Friday, November 21, 2003

The Yin & Yang of Parents

A cosmic balance exists between parents who are not involved enough, and parents who are way too involved. Today, I received an email from a parent who was concerned that her son's report card averages were each off by 1 point. She wanted the grades changed, and if we had sent the report cards to the District (Region), those records changed as well. Now, being picky is every parent's right. If I had noticed the same thing on my own report card in high school, I probably would have asked the teacher about it. But as a teacher, with hundreds of pieces of paper in my bag, and plenty of kids who are actually failing, I am just a little irritated to be justifying a 93% versus a 94%. The truth is, she was both right & wrong. If you calculated the average based on the grades I wrote for each category (homework, quizzes, projects), it DID come out a 94 rather than a 93. But the thing is, FIRST I calculated the average for each section to two decimal places, then computed the precise final grade to two decimal places, THEN rounded each number off when I recorded it on his report card. I mean, for heaven's sake, who cares whether he received a 93.275 or just a 93%? Wouldn't you rather see an 89% rather than an 88.8% for homework? So, I explained all of this in a very polite email (she has never been rude about it) and included all the exact numbers and explained the discrepancy.

Meanwhile, there are parents I almost never see, whose kids are failing, who come in and argue (really argue) between themselves during conferences, rather than trying to find out why their child is doing so poorly.

I found out today that one parent lied to me during my conference with her! Her son's behavior has been pretty bad... he is constantly bothering people around him, during class, in line, you name it. Constantly. All. The. Time. She spent a solid ten minutes telling me that she didn't know what had happened, she'd never had any problems with him before he came to our school... heavy insinuation that it was somehow our fault that he started misbehaving, disguised in placating statements about making sure it stops. Anyway, another student who was in the same fifth grade class as he was informed us today that he was suspended five times and was always in trouble at that school. One suspension was for throwing the class terrarium out the window when he was not allowed to feed whatever inhabited it! Compared to THAT, he's downright well-behaved at our school!

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