Friday, June 13, 2008

Grades-to D or Not to D

Received a phone call from my favorite AP yesterday about 3 of my students who averaged out to 69's for the year. Kinda embarrassed about it because I thought I had double-checked that. He was actually apologetic because some glitch in the grading system did not average out the final grades for us. Pretty sure I can add multiples and divide by two however. Obviously I can't since I missed these kids' grades. See, we are highly discouraged from giving a 69 or even a 68. In all honesty, I typically bump the kids up that one point. One kid is Sped and I am OK with moving her up because I've seen progress from her. The other two have gone from pretty decent B/C students to failing this past semester. They are both in the same class and so hormonally driven to aggravate each other that they managed to antagonize the whole class. Both turned in their last project a week late which I reluctantly gave a 50 instead of a zero because it was a week until school got out. Both were given chances to do extra credit. Both were given study packets for their final exam which they both bombed. I don't know what other classes they failed or what good repeating the semester will do them but I just couldn't tell my AP to give them the point. He has been an extremely supportive AP and altogether nice dude. The fact that he called me to ask about it speaks volumes about some of the differences between suburbia-land ISD and Dallas ISD. He may even have to catch from flak from some parents who were duly notified with three progress reports and a phone call. Sometimes parents are quite civil and understanding until they actually see the grade on the report card. Hearing the word, Failing, on the phone seems to have less of an impact than seeing the grade on paper. My emotional "Love the Sinner not the Sin" part was saying that the easy thing would have been to just give them the point. My critical-thinking "Thou Shalt Not" part was saying that they didn't work for it or even learned the material enough to earn the point. I am second guessing myself today but I guess when I sub for summer school in July I might find out for sure if I made the right decision. Won't they be happy to see me.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Swan song for a Helluva Year

My family refers to the past year as "a helluva year". My whole focus the past couple of months had just been to get through the school year w/o committing myself into the Parkland psych ward. Yesterday the last exam ended at 1:00 with grades due by 4:30. Hope everyone showed up, hope the front office didn't send out multiple emailing about how this kid or that kid should be marked failing because of absences, then NO, never mind, he has suddenly made up all 2,065 absences he had by sitting in the front office for two hours making up his exam he missed while being suspended for throwing food during the three lunch period long food fight.....If that made no sense then imagine trying to finish grades while being bombarded with contradicting emails. Anyway, I walk my paper grade validation sheets down to the office even though our grades are on-line and just as I hand them over everything goes kinda gray and fuzzy and I am suddenly sitting on the floor just as light-headed as can be. Well that was interesting. The school nurse asked me about my stress levels. Hee hee. I think my teacher fuse just couldn't handle the relief and just clicked off. My swan song for the school year: sitting on the floor of the office laughing like a loon. Put a fork in me, my room is packed up, my cabinets are bursting with things I really don't want to see for several months, and I am so glad this "helluva year" is over.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Pearl Story

"Pearl" cheats. It doesn't matter what we are working on, I can say with certainty that she has never done anything w/o copying some portion from someone else. At first I believed that she was trying to cover up reading difficulties or was just really lost but over time I realized that my Pearl is just a scammer. One of the first things you pick up as a teacher is the "Lingo": Scammer, Dude, Trippin', my personal favorite, "Eskippiando". Pearl has taken scamming to a artistic level. Cell phone cheating, little scraps of notes cheating, have to move all students away from her during tests cheating, paper on the floor cheating, writing on leg cheating, you always lose my paper scamming, tapping answer on desk cheating, copying from papers taken from my inbox, taking papers from other kid's binders, someone stole my paper scamming, emergency in the bathroom cheating. The best was the surprise visit before school to say hello and then taking a test off my desk to fill out and pass off as her own later in the day. Too bad she grabbed one of my SPED modified tests for my Foundations kids. That incident was actually kind of amusing. Pearl is not a morning person and she had to get up early for that. She probably spent more time trying to scam than it would have taken her to actually do the work or study. Pearl's many scams did make me realize several things about myself.
1.) Despite it all, I still trust my kids. I do believe that the majority of my kids will do the right thing.
2.) I am not stupid. I do have to do a little more work like multiple tests to prevent cheating. I have also moved my in-boxes next to my desk.
3.) The best thing to do is monitor my kids constantly. Not just in case of cheating. In case they need help, in case they don't get it, in case they just need a little attention, in case they don't believe they can do it on their own w/o cheating, in case they don't how to do anything w/o cheating.