My Response to Lazy Students

This was sent home to parents on Wednesday night.  I’m not going to mess around with this; my students’ parents will know what’s going on in my classroom and if they don’t, it’s because they’re just not paying attention.

*Chili’s note; I’ve removed some information that would divulge my super-secret real identity.  Everything else is exactly as I sent it*

Dear Parents:

I am writing to let you know about what’s been happening in our English I/II class at CHS.

For the last several weeks, we’ve been reading The Book Thief as a group.  Assignments for readings have been posted to the class’s Ning site (ning address here) on a regular basis, and students have been asked to participate in discussions and to craft demonstrations that prove they are not only reading the material, but understanding it as well.

What I am discovering is that an unacceptable number students simply aren’t doing the reading and, as a consequence, can’t complete the assignments.  I noticed early on that four or five students in the class were carrying the conversations we were having about the book, and a reading comprehension quiz that I gave – which asked the students merely to relate plot – was a spectacular failure pretty much across the board.

When we returned to class after the days we missed due to the lack of heat, I asked the students to do their morning write about what they could do to make the class more engaging and effective.  Following their writing, I began a discussion of the culture we’ve got in the classroom and asked students what they could do to improve it.  Nearly to a student, the message I got was that the material was manageable and that the format of the class was effective for them, but that they just weren’t putting in the effort necessary to do their part of the teacher-student equation.  I was hopeful that our conversation would have sparked a renewed effort on the students’ part, but another reading comprehension quiz this morning revealed that all but two of the students hadn’t read to the page I had assigned.

Please be aware that I am working very hard to create a culture of community and cooperation in the classroom; I am invested in my students and I want them to succeed.  I can only meet the student halfway, however; your child will get out of this class only as much as he or she chooses to put into it.  I am encouraging your child to take responsibility for and ownership of his or her own education.

I am inviting you to join me in helping your student succeed.  Please touch base with your child regularly to make sure that reading and homework are getting done.  Please check the class’s website to make sure that you’re aware of the assignments and that your child understands exactly what is expected.  Finally, I want you to feel free to contact me any time if you have any questions, concerns, or problems; I make it a policy to be available to both my students and their parents as much as I can possibly be.  You can contact me at (my school email address).  I’m very good about responding to email.  If you would prefer a phone call or a face-to-face meeting, I would be more than happy to accommodate you.

Warmly,

Mrs. Chili

So far, only one parent has responded, and that parent was short, sweet, and to the point:

Nice letter.  Kudos.  -Candace

If any others come back at me, I’ll let you know what the general consensus is.  My hope is that most parents will be supportive and recognize that there’s only so much proverbial leading to water that I can do.  We shall see…

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10 Comments

Filed under concerns, failure, frustrations, General Griping, I love my job, parental units, self-analysis, the good ones, Yikes!

10 responses to “My Response to Lazy Students

  1. sphyrnatude

    A somewhat brutal method I’ve dealt with when reading assignments are regularly skipped is make it clear that if the kids haven’t read the assignment, we’ll read it in class. Out loud. One at a time. And after they’ve read their portion, they’ll explain what happened, its significance, and how it relates to the story so far.
    Haven’t found a student yet that prefers reading out loud in front of the class to reading at home….

  2. As a parent, I am always receptive to information the teacher sends home; and, I also do not assume my kid is one of the “good” ones. If 90% of the class isn’t making a proper effort, chances are mine is one of those.

    I can’t tell you how many parents read the letters, and say, “I don’t have time to ride my kid; that’s not my problem. Besides, my kid is not one of the problem ones.”

    I also jump for joy over the teachers that post to their websites regularly. As a parent, all I really need is important dates. Then I can gently nudge at home. How hard is that?

    We had an interesting parent/teacher conference yesterday about our son. It really demonstrated how parents and teachers view the same kid completely DIFFERENTLY! Too long for a comment, but I’ll post about it soon.

  3. magicalmysticalteacher

    The hardest part about sending out a letter like this has got to be the waiting for responses from parents…

  4. I despise that attitude in students. I think that’s why I’m an Honors teacher – I can handle the super high-pressure, high-stress kids needing constant hand-holding because they’re going to smother themselves with a pillow if they don’t get into Harvard, but I can’t handle kids who just don’t care enough to do the basic work.

  5. Way to have the courage to send that home. I think you sound reasonable but still as though you have high expectations for the students. I really like that you urge parents to help, but don’t act like it’s their job to make sure the work is done.

    Also, I loved The Book Thief. If the kids bothered to read any of it, I doubt they’d be able to put it down.

  6. Rowan

    Oh yes, the apathy, sigh. In the culture of the parents of our students the teacher is the only one to do the teaching. It’s our job! The parents evidently only have to give birth.
    I created a bilingual discipline letter and had it made up in triplicate (at my cost) that I have the child sign, then take home for a parent signature and return. If it is not returned I still have two copies…one for the VPs file and one for mine.
    If you want a copy emailed, let me know and I’ll send it either in the body or as an attachment.
    Keep the chin up…smile…make them wonder just what’s going on.
    Enjoy all your blogs! Thanks.

  7. Nancy

    What if there are other reasons that the students in your classes are not doing the reading? Once I became a parent of a kid who had other reasons for not doing his work, it totally changed my view as a teacher. Kids are rarely motivated by the things that motivate you.

  8. Nancy, I appreciate that there may be extenuating factors of which I am not aware. When I’m made aware of them, I make appropriate allowances for them. My contention, however, is that as long as the work I am giving is reasonable and attainable, I should have every expectation that it gets done. I’m not interested in entertaining excuses from students who haven’t done the reading when a quick check of facebook reveals that they’re bragging about all the things they’re doing BESIDES their schoolwork, then they whine to me that they’re not given enough time.

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