Thursday, January 19, 2012

I am worried about my grade

The wonderful Ms. M recently posted the above video on Facebook, and we've all been laughing about it and quoting it this whole week. It also makes us cringe a bit, because it is just so spot-on (right down to the detail of not having had a chance to pee all day). As it is the end of the semester right now, this is also quite timely.

I try my best to help my students, but I refuse to hold their hands, and that is what a lot of them seem to expect. I constantly get kids (often the same ones, again and again) asking me during class what their grade is. I keep having to tell them to either email me, see me after school, or even just look online where the damn things are posted, because I don't talk grades during class. It's just too disruptive. What I also don't understand is how clueless they can be about where they stand. There is no reason a student should be so shocked and angry, as some of them are, when they find out they are failing. I told them from the beginning that the people who fail my class are those who either don't do any work or don't turn in a lot of it. So I tell these kids that they're missing a lot of homework, they failed a test, did poorly on an essay, etc., and they still appear totally mystified, as though it is MY fault, that I am the one who allowed this to happen.

These students tell me that they are very concerned about their grades, and yet they are unwilling to take on the responsibility needed to improve said grades. One student has continually told me that he doesn't understand why he's doing so poorly and that he really wants to succeed, but his recent research paper pretty much sums up his shortcomings: most of his information came from Wikipedia (which I stressed--even in writing!--was NOT an option), and he didn't come for a writing conference, which I basically begged them all to come for on multiple occasions. Another student, who is quite smart but only pulling a D this term, emailed me at the beginning of the week about his grade. When I responded, he then asked if there was anything he could do to improve it before the term closed. I refrained from the temptation to suggest inventing a time machine.

Some of my students have been learning their lesson about responsibility, which is rewarding to see. They realize their mistakes, and are asking for help in a productive manner. But I am still just so frustrated about those who choose the angry response, who view me as someone standing in their way of success. I know it's not my fault, that I've tried to reach out to help them and to make them understand the ingredients for success, but that doesn't keep me from wanting to act like a teenage boy by punching a locker. In some twisted way, I still feel like I've failed a little bit. At the same time, though, I know that the answer is not to back down and let them get away with being lazy and turning in substandard work. I'm trying to prepare them for the big test of life, and babying them isn't going to help me accomplish that goal. I hate it when they hate me, but I suppose that's just part of the job sometimes.

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