Thursday, January 12, 2006


It's finals week, and all of us--teachers and students-- have reached new desperation. Compound this with our runaway and nerd season events every weekend, and we've gone quite mad.

I witnessed a trusted soul turn in another student's journal, an argument over which student called me a whore, and bizarre challenges to my grades. I have two students pretty upset that they aren't getting A's this semester. Let's meet them.

Buffy is on an IEP--which means she is some sort of special ed. She normally watches me slack jawed while I teach and after the elaborate song and dance of my teaching will raise her hand and grace me with a robot like, "I'on't git it.". So I back up, thanking her for the question and noting that if she had this question, lots of other students probably had it too. So I probe, "What's the first thing I said that you had trouble with?".

"I'on't git it. Nunuvit."

So I dance back to the beginning. Even when I am tempted to go back to "Hi, I'm Ms. Educat and this is English II.". I have rexplained and paraphrased every work of literature we have read. I have drawn pictures of every form of writing we have done. And at the end, I always look at Buffy, smile, and say, "Does that help?".

"No. I'on't git it."

She muddles through her work and despite her low estimation of her ability, has eeked out a C. She's average! She never gits it but has worked up to average!! Ring the bells!

But no, she wants an A. Why come she don't have one?

I'on't git it, so let's move on.

Jody has just tested out of English Language Learning. This means his conversation skills are rated proficient. Anyone care to imagine what that means about his instructional reading level? He works mightily in class. He wants the short path out, but I don't often give it to him. I let him work at home to finish assignments that take the rest of the class twenty minutes--and he does it at home. I praise him to the class and call him my hardest worker, and his work shows. He's making a B. He's above average! But he hardly looks at me in class today and ignores me repeatedly and when I finally pull his problem out, he just can't get why he doesn't have an A.

Learning should hurt. It should be a good hurt, but it should hurt. Somewhere, in big and small ways, we have communicated that an A is everyone's right. We are all excellent. Again, I'on't git it.

So when I tell you this, I am not asking for an A. I just want credit. I just want credit for not having said any of these things out loud this week.
  • I did not tell the child who told me "thass retarded" that he couldn't leave on a hall pass in the middle of the final that perhaps it is retarded, and he can write it an IEP and stick it on a short bus, but it isn't going away.
  • I asked no child if they were raised by servants.
  • When Jesus fell asleep in class, I didn't sing "Away In A Manger" (and I will admit that if it started on a lower note, I might have).
  • At no time, did I use the phrase "despite your best efforts" as in "You have a D, despite your best efforts."

There. Thank you. Now I love people again.


Inheritor of Heaven said...

Wow, even up here in Minnesota (where we have accents like Tom Brokaw) I get the same stuff in class regarding grades that you get way down there in OKC. "But Mr. Inheritor, I turned in all that homework (which was actually due 9 weeks ago), shouldn't I be passing now?" Actually no, Johnny, because your average was only 23% and when I add the pittance of points these are worth now (which should be zero) ....hmmm... your average went to a whopping 24%. I guess it must be your horrible test percentage that is keeping your grade down. "But why Mr. Inheritor are the tests worth so much?" Because they tell me more about what you actually know and remember than this homework (that I saw you copying from your pal yesterday).

The Crib Chick said...

I'm sure you're glad you didn't say those things out loud in class...but MAN, am I glad you can say them here.

This is your safe place, Educat.

My theory is that America has convinced itself that it has an 'A' until proven guilty.

(Word Verification today was 'gursor'; Neanderthal predecssor of our modern 'cursor')

Scott Jones said...

Congratulations on not falling into the trap of grade inflation. You are a hero. Keep up the good work.

Amerloc said...

First off, Tom Brokaw doesn't have an accent. He talks normal. It's these folk in Texas who talk with an accent.

Second, I absolutely have to chime in with my story about Mike.

Mike rode the short bus for behavioral reasons. He was one of the brighter kids I taught other than the fact that he could never understand why people were so upset by his mouth, he'd get frustrated by that lack of understanding, and bail. Sometimes there were three or four adults chasing him through the weeds and bushes that inhabit that part of the desert southwest.

Anyway (back to this lifetime, and the story), after carefully and (sometimes) generously nursing the numbers up to a "D," I handed him his progress report. The look on his face said, "This makes no sense." The words from his mouth said, "You might as well give me a f*****g 'F'." Kid was furious. Had no clue that doing pencil sketches wasn't going to earn him anything better than an F if he didn't alternate it more consistently with actually turning in assigned work. Or something. Anything. As long as it had to do with English.

Ahhh. Good times.