The Last Chance Train Has Already Left The Station

This post over at Have a Gneiss Day speaks to that 11th hour rush that some parents and students think will be able to pull that glaring F up into the passing zone at the last minute. 

 Our quarter ended Friday and, unfortunately, I had to be out of town for the better part of last week.  The thing is, there wasn’t much that needed to be completed this week so it’s not like my being gone is going to have a real impact on their grades.  There is very little the failing students, and by failing I mean DESPERATELY failing like you-have-a-40%-in-my-class failing, could have done this week to change their grades. 

At the beginning of the quarter I sent a letter home to be read, signed and returned by both parents and students.  It briefly outlined the unit and explained the projects the students would complete.  It also explained that the weekly homework would be an essential part of successfully completing the final project. I send home progress reports every two weeks, if you have less than an 80%, it must be returned signed.  If the report doesn’t come back signed, I call home.  The last report I sent home was two weeks ago and it said that the deadline for making up missed work was last Friday, no exceptions.  The report included a list of the missed work, and the kids were given options as to when they could come see me for help.  A few kids came, some even made up enough to improve their grades by 10-15%!

 The day before I left (a mere three days before the end of the quarter), the parent coordinator came down to my room and wanted to set up an appointment for one of my darlings and her mother.  This student does NOTHING for my class.  She shows up fairly regularly, but does not turn work in.  This includes homework and classwork.  Now, I know she CAN do the work, because on the rare occasion she decides to put forth some effort, she does a nice job.  She struggles a little, but she has never taken advantage of my tutoring sessions, never come to see me at lunch or after-school, never asked for help, never asked for an extension or extra credit work, never made up the numerous quizzes she didn’t show up to take the first time around.  She has a 32%. 

The mother is ‘very, deeply concerned’ about this, and is claiming that she was unaware of the situation.  She wanted to get enough make up work and extra credit work to get her daughter to at least a 70%.  I literally laughed when I heard this request.  I mean, please, I have a record of everything I have sent home, and even if her darling little girl has been forging her signature, I have left at least 5 messages on her cell phone and at her work, none of which have been returned.  I just don’t buy it that she didn’t know.  I informed the parent coordinator that the meeting would have to wait until I returned, and it would have to be about how to prevent this situation for the 4th quarter since there’s nothing that can be done at this point to salvage this period.  I’d almost put money on it that the mom won’t show up for any scheduled meetings.  I never saw her at parent-teacher conferences, and I have a list nearly a page long of communication attempts, mostly messages that never got returned.  The girl will fail this quarter and perhaps she’ll decided to put pen to paper a little more often for this last few months, but it will have to be HER decision, not mine or her mother’s.



Filed under student work, students

4 responses to “The Last Chance Train Has Already Left The Station

  1. 15 more years

    Let me tell you that you are a far better person than I am in the number and record of contacts that you made or attempted to make.

    I have found that progress reports (unless mailed home, and even that is iffy) are a big waste of time. Many times, as you know, the child will forge the parents signature. Phone calls are difficult, because many parents (not that I agree with this) don’t want to be disturbed at work. I contacted the mother of one of my students last week- he has been failing since October, and we have had several meetings. Now it’s crunch time, and he may not graduate. When I reached her at work, she said, “You told me this before and nothing has changed. Now I have rent to pay”, and hung up on me.

    How much can we do? When do the kids take responsibility?

  2. 15 more years

    And thank you for the plug!!

  3. One of the reasons I can keep those kinds of records and contact as much as I do is that I have only two classes. Since I teach ELA, Social Studies, ESL and Advisory I just see the same two classes of kids for between 1 1/2 and 2 1/2 hours per day. It’s a lot of time with the same students, but it’s way easier to keep track of who’s struggling, who needs a phone call, and who needs a letter home. If I ever end up teaching more than 60 or 70 a year there’s no way I’ll be able to keep it up.

    It’s funny, I often want to post something, only to see that at least one other person has just written on the same topic! Serendipitous…

  4. Boy, you have nailed everything right on the head! Good job doing your part–it’s sad that this student and her mother can’t get it together to do theirs.

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