Teacher in delicate negotiations with a student in What Grade Would You Like?
I think if the kids watched this, even THEY could see the absurdity of it all
Good job Teachbad.
Even 6th graders have figured out this scam-terrific job ,Mr. T-should be required watching at all school board meetings…..
Perception! That’s what it’s all about. The perception that all students can achieve. The perception that all low-achieving students are passing their classes legitimately. The perception that all minimally-achieving graduating seniors are really earning their diplomas. Perception is how you keep people happy, and keep your job. You can do everything in the world to help a lazy, unmotivated student pass your class, but if said student does not take the help and actually pass, then you -the uninspiring, overpaid, just-wants-his-time-off-in-the-summer teacher- are the one to blame! The parent calls to complain, and then you have to speak with an administrator about “giving the kid a chance.” However, if you excuse a few assignments, curve a test score, and give healthy amounts of overly-easy extra credit, and said lazy, unmotivated student passes, then the parent is happy, your principal is happy, and you -the inspiring, woefully underpaid, hard-working and resourceful educator- are the hero!
It’s all bullshit. It’s a game. I myself am a player. Right now I’m in the process of conceiving ways to turn Fs to Ds for my low-achieving, at-risk (mostly lazy, mostly apathetic) students, so that I do not get the phone calls, and do not have to speak to an administrator… At least for most of them. A few of the laziest are just going to fucking fail. You can’t turn a 35% into a D, no matter what tricks you pull out of the bag.
By the way, thank you, Mr. Teachbad, for this blog. Your insights are spot-on and hilarious (and depressing, since they’re true; but that’s just how it is). Being able to rant in response helps to keep my blood-pressure down. Getting the anger out on here allows me to forget about it in the classroom, and to concentrate on the kids who do give a shit and who do want to learn…
I think that the only remedy that could possibly turn some of this around starts at the K-1-2-3 levels. The kids who Mr. J. is describing come to middle school already unwilling or unable to “DO SCHOOL.” They are already jaded and cynical and dare me to teach them anything.
The real question here is why they come with this attitude. Worthless work? Boredom? If kids aren’t engaged, the exercise is pretty pointless – not that I’m blaming teachers – they’re just doing what they’re supposed to do.
Attendance is the biggest issue with most kids that fail, but of course, nowadays students don’t have to attend if they take the class online. Unfortunately, this student would give up when he was not able to find “Mystery 101″ in the class schedule.
I am beleaguered by requests from parents and school counselors to provide work for long-time absent students due to illness, family trips, or suspension from school as if I could represent my classroom instruction in a few pieces of paper. I am a science teacher. We do hands-on science and their is detailed, prolonged interaction during instruction. How can I send this home? You gotta come to school–school is where the learning is happening.
Man, do you know how close to reality this video is?????
Mr. J, you are correct, it is a game. I can’t tell you how many miracle 70′s I have put on a seniors grade card just so they can walk. ( In Texas 70 and above is passing.) Hell, even this year when I could have told everyone, “Fuck-you” I pulled 70′s out of the air. And I do not know why? I guess I didn’t want to go into retirement and be called by the school or parents asking why “Lil” Johnny didn’t pass.
Oh god Sean….I did the same thing. I really thought about failing the whole sorry lot because F’ it I’m retiring and they did ditshit work this spring. Then I thought about the phone calls I could get this summer and the 70s magically appeared.
Well congrads on retirement. My last day was Tues of last week and I just walked out of a place I went every single day for 25 years. (5 more were at other schools). My principal pissed me off the last day when she publicly lit into one of our hardest working teachers so I didn’t even bother say goodbye to her or her admins. Just got in the car and drove off….and you know what I bet my principal didn’t even notice. But it’s over now and I can hardly believe it. So far not a drop of bittersweetness….just total relief.
Congrats Ellie!!!! Everyday since I called it quits I either read or see something on TV that makes me glad I am done with the career.
I didn’t go in for the so called workday. I called in sick. My grades, my attendance forms already signed. Didn’t want to see the cheesy cake for the retirees, didn’t want people I hated tell me ” We’ll miss you.” I worked in my garden and sat on the porch drinking coffee. It was a wonderful day!
Sean, I hope that I have your level of compassion/tolerance when I’m retiring. I think I’d leave a note with my final grade report: I’m retired, bitches… call and complain to someone else. (Yeah, I really probably wouldn’t do that, but it’s a nice thought.) …A colleague told me that a former administrator told her to give out 50s instead of 0s for missing work, that way when not-so-motivated students finally decide to get with it, they have a less difficult time bringing their grade up to a 60 (passing, poorly, in my state). Another example of the bullshit, the game…
I teach in a “middle of the road” high school in Montgomery County, Maryland. The 50s for missing work? Yeah, that’s our SCHOOL POLICY. In writing, and approved by our administrators, central office, and (I assume) our superintendent. The only way to give a student a zero for a missing assignment is to call home and document that we have called home on our school note system. Our county policy is to give a minumum of 50% to student that have at least “attempted” the assignment. We also are “encouraged” to have less than 50% Ds and Es (this includes no shows, and there is always at least one!
Today I saw on the news that we have one of the highest graduation rates in the country-85%. No shit Sherlock! It’s nearly impossible to fail!!
My husband has a “real job” and cannot for the life of him understand why I insist on sending our children to private school when we live in the “best educational county in the best educational state.”
Oops….and by “50% Ds and Es I meant 20%!!
This is why I quit teaching in a public school. The testing circus was one thing, but the complete and utter lack of personal accountability for students and the expectation that our morals were just that low that we could be bullied into *lying* (and yes, that’s what it is) about each precious snowflake’s mastery of the subject was more than I could handle.
And it’s not even good for the kids. Not remotely. This same male bovine excrement happening for years under the guise of “social promotion” is what gives us 9th graders who can’t multiply or write a complete sentence. And then we wonder why they have a bad attitude and hate school. In my opinion algebra sucks enough (sorry math teachers!) if you know what you’re doing, but when you have no basic math skills, it’s misery. Could these skills have been remediated earlier? Probably, but that would require a) time, b) money, c) you showing up, d) you caring, and (here’s the kicker) e) honesty about how little you actually know. None of those criteria are typically in great supply at the average inner city school. But hey, get excited! Though you may not be able to add 5+9 without drawing tick marks on your paper, the administration believes in you so much that they’re throwing a pep rally JUST FOR YOU, because, you know, a shiny blue or green necklace was really all that was standing between you and standardized test proficiency for all these years.
I was waiting for the kid to say he would graduate because his mom already sent out the graduation party invitations.
I love it–just perfect!
Hey, NormaL–what’s wrong with that? Sounds like a perfectly reasonable reason to have Johnny walk. LOL
Giving conduct grades right now. Not quite sure how to assign letter grades to the conduct of students who almost never show up. I mean, technically, they weren’t disruptive or anything… right?
Hey, Roxanna! I love your book. My best friend and I have been giving completion grades. Kid was here, kid did the classwork (for the most part)–kid gets a few crummy points. Our conduct grades are 1-2-3-4. I give most everyone a “2″–meets behavior expectations–I stopped giving 1′s–exceeds standards. How much better behaved can one be than to meet our standrads? I do hand out 3′s (approaching standards) and 4′s (fails to meet standards) when deserved.
I give really bad for “work” but absolutely fantastic for “behavior ” (did not throw a chair, did not stab anybody, was never late).
Summertime, here we come. Time to pretend for a couple of months that I don’t have a crappy job the rest of the year.
here’s one for all of us….I just got off the phone with an Indian teacher from my department (at-risk alternative school of course) who finally is getting given up a dream of teaching here and getting the hell out. She just got a job offer in China at an International School. They told her she would only be teaching Chemistry with a huge block of time to plan…..why….because they feel planning is critical to teaching. DUH, DUH, DUH………
Here’s the clincher…she was going to take the IB training course here before going to China but they said don’t bother. Here IB training revolves around mostly classroom management. In China it evolves around teaching the curriculum. Can you imagine….IB kids are pretty darn motivated and if their teachers need tons of management skills the rest of us are totally f***ed ….which of course we know daily. Her interviewer told her there are NO discipline problems. And he started in the American school system so he understands what we deal with.
Well sheesh, of course they have to plan in China, they’re teaching stuff in a foreign language. Chinese is hard. Teachers here don’t need to plan because it’s all so easy. That’s why we have to fire them all for being so darn bad at it. Wait…
I teach science and math in China…and while it’s true we have no serious discipline problems, the students aren’t as motivated as we in the west think they are. (Or as they are in the west under tiger mothering.) Most of the students are lazy as shit and cheating is rampant. And students are NOT allowed to fail, under nearly any circumstance. At my last school it took all of the foreign teachers working together to get the Chinese admin to allow us to give F’s to this student who did absolutely nothing ever for anyone AND who had a really shitty attitude as well!
In addition, facilities – especially science facilities – are pretty bad, even in the good international schools. In China all education is for-profit so the goal is to keep students in the seats and spend no money.
Having said that, I wouldn’t go back to teaching in the states for..er..all the tea in China! The pay can be very good (especially compared to the cost of living), there is none of the constant testing bullshit you guys have, and by and large we tend to be left alone to teach by a mostly Chinese admin who really don’t care as long as the rents don’t complain.
Nevertheless, we have our stresses, and having just found this site (and spent a lot of my prep time reading and sending bits to teaching friends) I just want to give a great thanks to Mr. Teachbad and everyone who contributes!
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