
It can get even more tricky.  I know teachers who were told that if they had too many students with low grades it would adversely affect their evaluations.  At the same time we were told that students should not be getting high grades if they could not pass the state standardized tests and that such disparity might be seen as evidence of grade inflation.  There are times when teachers seem to be sent mixed messages on purpose so that no matter what happens the  people at the top can say "Well, we told them ..."
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26, #56, #141 (mini), #151
Post by: Onyx_TKD on November 02, 2012, 03:47:56 PM
In my experience, this type of grading is referred to as "Grading for Learning"' and is in concept what Coley linked to earlier.

I think one point of confusion is what grades mean to different people. If a C is truly meant to represent average, then not every student will have access to an A. On the other hand, if a person carries the philosophy that every student should have access to an A for doing average work, then the  system would seem unfair.

Another point is that students do have access to a free education, but they don't have the "right" to an A grade. Though it certainly seems as though Coley's son has earned his A!

I don't think anyone here is arguing that every student should receive an A for average work. What people are arguing is that every student should have equal access to the facilities and equipment required to demonstrate above-average work and earn an A. In such an environment, actually earning the A would still require the student to have the ability to grasp the material and the work ethic to perform A-level assignments well, so it would still indicate above average work. I think what people are arguing is that the current system in Coley's son's class will result in grades that reflect things like whether the student can get to school outside normal school hours and whether the student has Microsoft Office at home rather than the skill level and ability of the student.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26, #56, #141 (mini), #151
Post by: jedikaiti on November 02, 2012, 03:53:24 PM
In my experience, this type of grading is referred to as "Grading for Learning"' and is in concept what Coley linked to earlier.

I think one point of confusion is what grades mean to different people. If a C is truly meant to represent average, then not every student will have access to an A. On the other hand, if a person carries the philosophy that every student should have access to an A for doing average work, then the  system would seem unfair.

Another point is that students do have a right to a free education, but they don't have the "right" to an A grade. Though it certainly seems as though Coley's son has earned his A!

True, but everyone should have the opportunity to earn that A if they are so inclined. Requiring extraordinary access to resources (coming in before/after school on a regular basis, for example, or needing internet access at home, for example), denies that opportunity to students who have reduced or no access to those resources, and favors those who do, so you end up with kids who want to do the work to earn the A, but are prevented from doing so due to circumstances beyond their control.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26, #56, #141 (mini), #151
Post by: SeptGurl on November 19, 2012, 03:51:32 PM
An update for anyone who might be curious:

The principal has not followed up with me since our meeting several weeks ago. I have no idea what may or may not have transpired with the science teachers at the school. I am disappointed that she did not follow up as she stated she would; however, I am not entirely surprised.

Good news: DS did indeed earn an A for all the work he put into that science unit. He feels proud of himself for what he accomplished and for doing well on it. That's a positive. He also learned a valuable lesson about why it's important to plan his work ahead of the deadlines.

The class has started the next science unit. In reviewing the schedule DS brought home, it appears that the kids have been allowed to do much of the work in class. I would have to say that some confusion continues because the kids were given a deadline of today to complete an assignment; however, the homework website says it's due Monday the 30th. I don't know how anyone is supposed to keep this straight. It appears that there are fewer assignments this time around.

DS told me today that some of the kids are still finishing work on the previous science unit. Evidently, the teacher has allowed them to continue work on the B and A layers even though the deadline passed. They have to do this on their own time. DS's opinion is that this is unfair because he put in all the extra time before the deadline, and these other kids will have the possibility of earning the same grade he did even though they're so behind. I can't say that I blame him for feeling that way about it. (Of course, I could speculate that perhaps the kids were allowed extra time as a result of my meeting with the principal, but I really have no idea.)

That's all I know. If I ever hear from the principal, I will post an update. Thanks again to everyone for their ideas and suggestions!
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26, #56, #141 (mini), #151, #165
Post by: Sophia on November 19, 2012, 04:03:06 PM
My concern would be that your son doesn't get access to materials because they are being used by the students catching up.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26, #56, #141 (mini), #151, #165
Post by: Zilla on November 19, 2012, 04:10:26 PM
Plus there might be a built in penalty for late work.  As in percentage.
 
OR other parents complained along the lines like you did (rightfully so!) and the teacher had to give an extension.  Based on this thread, I think it's the latter.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26, #56, #141 (mini), #151, #165
Post by: SeptGurl on November 19, 2012, 04:27:39 PM
Plus there might be a built in penalty for late work.  As in percentage.
 
OR other parents complained along the lines like you did (rightfully so!) and the teacher had to give an extension.  Based on this thread, I think it's the latter.

Yep, I'm thinking the same -- either a deduction for late work or that the teacher was required to give an extension. Like I said, I'd just be guessing about that though.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26, #56, #141 (mini), #151, #165
Post by: GSNW on November 19, 2012, 08:24:29 PM
I would be on this teacher if I were you.  Just an email saying, "Schedule says x, your website says y, please clarify," is not out of order. 
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26, #56, #141 (mini), #151
Post by: AnnaJ on November 19, 2012, 08:54:10 PM
An update for anyone who might be curious:

The principal has not followed up with me since our meeting several weeks ago. I have no idea what may or may not have transpired with the science teachers at the school. I am disappointed that she did not follow up as she stated she would; however, I am not entirely surprised.

Good news: DS did indeed earn an A for all the work he put into that science unit. He feels proud of himself for what he accomplished and for doing well on it. That's a positive. He also learned a valuable lesson about why it's important to plan his work ahead of the deadlines.

The class has started the next science unit. In reviewing the schedule DS brought home, it appears that the kids have been allowed to do much of the work in class. I would have to say that some confusion continues because the kids were given a deadline of today to complete an assignment; however, the homework website says it's due Monday the 30th. I don't know how anyone is supposed to keep this straight. It appears that there are fewer assignments this time around.

DS told me today that some of the kids are still finishing work on the previous science unit. Evidently, the teacher has allowed them to continue work on the B and A layers even though the deadline passed. They have to do this on their own time. DS's opinion is that this is unfair because he put in all the extra time before the deadline, and these other kids will have the possibility of earning the same grade he did even though they're so behind. I can't say that I blame him for feeling that way about it. (Of course, I could speculate that perhaps the kids were allowed extra time as a result of my meeting with the principal, but I really have no idea.)

That's all I know. If I ever hear from the principal, I will post an update. Thanks again to everyone for their ideas and suggestions!

Congrats to your son on the A, it sounds as though he did great work.

I have a suggestion about the bolded above - this is an opportunity for your son to that the only thing he can control is his own work.

There may be a good reason the other students have been given more time; as you say, it might be what you said in your meeting, or another parent might have also talked to the teacher or principal. 

The teacher may have looked at how many students earned an A, and if she thought there were too few she only had a couple of choices - either lower the amount of work needed for the A (which would have been really unfair) or extend the deadline.  The principal may have suggested an extension based on misunderstood due dates.  Or it may be a screw up on the part of the teacher.  :P

I think it's reasonable to point out to your son that a) this is a 'life is not always fair' moment and b) he has completed his extra work and can relax a bit while all of those other students are struggling to keep up with the current work and chase that A for the last set of assignments.  :)
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26, #56, #141 (mini), #151
Post by: SeptGurl on November 20, 2012, 05:43:51 AM
An update for anyone who might be curious:

The principal has not followed up with me since our meeting several weeks ago. I have no idea what may or may not have transpired with the science teachers at the school. I am disappointed that she did not follow up as she stated she would; however, I am not entirely surprised.

Good news: DS did indeed earn an A for all the work he put into that science unit. He feels proud of himself for what he accomplished and for doing well on it. That's a positive. He also learned a valuable lesson about why it's important to plan his work ahead of the deadlines.

The class has started the next science unit. In reviewing the schedule DS brought home, it appears that the kids have been allowed to do much of the work in class. I would have to say that some confusion continues because the kids were given a deadline of today to complete an assignment; however, the homework website says it's due Monday the 30th. I don't know how anyone is supposed to keep this straight. It appears that there are fewer assignments this time around.

DS told me today that some of the kids are still finishing work on the previous science unit. Evidently, the teacher has allowed them to continue work on the B and A layers even though the deadline passed. They have to do this on their own time. DS's opinion is that this is unfair because he put in all the extra time before the deadline, and these other kids will have the possibility of earning the same grade he did even though they're so behind. I can't say that I blame him for feeling that way about it. (Of course, I could speculate that perhaps the kids were allowed extra time as a result of my meeting with the principal, but I really have no idea.)

That's all I know. If I ever hear from the principal, I will post an update. Thanks again to everyone for their ideas and suggestions!

Congrats to your son on the A, it sounds as though he did great work.

I have a suggestion about the bolded above - this is an opportunity for your son to that the only thing he can control is his own work.

There may be a good reason the other students have been given more time; as you say, it might be what you said in your meeting, or another parent might have also talked to the teacher or principal. 

The teacher may have looked at how many students earned an A, and if she thought there were too few she only had a couple of choices - either lower the amount of work needed for the A (which would have been really unfair) or extend the deadline.  The principal may have suggested an extension based on misunderstood due dates.  Or it may be a screw up on the part of the teacher.  :P

I think it's reasonable to point out to your son that a) this is a 'life is not always fair' moment and b) he has completed his extra work and can relax a bit while all of those other students are struggling to keep up with the current work and chase that A for the last set of assignments.  :)

Yep. It's another opportunity for DS to learn that life isn't always fair. He's had several of them the past few weeks over various issues. To DS's knowledge, at the time of the deadline, only two other kids were in line to earn an A. Perhaps there was an evaluation of the process that led to that low number initial As. I'm all for that. Process problems shouldn't stand in the kids' way. And that was my bigger-picture concern when I met with the principal.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26, #56, #141 (mini), #151, #165
Post by: AnnaJ on November 20, 2012, 10:06:01 AM
It does seem like those "life is not fair" moments happen in clumps, don't they  :(  I remember a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon where Calvin's father gave him the "life's not fair" talk and Calvin grumped back "But why isn't life not fair in my favor?"  :)  Sort of like I feel about it!
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26, #56, #141 (mini), #151, #165
Post by: magicdomino on November 20, 2012, 12:50:16 PM
Plus there might be a built in penalty for late work.  As in percentage.
 
OR other parents complained along the lines like you did (rightfully so!) and the teacher had to give an extension.  Based on this thread, I think it's the latter.

These could be kids who wanted A's or B's, but couldn't come in early, or work during their study period.  We were discussing earlier in the thread how unfair it was that trying to get anything better than a C required working in the classroom outside of the regular class time.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26, #56, #141 (mini), #151, #165
Post by: artk2002 on November 21, 2012, 12:45:37 PM
Plus there might be a built in penalty for late work.  As in percentage.
 
OR other parents complained along the lines like you did (rightfully so!) and the teacher had to give an extension.  Based on this thread, I think it's the latter.

These could be kids who wanted A's or B's, but couldn't come in early, or work during their study period.  We were discussing earlier in the thread how unfair it was that trying to get anything better than a C required working in the classroom outside of the regular class time.

Never the less, exchanging one unfairness (far too restrictive conditions and deadlines) for another (extending the deadlines, unfair to those who worked hard to meet them) isn't the way to deal with the problem.

My opinion of the competence of this teacher (and of the school in general) is not very high.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26, #56, #141 (mini), #151, #165
Post by: SeptGurl on November 21, 2012, 04:30:16 PM
Plus there might be a built in penalty for late work.  As in percentage.
 
OR other parents complained along the lines like you did (rightfully so!) and the teacher had to give an extension.  Based on this thread, I think it's the latter.

These could be kids who wanted A's or B's, but couldn't come in early, or work during their study period.  We were discussing earlier in the thread how unfair it was that trying to get anything better than a C required working in the classroom outside of the regular class time.

Never the less, exchanging one unfairness (far too restrictive conditions and deadlines) for another (extending the deadlines, unfair to those who worked hard to meet them) isn't the way to deal with the problem.

My opinion of the competence of this teacher (and of the school in general) is not very high.

It does seem like they are fixing one problem by creating another. I don't know what other options the teacher/school would have to level the playing field for the kids who may not have had sufficient resources to earn an A by the original deadline. I'm hopeful that this will be a one-time occurrence -- as in the teacher/school learned something from this last experience and are working to ensure that it doesn't repeat itself in future science units.

At present, DS has started the A-layer work for the current science unit. Ironically, he was ready to take the B-layer quiz on Monday, but he wasn't allowed to because she didn't have it prepared yet. Despite that, she let him start the A-layer work anyway so he'd have something useful to do in class. Yesterday, there was a substitute and busy work. To my knowledge, the kids have through the 30th to complete all the work on the current unit. We'll see what happens.

I am genuinely disappointed that the principal did not follow through with me as she said she would. That is rather unimpressive. Even if she had nothing new to report (couldn't get a meeting scheduled with the teachers yet, etc.), she could still contact me to let me know she's working on it.
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26, #56, #141 (mini), #151, #165
Post by: Sophia on November 21, 2012, 05:02:44 PM
One thing I noticed is that the teacher had:

I can almost understand doing one or the other.  But both?%#$#$%
Title: Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26, #56, #141 (mini), #151, #165
Post by: JacklynHyde on November 21, 2012, 08:46:05 PM
I waded through all 12 pages of this thread.  What worries me the most in this situation is the possibility that your son (and other kids) will have their curiosity squished by the burden of the work.  It looks like the idea is to build upon the basics and delve into deeper thinking (Bloom's Taxonomy has been mentioned), which is commendable.  How many students decided that they just couldn't make the extra time and effort, so they must not be good at science?  YIKES!  That is the ultimate in rudeness on the part of the teacher.