Monday, April 23, 2007


On Thursday parents were supposed to come to the school and pick up their children's report cards.

Out of an approximate 120 students only 13 parents came to see me. All the teachers were at different tables in the lunchroom and parents could go from one to the other to talk about their child's grade. I have a 90% failure rate in my classes right now so I came prepared. I brought all the grades they had all quarter and all the projects they were supposed to have done.

Most parents that came had students with good grades or at least nice kids. A lot parents knew what to expect already and weren't surprised by the A's or the F's. Some parents were surprised and didn't take it so well.

I had a mother come and yell at me about her daughter's F in my first period class. "Why am I just finding out about this now!" she screamed. I didn't know what to say. "Why haven't you called me!" she asked me. "I have so many students failing." I told her "It would be impossible for me to call all the parents. Why don't I give you my cell phone number, now, so that you can call me?" I suggested. She didn't like this option. "I don't need to call you now!" she screamed "She already has an F!" I asked her what her daughter got last quarter. "An F!" She responded. I didn't fight with her. I just let her yell at me. Her daughter is a sweet girl that is very slow, I always try and get her to do work and give her friendly smacks on top of the head when I see she isn't. I was surprised to see she came from such an aggressive mother, but I realize that the mother probably feels helpless. She probably feels like she doesn't know what to do to help her daughter and wants to blame someone. I can understand that.

Another student's step-mother took another approach. She came with her son to get the report card. Abdul is a jolly, outgoing, distracted, and often annoying student. As easy to like as he is to dislike. He is an amateur charmer and an outright baby when he doesn't get his way. His mother knew his game.

"I want to find out why my son has an F in your class." She came to me, saying. "Well, let's have a look" I said, flipping to his grades. "Well he hasn't done too terribly, but he never finished his project here and that was worth 500 points. She turned toward Abdul who was standing arms length away from her. "Come here." she said through clenched teeth and grabbed him toward her "This lady is telling me that the reason you are failing her class is because you didn't do this project. Why didn't you do this project?" Abdul mumbled something under his breath. She turned to me. "Did he ever ask you for help or tell you that he didn't understand the directions?" She asked me, daring me to answer. I shook my head. Then, in a moment, she had Abdul by the throat. She grabbed his collar and pushed him backward into a lunch table. She was choking him. His eyes started to water.

I was frozen.

"You are going to stay after school and you are going to finish this project to get those points. Then you are going to work twice as hard on the work you have to do now until you get a passing grade in this class. Do you understand me." Abdul nodded. His mother let him go. He sank down onto the table and caught his breath. "He'll improve." She told me and they left.

I don't know if that method will work, but I was glad she came.


Blogger Joe Swanberg said...

Oh man. That's amazing. Scary and amazing.

8:35 PM  

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