Author Topic: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATES #26, #56, #141 (mini), #151, #165  (Read 33534 times)

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Sharnita

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Re: Teacher situation (long)
« Reply #30 on: October 26, 2012, 09:51:36 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

Thipu1

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Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATE #26
« Reply #31 on: October 26, 2012, 10:02:48 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.   

« Last Edit: October 26, 2012, 10:09:31 AM by Thipu1 »

Zilla

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Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATE #26
« Reply #32 on: October 26, 2012, 10:22:07 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.

camlan

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Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATE #26
« Reply #33 on: October 26, 2012, 10:26:13 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.
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn


BeagleMommy

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Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATE #26
« Reply #34 on: October 26, 2012, 10:41:56 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.

Slartibartfast

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Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATE #26
« Reply #35 on: October 26, 2012, 10:43:29 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".

GSNW

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Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATE #26
« Reply #36 on: October 26, 2012, 10:45:40 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. 

Sharnita

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Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATE #26
« Reply #37 on: October 26, 2012, 10:51:16 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.

Coley

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Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATE #26
« Reply #38 on: October 26, 2012, 11:09:35 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.

Coley

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Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATE #26
« Reply #39 on: October 26, 2012, 11:18:05 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.)
« Last Edit: October 26, 2012, 11:48:22 AM by Coley »

Deetee

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Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATE #26
« Reply #40 on: October 26, 2012, 12:34:16 PM »
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.

Girlie

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Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATE #26
« Reply #41 on: October 26, 2012, 01:17:29 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.  :-\

bopper

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Re: Teacher situation (long) -- UPDATE #26
« Reply #42 on: October 26, 2012, 01:42:37 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.

magicdomino

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Re: Teacher situation (long)
« Reply #43 on: October 26, 2012, 01:46:42 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.

weeblewobble

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Re: Teacher situation (long)
« Reply #44 on: October 26, 2012, 02:02:28 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.