Hott Mess Hawaii

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Aug 25 2008

I never liked writing until…

I had my first chance to be the bad guy last week.  Progress reports came out. And when you are just about a month in school, and you figure in a solid week of NWEA diagnostic testing, that comes out to about 5 assignments, 2 of which  were homework.  And if students decided not to turn in homework, those zeros pretty much kill you.  Read: I had a lot a students who always got A’s in elementary school for the first time in their life being held accountable to strict homework policies, and me having to call home about bad grades due to missing work.

I don’t like being the bad guy.  Especially when some of your best students fall to the sixth grade policy of no credit for late assignments.  One mom wrote a note explaining why she didnt think it was fair that late credit not be accepted.  Although I know that all the students and parents sign a contract saying they understand the late hmwk policy rules, her words still hurt – and a parent not on your side is a less than stellar situation.  But this same student came up to me as she handed in her revised draft and commented:

I just wanted to let you know that I never liked writing until this year.  Now I do.  I just thought you should know.

Thank you student.  I needed to hear that in the worst way.  God knows I’m not perfect and seriosly only like one lesson plan ahead of my kids, but if I made this child think she was a good writer, then I’ll take it.  I’ll more than take it.  She probably has no idea how valuable that comment was to me…I certainly never analyzed anything I said to a teacher.  As far as I was concerned, teachers were not real people…

…I also underestimated how much I may have affected teachers.  I know I can’t be the only one that feels for her students when they reading their raw, honest writing and feel their insecurities.  Middle school in a stable enviroment is hard enough.  My military kids bounce around, many of them write about making and losing friends and being lonely…add that to deployment anxiety, its rough going.

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