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Mysterious Teaching

Insights behind the perils of being a teacher

Dear parent, Your child will not graduate because...

Dear teacher, My child was not at school yesterday because...she was sick for the 34th time; she had a headache; she had a toothache; she had to babysit her little sibling because I was sick; we had an appointment; we had to go to town to shop; and...and...and...

Dear parent, Your child will not be able to graduate from high school because...all of the above.  You have made so many excuses for absences, and she has missed so much school that she does not qualify for graduation this year.  She will have to re-take all of her course work.  You have trained your child to succeed at failing.  Congratulations.

Do parents not understand how important it is for children to be in school as much as possible?  They miss not one lesson, but 8 lessons a day when they are not present.  I have one student whose mom brings her 30 to 60 minutes late every single day.  She has missed spelling and grammar so many times, I could not pass her in those subjects.  Her mom thinks I should be giving her make-up tests and lessons later in the day when she is tardy like that.  Like I have time to give the test or lesson twice?  Is she crazy?  I have 34 students right now.  Why don't I just give individual tests or lessons to all the students.  That would take the entire day and then I wouldn't be able to do anything else.  Now the Mom is taking her child out of our school and putting her in a charter school next year.  She is unhappy about the treatment of her child.  Imagine that? I wouldn't take the time every single day to reteach her child the lessons she missed because mom was late every day.  My school day was packed tight with required lessons and I was suppose to take time out to reteach something I had already taught.  Well, it didn't work out that I had time to do that.  So sad:(  She will just have to go to the charter next year.

Published Friday, May 18, 2007 1:59 PM by MysteryTeacher
Comments
 

Betty said:

I hope the charter school works out for her.  My son was in a private high school, and they didn't put up with anything.  You either did the work and behaved properly, or they kicked you out.  One summer I tutored kids and had the same problem.  Parents would call at the last minute and give excuses for why their child wasn't coming to the tutorial.  I wasn't smart and didn't ask for the money up front.  I will do it differently if I decide to tutor again.

May 18, 2007 4:55 PM
 

Txteacher said:

I know exactly where both of you are coming from. There is one easy fix, and that is for schools to stop tollerating an endless barage of excuses.

I've had students leave my classroom for what they assume is "greener grass" at the Charter schools. However, the parents usually end up very disappointed because their child fails their too.

Hopefully one day people will understand that the schools are not causing problems with their kids, their kids are causing their own problems. Sometimes the parent can even be part of the problem.

May 19, 2007 5:40 PM
 

Txteacher said:

I know exactly where both of you are coming from. There is one easy fix, and that is for schools to stop tollerating an endless barage of excuses.

I've had students leave my classroom for what they assume is "greener grass" at the Charter schools. However, the parents usually end up very disappointed because their child fails their too.

Hopefully one day people will understand that the schools are not causing problems with their kids, their kids are causing their own problems. Sometimes the parent can even be part of the problem.

May 19, 2007 5:41 PM
 

Txteacher said:

I should have mentioned, bringing an end to "excuse tolerance" can be accomplished, if we could only get administrative support.  

May 19, 2007 5:46 PM
 

Betty said:

You are right. A lot of administrators are parent pleasers and expect their teachers to accept all sorts of excuses.

May 19, 2007 5:57 PM
 

MysteryTeacher said:

I believe they take an admin class on how to appease parents so the district does not get sued.  I can't believe how many principals I have worked for have SAID something about preventing law suits.  Here we teachers are trying our best to educate the children and the admin and parents are doing everything in their power to undermine us.  I thought we were here to educate children not appease the parents.  I wish they would figure this out and let us know what they want so we can do it.  I wouldn't mind just passing everyone without having to worry about test scores.

May 19, 2007 10:31 PM
 

Charter Guy said:

OK teachers...  so I am a charter school principal!  Maybe this child will be checking in at my school next.  Mom will be in for a surprise.  In California, you can't place a child in a charter school without the parent's permission... and at my school you have to have our permission too.  We are a charter.  We make up our own rules.  And one of our rules is that if a child has bad attendance...  we disenroll them.  We don't put up with it.  (BTW... we know we probably aren't compliant with the ed code on this .  But we don't care.  My teachers are extraordinary but not one of them can teach an empty desk.  As long as we are held to a higher standard of accountability, which is fine with us,  we are going to expect everyone around us to do their part too!

May 20, 2007 6:09 PM
 

txteacher said:

I like that Charter Guy, "not one of them can teach an empty desk."

I'm not very familiar with charter schools, I just know that here in Texas they are trying to pass a bill to give parents vouchers to send their kids to charter schools.

I also see many kids leave public school for charter schools, then six months later they are back. I assume it is probably because you guys don't put up with the crap. I like that. I wish public school was that way. Because we do put up with so much crap, we end up cheating many good students out of an enlightning educational experience. I sometimes loose whole periods to correcting discipline problems. But what are we to do? I'm still looking for answers.  

May 20, 2007 9:51 PM
 

txteacher said:

Sorry, Misspelled "Enlightening" and "lose"

May 20, 2007 9:55 PM
 

Betty said:

Students are allowed to get by with so much more in public schools than they are in charter or private schools.  Politicians need to consider this when they are criticizing public education.

May 21, 2007 9:16 AM
 

MysteryTeacher said:

Wow! I stirred up a pot of boiling something.  I feel sorry for principals but I really think they need to get another or a new backbone.  I often wondered if their backbone was removed when they graduated with their admin degree.  That is why I got my MA in Elementary Ed.  I didn't want mine removed.  It is time that the "union" stood up and forced admin to get strong and support teachers.  That poor first year teacher who wasn't supported just made me want to cry.  I remember feeling that way in the beginning.  That is when I got my own backbone and never looked back.  I take care of my own discipline within the classroom if possible.  The only time mine get sent to the office is at recess when I am not there.

Note to administrators:  If you want to be admired by the people, get a darn backbone and show us you support us.

May 21, 2007 4:07 PM
 

Charter Guy said:

Hey Mystery Teacher...its the Charter Guy again.  You should see the x-ray!  Phew!!!  Was I ever relieved.  After I read your last entry I thought maybe-- just because I am a principal -- someone might have taken my backbone out or something.  But nope.  It's there.  But I guess I didn't  need an x-ray anyway.  I could tell because I lead a school that excels in a high poverty neighborhood.  After 13 years as a charter school we must be doing something right.  And you would love this:  we have no union.  My teachers don't want one because they manage their own budget.  They not only are among the highest paid teachers in Soutnern California, they are free to create any path they choose to help their kids achieve academically.  90% Latino, 75% poor, 60% ELL...100% awesome results.  Why?  Because we all have backbones.  We are all innovators.  We're all in it together.  Wanno know what we call our school?

May 22, 2007 1:33 AM
 

MysteryTeacher said:

Charter schools are different.  I will give you that.  My niece teaches in a charter and she has less than half the problems I have because the administration doesn't put up with it.  My public school experience is totally different.  I have had a student throw a DESK across the room at me and the principal  "talked" to him and sent him back to class.  He was even an OUT OF DISTRICT student!  Our district needed the money?  Crap! Do charters have special ed?  How about ED classrooms?  We have it all.  I believe the federal government should provide for their education financially so our schools don't go broke trying to accomodate all these needy kids.

May 22, 2007 10:54 AM
 

Betty said:

Hey, Charter Guy, I wanno know what you call your school.  It sounds awesome.  Maybe you and some of your teachers would like to blog about it.  I know some of us would like to hear how things work when backbones are allowed.  I had a student skip school and get to go on a reward field trip the next day because he had already earned it.  Even the kids complained.  The principal also allowed students to turn in late work when it was over two weeks late.  If the teacher didn't accept it, he made sure she "changed" her mind.

May 22, 2007 3:30 PM
 

Charter Guy said:

Some people don't understand that charter schools are really public schools.  We are funded the same way everyone else is...  based on attendance.  We have special ed.  We have a "moderate to severe" class and RSP.  The charter is based on one mission:  get 90% of our kids to grade level by the end of the year.  By any means necessary.  Remember our demographics?  So many low income and second language learners that we have been told it is impossible to do.  We would have to literally overcome the effects of poverty on learning.  So that's what we are doing.  7 years ago less than 20% were at grade level.  Today it's a little more than 50%.  So we are still on the mission.  After 30 years in education I now know that I know next to nothing about teaching and learning.  I have 40 teachers whose average years of experience is less than 5 years...  they know a lot less than me.  So we are on a journey together.  All we know with 100% certaintly is that what we have always done before does not work.  I LOVE my teachers.  I love their courage and humility and passion.  I love their audacity--  to think that one day soon we will have achieved the mission for our kids.  It is not the "perfect" school for teachers and kids.  But pretty freakin' close.  So we refer to the school as "El Milagro"...  the miracle!

May 23, 2007 12:05 AM
 

Betty said:

I love it!  El Milagro sounds like a wonderful place to work.  Working together as a team seems to be working for you guys.  Are charter schools allowed to have stricter rules about completing work, etc., than regular public schools?

May 23, 2007 7:17 AM
 

txteacher said:

Regarding excuses, I was in our attendance office yesterday to have my own paperwork cleared and noticed a wall of file boxes stacked five high, and seven wide. I asked the attendance person, “what in the world have you got stacked up here?”

“Excuses.” She replied. I looked at the writing on the boxes and they all read, Student absentee excuses.

“Surely theses are not all excuses.”

“I’m afraid they are.”

I was amazed at the number of excuses that a student body of 2000 could come with for missing school. I peered into the open box on top and noticed that one folder as thick as a portfolio. That student couldn’t have been in attendance more than half the year.

May 26, 2007 6:36 AM
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About MysteryTeacher

I am a wild, whacky, weird, wonderful woman and teacher. I am venturing into a previous life by teaching ELL this fall. I use to teach ESL years ago. I am excited, empowered, and employed. I love life.