February 4, 2009

Accepting Less than Perfect

I normally don't use my blog to complain about issues at school, but I'm going to make an exception today. Next week, you see, is the end of the trimester, so we're now getting e-mails (some of them not very nice, I might add) from parents concerned about their children's grades. I can't help but feel annoyed when a parent e-mails me about their child's missing assignment from December at the end of February. Why weren't they concerned two months ago? And how can they be mad at me for not accepting the assignments now?

I had one parent e-mail this week about missing target sheets. Each day, I write a "Target" on the chalkboard, which students record on their sheet. This target is our daily learning goal, and the sheets are used to help students be self-reflective. At the end of the period, students have to answer, "Did I meet today's target?" It's meant to help them self-monitor their learning and to know when they need additional help. At the end of the week, students take their target sheets home to show their parents what we've done in class. So, what good does it do a child to complete a target sheet from two months ago? None! Why is that so difficult to understand?

I find it irritating that so many parents seem to be motivated (even more than their children) by grades. In my district, it seems that anything less than a B is completely unacceptable (in many families, the expectation is straight A's). I've seen students break into tears over B's and C's for fear that their parents will disapprove. I want to tell these parents about the damage they're doing to their children when they chastise them for anything less than perfect. When we expect perfection from our children, we are not leaving any room for growth. And isn't that what school is all about?

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