it’s been a rough 24 hours. If any of you are connected to me on Facebook, you may have seen me comment that I was sad last night, and am slowly crawling out of it. I had an encounter of the less than loving kind with one of my fellow homeschooling families. Actually, it’s been going on for quite a while. You know homeschooling families aren’t known for being “submissive” … I mean, homeschooling by nature is a rebellious act. Refusing to go with the status quo, the “normality” of government schools. Blah, blah, blah …
I teach a yearbook class at our homeschool co-op. It’s my first year and I’d be lying if I said I had it all figured out and knew exactly what I was doing. I’m learning along with the kids and am reservedly optimistic that we will publish a decent yearbook by the end of this year. The class is a high school elective credit, and as such, I have high standards for behavior, specific expectations for work to be done in a timely manner, and of a high school level quality. It’s not a “blow off” class, even though it’s not chemistry or Algebra II.
I started with twelve students at the beginning of the year. Three dropped by the end of the first four weeks after I had a “come to Jesus meeting” with them regarding their behavior and commitment to the class. We all parted on good terms, but it was quite obvious that they were not serious about the class, and lacking the commitment, they needed to go.
We continued on, myself and my nine remaining students. But one of them … it will take forever to type out everything that happened. She’s a bright girl. Talented. An asset to any class. BUT …
As of 10:30 last night, she ceased to be a member of my class. Her mother sent me an email saying she and her husband were withdrawing the girl because of “personal conflicts” … I won’t go into everything that happened leading up to the “straw,” but here’ the gist of it:
My students have not taken homework deadlines seriously. Each week, I give them assignments and each week some of them forget their homework, or completely forget to do it. The co-op policy is that late or incomplete high school level work is given a zero. Of course, high school level teachers can establish their own policies. My policy (typed into a class guidelines contract each student signed) states that late work will receive an automatic 10 point deduction before being graded. Because so many of my students were struggling, I decided to extend “amnesty and grace” to them one last time. During our last class in September, I told them that I would accept any and ALL late work without penalty on October 1st. BUT after October 1st, anything that had not been turned in would receive a zero.
I emailed reminders to the group and their parents.
I emailed reminders to individual students.
And on October 1st, the majority of them turned in their late work and I graded it without penalty. I will say that some of them still overlooked assignments and for those, they did receive zeroes.
The young lady I refer to above did not come to class that day. She did however manage to bring me her county fair photo entries that evening at church – I had offered to deliver any entries my students had if they were unable to get to the fairgrounds during the submission period. But she did NOT bring me her homework that had been due earlier in the day. After all the reminders that I had given her, I did not feel so inclined to remind her YET AGAIN that her work was due that day.
She was a little startled a week later when I refused to accept it.
Fifteen minutes into class, her mother (who also teaches at the co-op) came to the door and called her from class. For whatever reason, she did not return to class that day and I had to send her books with someone else, since she had left them behind. No communication, no explanation as for her absence on the 1st or for leaving class on the 8th.
A few days later, I sent out my usual reminders to the students regarding assignments, etc. And I received an email from this young lady claiming she was UNABLE to get her work that day. That just sent me over the edge.
I explained in a very calmly worded email that I took issue with her use of the word “unable,” since I knew that she was still in the building during class and was perfectly capable of returning to class and getting whatever work she needed. I told her that I would email her the attachments of the assignments and that I expected her to be in class tomorrow with her work done.
Last night her mother withdrew her from the class. And today I learned from the director of our co-op that she had called her complaining that I wouldn’t accept the late work even though the “contract” said that I would take late work with a 10 point deduction. The director told her that she needed to contact me to discuss it. She never did. She told her that she would be withdrawing the girl from the class. The director encouraged her to pray about it and discuss it with her husband before making a decision and she said, “No, I am withdrawing her from the class.”
That happened two weeks ago. But she waited until last night. And never talked to me regarding the “contract” issue. If she had contacted me I could have explained to her that under normal circumstances that was, indeed, my policy. But several of the kids were missing SEVERAL assignments and I was trying to give them the best opportunity to start with a clean slate, to start fresh.
Anyway, it just irks me that this person thinks I was “unfair” to her sweet baby, when I was bending over backwards to make sure all the kids got their work done and didn’t lose any points.
It’s going to be a real lesson in character growth, as we attend the same church as this family and it is a SMALL fellowship. Meaning there’s nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide … except to God.
Hmmm … now there’s an idea.