Proof That I am NOT a Heartless Bitch of a Teacher

I have a student who, as a result of a lot of extenuating circumstances in her life, has had significant trouble keeping up with the assignments in our composition class.

She came to me about two weeks ago – right around progress report time – to tell me that she was aware that she was in trouble but that she thought she could pull herself out of it. She was up-front and honest about her shortcomings and was COMPLETELY accepting of her responsibilities. She wasn’t asking me to let her off easy – she’s entirely willing to do anything I ask her to do to pass the class. It was refreshing to deal with her, and I’m more than happy to work with students like her:

Dear Jeanne:

I know I said we could talk today after class, and I’m sorry that my
meeting with my department head took so much longer than I thought it
would (I hoped that you’d still be in the room when I got back, but
totally understand why you weren’t).

How would you like to handle finishing this course? The way I see it,
we have two options: we can either submit a request for an
“incomplete,” which will give you an extension for finishing the work,
or you can jam on the assignments and finish them by the last official
day of class (which, if I’m not mistaken, is the 22nd, but I’m not sure
I’ll make us meet that day) and not have to worry about it beyond that.
Which would you prefer?

I’m thinking that what I want to give you to do will be completely
manageable for you in the time we have left, but that’s me assuming
that you don’t have a ton of other work to do for the rest of the
classes in your schedule. I have the utmost confidence in your writing
skills, and would pass you as it stands now if it weren’t for the fact
that you’ve missed quite a few assignments. The work I’ll give you
will likely just be the assignments that you haven’t completed – along
with a few quick-writes – certainly nothing overly intense or taxing.

Let me know how you want to handle it – whatever is best for you is
what I want, too. I’m invested in seeing you succeed.

Warmly,

-Mrs. Chili

I have every confidence that she’s going to do just fine, and I’ll be able to take one F off of my grade book.

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2 Comments

Filed under Teaching

2 responses to “Proof That I am NOT a Heartless Bitch of a Teacher

  1. When students come to me requesting time, I usually ask them what they think they need, then set that (or the nearest practical date to it) as the deadline. As you said, they know what they have going on in other classes. They’ve also shown that they’re capable of acting responsibly in their own best interest, so I can trust that the date they give me is reasonable. You’ve given Jeanne the opening to tell you what she needs. If she’s conscientious enough to come to you proactively about this and own her actions, my bet is she’ll come through. If she does, make sure you commend her for her actions. That sort of behaviour should be sung from the mountain tops as being righteous and good.

  2. Pingback: Help a Girl Out « A Teacher’s Education

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