Saturday, June 02, 2007

Is It Stress?

Hot Days and Misery

Claire asked if my neck issues could be stress. It certainly contributes. Today I went to the chiropractor in the morning as the problem from yesterday was not quite resolved. I felt good nearly all day until the afternoon.

Then the miserable heat--again over 90 degrees outside and in and my school principal aggravated the muscles in my neck to knot. I was back at the chiro in the evening for more work.

The heat needs no explanation. The principal does.

I have a student who was on both the school baseball and basketball team. As a consequence of many early scheduled games, he missed my last period English class dozens of times. (In class 2 days out of ten at one point.) He fell behind on his work and despite efforts to catch up, never quite did.

Enter student's mother who happens to be a teacher. Of course, from her persepective, her son is an "A" student and a star athtlete, so how could he possibly nearly fail my class? I compromised on the last marking level, allowing him to make up well overdo work. Something got messed up in the guidance office about his adjusted grades along the way and his last report card was still not satisfactory to mom. I called her and assured her it would be fixed. However, since his work was still not up to "A" or "B" level, she was not satisfied. By now, I had made more accomodations to my grading rules and policies than was reasonable.

Enter final marking level. Baseball games again. We were now reading a Shakespeare play. Our young man fell behind again. As a matter of fact, he even stopped coming to me to check on what he was missing in class when he was going to a game. He missed nearly every in class reading, nearly every discussion and wasn't reading any of the play at home on his own. (There is a really good online version with a simple, easy to comprehend. English "translation.") When he did show up to class, we were viewing the parts we had studied on video. So he told his mom all we did in class was watch movies.

Mom showed up at school to talk to the principal. She came armed with a list of grievances against me including a "D" worksheet her son had done. I saw her for a few moments at which time she attacked me for everything and waved the worksheet in my face, telling me I had graded it unfairly. (Of course, her son had only completed half of it.) She also accused me of just showing movies in class, and why weren't we reading any books? (Curriculum consists of short stories and plays.) I left, choosing not to continue being abused by the tirade.

Silence for a day or so. Then I was called to the principal to discuss the matter. I explained all. We called the student in and I handed him a list of the required missing work and he told us he understood what he owed me and ssid he was going to make up the work. But, he said he was still reading the play and was only on Act 2. (We were on Act 5 in class by then.)

A few days of quiet. The student eventually turned in two very badly written pages on a topic covered the previous marking level to make up for a worksheet and a test. Though it was completely inadequate, I gave him credit for it to bring his grade up for that level--several months past.

More quiet. Until today. Principal arrives in my classroom to talk again about student. Mom has called him once more to complain and to tell him I have failed to give her son the list of make up work and why should he be required to do more work than the other kids? (When a student misses class, make up work consists of one page of writing on the class topic. This will give him/her credit for any class discussion or participation grades he/she may have missed. Of course, it will never make up for the missing knowledge or learning.....) I tried to explain my policy, but Principal had his own solution. I must make up a folder with all the missing work assignments in it. He would come back during the last period of the day so he, student and I could again go over the requirements. (Fourth time, at this point....I have now given the student the list of required assignments three prior times --he asked me for a new copy of them yesterday himself.)

I spent a good amount of time making up the folder. I also spent time making up two more copies of the folder and copies of my class policy--handed out in September, sent home, signed by student and parent, including this student and mom--listing all my rules including the rules about make up work--one page of writing.

Last period came and went. The principal did not show up. I did not give the student the packet. I am not a total idiot. I need a witness. After school, I droppe in on the principal who had no time to talk to me because he was on the phone. I waved the folder. He said, "Did you give it to student?" "No," said I, "not without a witness." "Oh," said he, "Sorry I couldn't come. Give it to my secretary."

OK. I did. I told her to make sure he didn't lose it, as he often does lose things.

I will not be in school on Monday. Principal had assured mother that this would be taken care of today. She told him she would call again on Monday.

Can you picture her house? Student comes home with no packet of work. No one has spoken to him about this today. He will tell mom, and this time it will be the truth. Mom will call principal. Let him explain.

Meanwhile, aside from his required book report, student has not even handed in the work assignments he had had since the baseball season was over. One worksheet was assigned this week, three the week before. Nothing.

Ah, yes. He is an "A" student.

Way too overheated and hot to ride again. It is supposed to be better tomorrow. The horses were hanging out in the stalls with their fans blowing on them.

They are definitely "A" students.


  1. cure for student's mom; give HER the work packet in front of a witness and have her sign for it (again).

    and have a word with baseball coach. I gather a lot of schools have a policy that people only keep their place on the team if they also keep up their studies?

  2. Mom has chosen to deal with principal. Let him deal with her.