"Motivation is as much an effect as a cause of learning." Ausubel
A while back I went on quite a rant about "school management databases." The system where teachers input the grades and the parents can log on and keep track of everything their child is doing. This week I was reminded why I hate those.
I have been watching one of my Son's grade in math suffer. Missed homework assignments. Poor grades on quizzes. In fact, I have been watching them for nearly 2 months. I have asked him many times about those assignments. I have volunteered to tutor or help in any way I could if he was having trouble. I encouraged him to see his teacher and request help. He assured me he was handling it. Yet each week - more missing assignments. If I approached him about it, the emotions ran high and patience ran low.
Last week I warned him that I was beginning to feel that I needed to contact the school to find out what the problem might be. I absolutely detest getting involved with teachers about grades in high school. I just really feel this is the time that our children need to navigate themselves as students. And once again - he did not want me to intervene with more promises of taking care of it.
This week I received an evening phone call from his teacher. She wanted to inform me that he had not turned in 10 homework assignments this marking period. She also wanted me to know that he had failed his test taken that day. She told me that she waited to contact me because she wanted to see what his exam grade would be. I responded, "Well I imagine when you don't do the work for 2 months, you would fail the test."
She then proceeded to ask me if I had been on the parent site to view his grades. I responded, "Of course. I've been aware of this since the end of January when it began. I have spoken with him numerous times. He told me he was handling it."
Then I got into the nitty gritty of the problem with her. I said:
"Here's the problem. I've watched my two sons turn in dozens upon dozens of homework assignments the week that the marking period closes. The teachers then proceed to give them full credit for the late work. That late work could sometimes even be months late. So I guess when they know that it doesn't really matter if it is completed on time, they don't work diligently or learn to be responsible or accountable to deadlines."
Unfortunately this practice has placed my boys in a very unrealistic position. Turning in late work on a consistent basis should not be acceptable. The deadline is the deadline and if they miss it - then the grade should reflect that.
At this point, she told me that the policy in her class was not to accept the work late. So I said,
"Well, if he didn't do the work. Then I guess he gets a zero. Maybe he will learn a lesson."
She wanted to continue the conversation telling me what a bright kid he was. Yada yada yada...
I reiterated the point again -
"If you don't accept late work and he's already missed 10 homework assignments, and there are only 2 weeks left in the quarter - I'm not sure what you want me to say. If he didn't do the work - fail him."
I felt her surprise.
I think she was expecting to be met with a parent who would negotiate a plan. But, in my eyes, my child deserved the grade that reflected the effort and work he had put into it. Whatever that might be...
As far as I was concerned, this was between she and my son. Calling me was fruitless. Did she really think that I hadn't tried to encourage him?
I told her that I had parented this situation for 2 months. I had talked. Cajoled. Enticed. Punished. Threatened. Apparently none of which had any affect. He clearly believed he would turn the work in late and everything would be fine - just as it always had been. His prior experience would overrule anything I said.
Let's be honest - if she had already watched his grade suffer for a full 2 months - why bother to call me at the end of the quarter?
The phone call ended with her asking me to speak with my son and send her a follow up email.
So, Son walks through the door and I relay the conversation. He shakes his head, argues - irritated that she called me. I asked all of the same questions I had for the past two months. He gave all of the same vague answers that he had each time before. AbsoluItely nothing had been accomplished. Except for one thing.
Now the teacher had contacted me. I had tried to leave this between my son and his teacher. I had tried to teach my 16 year old that HE was responsible for his actions.
He promised me that he would do all of the assignments and take them to her. I reminded him that she said she would not accept late work. He proceeded to tell me that he watched her accept several late assignments from another student just that day. So rather than focusing on his own error, he wants to hold her accountable for doing for him what she had done for another.
When I was in school, unless you were absent or sick, the assignment was due on the day it was due. If you didn't do it - you got a zero. I can't think of any teachers that would have let me walk up to them 5 days before the quarter ends with fistful of past homework from 6 weeks ago to receive full credit.
So anyhow -
He met with her today. Took 8 of the 10 missing assignments in to her. He texted me after he met with her to tell me that she had accepted 4 of the late assignments and he got help on the other things he didn't understand.
I'm over it.
It's simple - we all have a job here.
The teacher teaches, gives assignments, collects them and grades them.
The student learns, completes assignments, turns them in and owns the grade.
It is not MY grade.
Before you called me to question me - did you ask my child?
Did you ask HIM why he wasn't turning in the assignments?
Did you hold HIM accountable to your expectation?
Do you think I didn't know he wasn't doing the work?
How could I not?
Those grades are posted on your school database EVERY single day!
I spoke to him consistently.
It resulted in very tense evenings and conversations.
It resulted in his complete frustration with my interference.
He resented my nagging.
I resented his laziness.
I did not stand over top of my 16 year old every day and demand to see the work.
THAT is NOT my job.
If they don't do the work - fail them.
Cause and Effect.
I guarantee they will learn more in one marking period under those guidelines than an entire year under your "SCHOOL MANAGEMENT DATABASE" being nagged by exhausted parents.