This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Friday, May 28, 2010

I'm not mad

I thought long and hard about what to do about Bear passing English undeservingly. I decided that:

  • I didn't really want Bear held back or to have to repeat a class. He's already older than most students. He's already at great risk for dropping out.
  • If he failed, it's not like he'll attend Summer school anyway (he refuses and if we make him there are no consequences for failing - he probably wouldn't be allowed to fail anyway). Mainly though the point is that there are no special ed Summer English classes, and he wouldn't be supervised well enough if there were.
  • Bear probably didn't miss much. He's in special ed, and most likely isn't going to college. You can lead a Bear to water, but you can't make him think.
  • The teacher is a nice woman who was probably just doing her job - which is - pass them.
  • Bear had already learned the lesson that he would not be allowed to fail, so this was just another event, not a deciding issue.
  • It's really too late now even if there were a point to getting his grade changed.

So I decided to let it go. I did send her a letter:

Hi [Ms. S],

I have to admit I’m not very happy about Bear learning that no matter what, he will pass. I realize that he can probably do the work and is just choosing not to. Of course it is not really an option for him to attend Summer school. This is just so frustrating.


I heard you are not going to be his teacher next year after all? Are you staying at [Bear's high school]? Will you be teaching English I?

Thanks,
Mary

Here was her response:

Mrs. [themom],

Trust me when I say, that I understand your frustrations, because it is as equally frustrating for us, it seems as if admin/district forces us to give grades sometimes. I feel we (as the teachers) are caught between a rock and a hard place. I'm sure you can relate that when we were in school, you had to do the work in order to pass, that doesn't seem to be the case anymore. I invest lots of time planning and preparing for lessons only to have kids blow it off; and admin say they can turn it in when ever they want and receive a 50. Or they tell us, be creative, make -it work, try your hardest to see that they pass. It's extremely frustrating and I feel we are in many ways doing our students a disservice for when they get out of high school. I get very
upset that I have to always give credit when sometimes credit is not due. I'm
not speaking in terms of Bear, it's a general statement. I haven't shared these feelign with anyone this year, but I do want you to realize I understand how you feel, so I'm sharing this with you on a personal note only. Also know, that I did not give Bear credit for anything he didn't deserve, he did have to do work in order to receive points. It was not enough to pass, and he does understand why he is not passing this six weeks.

I have applied to other districts. It's no secret that I am currently looking to obtain a job somewhere else by choice; and that I plan to do a lot of soul searching over the next few weeks to see if I even want to continue teaching at all. Don't get me wrong, I love the students. It's the work load and policies of Sped that is burning me out. If I do come back next year I'm teaching Applied English II and Study Skills, with some English II inclusion classes.

Thanks for being supportive and keeping such close tabs on Bear and his progress at school. He may not appreciate or understand it now, but he will hopefully later on in his adulthood.

Take care and have a great summer!

-[Ms. S]

I think I'm going to write her something supportive back and let it go.

9 comments:

GB's Mom said...

I don't know if it makes a difference, but I think you let a real name slip in there.

You are right- holding him back is not a good answer either. The whole system needs to be overhauled.

Diana said...

You know, sometimes when it comes right down to it, the right thing to do is just let it go. Sometimes we just have to work through our own anger and frustration before we can see things from another person's perspective. It sounds like the teacher is just as frustrated.

Though, I do still think there is wisdom in discussing the issue, more as a global, not emotionally charged, "this system stinks" issue with the district superintendant and the person in charge of special ed.

marythemom said...

GB's Mom - thanks!! I caught that later when I went back to edit something else, but if I hadn't gone back...

Focus on your breathing. Deep breath slowly in... and out. In... and out. You are getting sleepy. You are now completely relaxed. You will now completely forget what you read.

*snap*

Mary

Jeri said...

I've spent the last month working for a center out of the local burnt orange university that is working on programs to reduce educational failure. In layman's terms: they've taken some language arts, science and history concepts...created intervention strategies, trained the teachers to implement them and completed pre and post test. We were not told which middle schools were "control" schools (no intervention at all) and which were using the interventions. I've seen kids who were at least sixteen in a seventh grade class! They knew they were too old to be there and the other kids did too. What to do? What to do? I know, I'll divert everyone's attention by being a jerk and maybe they won't realize how much I don't know. Geez. Retention at that level does not work. There were guys with tattoos and soul patches, beards (not to mention the stupid baggy a$$ pants and the bling hanging in their ear). Add little freaking out eleven year olds that are walking the halls with these men. Now that school is out....now that I'm officially unemployed again, I'll call you next week. We can commiserate about our kids...hmmm, maybe I'll bring out an adult beverage and we can shoot...the breeze.

ps Don't delete that email. Hang onto it, you may need it someday once teacher has gone on to another district.

marythemom said...

Jeri,

Cool! Looking forward to it (and not just because of the beverages). I missed you on the Katharine Leslie trip.

Mary

Jennie said...

oh good, this is very reasonable! I like that his teacher was so honest with you!

Purplewalls said...

Clap, clap, clap, clap. Everyone acted like a grown-up. Calmer heads prevailed.

Boo, hiss... the system sucks.

I like what Jennie said in response to the original email from the teacher.

FosterAbba said...

Although this doesn't help your individual situation one bit, I think the teacher's response is really quite illuminating.

I think all the schools are dumbing down their curriculum so that the majority of kids pass. Combine that with grade inflation, and you get an entire generation coming out of school with a sense that their achievement is an entitlement, and not based on how hard they work.

It's wrong. A high school diploma should be worth something. It's not, anymore.

marythemom said...

Foster Abba - Amen!

Mary