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*
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.
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…