Saturday, November 15, 2008

What Would Mean Teacher Do?

A new student presented me with a dilemma yesterday. I think I made the right choice, specifically, I just said NO. Then I got to second-guessing myself. Maybe I should have been more lenient. I am incommunicado with my teaching buddy, Mabel, over the weekend. My email takes too long to load on the stone-age dial-up that services me here in Hillmomba, and to call her would mean that I could not get off the phone in less than an hour, because, well, Mabel and I both love to talk, and we don't have time at school, what with all the WORK they expect us to do for our paycheck these days.

So my thoughts turned to Mean Teacher, who is lounging about at home, eating bon bons and watching The View and napping every couple of hours, what with being home on maternity leave with her newborn. You heard me, Meanie! I know you're lolling around with nothing to keep you busy. So I am appointing you Chief Educational Consultant to Hillmomba. The position pays nothing but glory and recognition. I hope you're OK with that.

We got a new student yesterday. She arrived at my door 2nd hour, I checked her schedule, found her a place on the seating chart, and told her I would find a book when I could get a master key, because I'm fresh out of books, what with four new students since last week. I asked who had the same 4th hour class as I had seen on her schedule, and we told her she had 3rd lunch shift. When class ended, I even told her as she left, "You go to your government class, then straight to your elective class, then to lunch." She nodded.

During 3rd hour, a girl inquired about the new girl's schedule. "I know her. She's going to sit with me at lunch." I pointed out that the new girl had a different lunch shift. "Oh. Then we're NEVER going to see each other." I didn't think much of it. I don't really care about the kids' social lives unless they are putting me on a 'hit list' or something.

At the lunch table, we were chatting away about people who weren't there, when I spied the new girl sitting one table away. I told the Principal, "That new girl is supposed to be in TheParkingSpaceStealer's class right now. I saw her schedule. I told her she had 3rd lunch." He called her over, and explained that she should be in class now, to dump her tray and go, and that he would make sure she got another tray 3rd lunch. She said, "But they told me I had 1st lunch." He asked who, and she hemmed and hawed and said, "The office." Principal explained that most freshmen DO have 1st lunch, and the office must not have looked at her schedule. The New Student said, "Well, I'll just finish lunch and then go to class after 1st lunch." This did not set well with Principal. Seeing my opening, I added, "You know that I told you to eat 3rd lunch. We even asked that other student in your 4th hour, and he told you, too. You knew you were supposed to eat 3rd lunch." Principal told her again, "Go dump your tray and go to class." She said, "Should I go to the office? Because some girl just came in and said to go to the office when I was done eating." Principal said, "Probably to tell you that you belong in class right now. Go to class." New Student went back to the table where she was sitting with that friend who was never going to see her. She sat down and started chatting. Principal was not pleased. He called her back over. "I told you to dump your tray and go to class. I am the Principal. I expect you to do it. Right now." She said, "I didn't get a tray." He said, "Get to class."

You would think right there that New Student would have gotten the message not to eff around at this place. But the plot thickens. After lunch, I stopped by my mailbox and found the transfer grades for New Student. Zero. I caught the counselor's secretary on her way down the hall. "Are you sure this is right? All the grades are 'zero'. "Well, she has not been to school in a month. She left her last school, and a month passed before she enrolled here. So she has not attended any school during 2nd quarter, and her grade is zero." OK. That's a new one.

But it gets better! During 5th hour, New Student shows up to ask if I can give her a book and 3 weeks of assignments. Granted, my room was a bit loud, as we were doing an activity called Card Flicking Penny Cup, a sample science project. I told her to come back at the end of 6th hour, and I could give her a book, but I didn't have any papers run off. I thought she was telling me that she was going to be gone for 3 weeks.

During the first part of my planning period, I got to thinking. New Student had said that she wanted to bring up her grade. Surely she wasn't asking for MAKE-UP work from time before she enrolled in school! I went to get the master key from Principal, and mentioned the exchange to him. He snorted. "She hasn't even attended school for a month. She's not getting extra work."

Ten minutes before the end of 6th hour, here came New Student. I gave her a book. I told her what chapter we were starting on Monday. She said, "But what about work from the last 3 weeks?" I told her that she wasn't here then. She said that I had said I would give it to her. "I misunderstood. I thought you were going to be gone for 3 weeks." New Student said, "Oh, no. I haven't been in school for the last 3 weeks, and I don't want to fail, so I want the make-up work." I told her I could not give her work for time before she came to this school. She said, "Well, all my other teachers are. They have that after-school program where you can make up work, and I'm not sure I can get transportation, but I might go to that, and they gave me the work so I can bring my grade up and not fail." I told her that was between her and her other teachers, but I didn't think it was school policy to give work for time before you were enrolled. She was not a happy camper when I finally got rid of her.

She's got gumption, that one. But I'll be goshdarned if I'm going to look up 3 weeks worth of assignments, find copies of them, grade them when she decides to turn them in, and try to enter them in the computer for a time she was not enrolled, so she can get a better grade than struggling kids who have been there doing the work every day.

Unless I am commanded to do so.

For all we know, she's been sitting home eating bon bons and watching The View and napping every couple of hours.


DeadpanAnn said...

Those students are the worst because they're the ones who REALLY don't have any parental guidance or supervision. They do what they want at home, and don't know how to act when they get to school and they encounter rules, boundaries, and authority figures. If she had any structure in her life, she would've been in school this whole time. I personally think they should fine parents for every day their kid misses school past a certain number of days per year.

Just be glad your principal and the counselor are gonna back you up on the zero average and the no make-up work thing. When I get students like that, they come with instructions from the front office telling me to "help" them.

Now excuse me. I have some bon bons to eat. Gotta keep my energy up for the lounging around. :)

Hillbilly Mom said...

Miss Ann,
Thank you for the official response to the needs of Hillmomba. Our Ministry of Education can now declare that The Buck Stops Here. No make-up work for time that you were not enrolled in school. That way, students will learn that when they get a job, the employer is not going to give them back pay for work they wish they had done before they were hired.

Enjoy those bon bons. ;)

Jennifer said...

I think she has an older sister attending the Community College I work at.

Sounds like your gonna have your work cut out for you. But your a sly fox HM and there is no way she can out fox you.

Hillbilly Mom said...

She is a bit unpolished, being only a freshman and all, so I have not yet met my match. If she makes it to senior year, she will be a formidable opponent.

I left you a cryptic comment on your blog, so you can follow my profile to my double-secret political blog, if you so desire.