Saturday, September 11, 2010


I'm finding myself uber-stressed right now during halftime of the tied-up UO vs. Tennessee game. Sheesh! I'd forgotten this part of college football. So, as a stress relief, I'll vent about the most frustrating assignment we saw from school this week.

On the second day of school, Brayden brought home some homework for me. I've come to expect that; usually there are plenty of "signatures required" mixed with the occasional "Tell Me About Your Child" questionnaires. This one was different, though. This particular "assignment" followed a two page syllabus describing Brayden's social studies teacher's expectations. Just so you know, those two pages of information were typed in about a size 6 font. Then, came my assignment, which I will share with you as was presented on the sheet:

"Parents/guardians: Please read and complete the reverse after reviewing the syllabus. Thanks most kindly for taking the time to review the course syllabus. Your attention to your student's education is very much appreciated." [On that side of the sheet we, along with our student, were supposed to sign and date that we'd read the information]

-Ok, I get it so far - and applaud the nice phrasing and request we review everything together. As a former 6th grade teacher, nothing irritated me more than parents trying to enable their children by not letting them "grow up" and face head-on the choices they made. Giving everyone clear parameters, and making sure both parents and students understand them is certainly a very good prevention of this.......

HOWEVER, it was the "reverse" part of this page that I found......well, that's where the phrase, SERIOUSLY?????!!!!! comes in!

On the reverse side, here's what we found:

"Please ask a parent or guardian to answer the following questions - with your help, of course [reference to student]

1. Write down the four things every assignment should have to receive credit.

2. What happens if your friend copies one or two answers on a small, pointless assignment, because she spent the entire night baking cookies for sick children?

3. If you have a 75% average, and you do like a million extra credit things, what could your grade go up to?

4. Can you have healthy snacks- well, pretty healthy snacks, anyway - in class if you don't make a mess?

5. Could being shy negatively affect your grade? How?

6. According to they syllabus, do you need to bring your textbook to every class?

7. When shouldn't you ask Mr. "X" a grade question?

8. If you are absent, who could you talk to before Mr. "X"?

9. Is it possible to be marked tardy even if you're in the classroom?

10. How long is a late assignment still worth something?

11. List up to three facts about an ancient civilization that you already know?"

CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT? These were questions that the parent/guardian was expected to answer? What business does this teacher have in knowing what I already know about ancient civilizations? And to top that off - many of these questions were "trick questions" - (i.e. there's no reference to a textbook in the syllabus, but all necessary materials are supposed to be brought to class).

If the directions at the top had been worded even slightly different - such as: "Students, please answer the following questions - I encourage you to ask your parents for help as needed....." But, no, that's not how it was phrased. I couldn't believe the audacity - and for the record, it took me about 20 minutes to fill it all out (though I have to blame part of that time lapse for just being plain ol' mad) ....And let me tell you, it took every bit of self control in me to not give some very colorful answers in response - however, I'm not quite ready to sabotage my son's start to middle school). I did answer the last question a little pointedly in reference to our basis of ancient civilization education coming from the Bible....but besides that, I think I nailed his answers.

I hope I did anyway. Because, I'll tell you what, if we get that assignment back with anything less than a 100%....well, it's not gonna be pretty.


sara said...

just wondering how old this teacher is?

School is changing so much....and not always for the better.

I am proud of you for holding back on the colorful responses...not sure I would have had that much self control!! :)

stephietoo said...

Although some of the questions have me shaking my head in disbelief, I have to admit that I do understand why the teacher is requesting that the parents answer the questions with the help of the students. They want to make sure that the parents understand the 'rules' just as well as the students do.

More times than not though, I get the phone call from the parent not understanding how their child could have been penalized for something when they were never told about said something- only for me to have to kindly point out that they signed the statement at the beginning of the year saying that they read and understood the student/parent handbook, and that on page X is where it says that you must do 'X, Y, and or Z'.

Now, that is at the district-level, of course, but I am sure it is the same kind of logic at the classroom-/school-level.

However, with that said, some of those questions were worded more for a 6th grader and not a parent, and you are right- they should have asked the students to answer the questions with the help of the parents- or- worded them more for a parent/adult.....

Just my two cents. But, then again, I work for a totally different district than yours.

Love you guys and missed seeing you this weekend. I did get to spend the day with my sister, brother-in-law, Travis (of course), and Abby and Hannah, yesterday. It was wonderful!

Clay Boggess said...

I agree. A little odd. By simply changing the question around a little to something like "Parents and students please feel free to work together to answer the following questions" might have received a more favorable reaction from parents.

Anonymous said...

Just the fact you got that far and answered all the questions (and probably in detail) said a lot to the teacher about you. You're an involved, intelligent, engaged parent and your student will probably succeed in the class. I can only imagine the parents who didn't bother to answer or did the least they could get away with. The fact that you didn't like being put to the wall with that quiz says to me that you're not the parent that quiz was made was a wake up call and accountability test for the parents who don't pay any attention at all!

So far Tyler's doing well in 6th grade too. And with the Pinnacle online grading thing parents these days are running out of excuses for not knowing how their kids are doing.