Thursday, January 27, 2011

An email with humility and sincerity

Dear Parent of T, I hope your day went well.

Here's an update on what I did for T today:

T came in to see me from around 3-4pm today. She was able to copy the original notes from sections 5.1 to 5.2. Unfortunately, another student had borrowed my 5.3 notes and have not returned them yet, so T did not copy those original notes. However, I did give her an impromptu lesson on 5.3 without the notes anyway.

Then, T took a different, abridged version of the 5.1-5.3 quiz. She was able to get a 100% on it. I put it in the grade book and it does not seem to affect her overall grade significantly - it is a B+, the same as before the retake today.

I would also like to reiterate that re-teaching happens in-class. If students would like more individual attention, they need to see me during my drop-in tutoring hours. I did give the quiz to T right after she returned: it would have been unwise to give her instruction on the quiz material while the rest of the class were sitting in the same room, taking the same quiz. That is why I instructed T to try the quiz anyway: test taking is also a method of learning, and she would be doing the same thing her fellow classmates were doing. I also told her to get a copy of the notes, either from a fellow classmate or from me after school, and to take home the 5.1-5.3 quiz for her re-take. The quiz that I had was the only quiz in my possession in her file, so I assumed she had turned in her re-take. If it is still the first quiz, as you believe it is, then I suppose T never turned in the re-take - of which I am certain I gave her. She was not the only student who was absent, and thus missed the quiz, so I had plenty on hand for them. I do toss out the old quizzes in order to keep the paperwork under control. Perhaps I should not do that anymore.

T never showed up during my tutoring hours to get the notes, so I assumed she was able to find a friend to copy the notes from. This, I also admit, was my fault. I do need to do more binder checks with all students in order to keep them accountable for their note-taking. T was doing well with in-class activities (albeit a little distracted, which is normal after coming back from such a big trip) so I decided to push forward. It is very difficult for students to catch up, as well as keep up with the current material, after a long absence. Pushing forward together with the whole class and doing review daily was a better choice, in my opinion, than holding T back because she had missed some material. I hope you understand, even if you don't agree with, my methods.

I feel the need to lay out my case, and hold that I did everything in my power to help T bridge the gap from her absences, even before today. I do not like the fact that I can't shake off the feeling that T's retake today felt unfair and unjust - not to T, but to her classmates. Although it's probably not your intention, I do not like how this situation feels as if I was being attacked for not doing my job. I am generally flexible with second, and third, and fourth chances. I am also flexible with giving extra time to students to turn in missed work. I do not, and will never, intend to disregard student needs and I hope you do not think I disregarded T, or her learning. I do my best with the time and resources that I have, both of which are limited in supply, so at some point there has to be an end.

I know you may not agree with me, but I still hope that this end is satisfying to you. I have really learned a lot from this event.

With humble regards and sincerity,

This Child Left Behind

**I've already pressed the send button, but on hindsight, it might have been better to swing this by my principal, or dept. chair first. whoops. oh well.

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