Friday, May 27, 2016

Day 170: Teeth Grinding

"Mr. Aion, if I fail your class, I won't graduate. Your class is the only one!"

On the rare occasion when this is true, that mine is the only class that a student is failing, I am deeply torn about what to do.

On one hand, I don't want my class to be the reason that a kid doesn't graduate, especially when my class is an elective.

On the other hand, if they are failing my class, it is as a direct result of the choices that they made throughout the year.

I may have written about this a few times before and I'm not sure I have much else to add at this point.

Our educational system isn't very forgiving of long-term mistakes.  Poor decision making in 1 or two key classes could mean a whole extra year of high school.  That doesn't seem right at all.  I didn't start making good long term decisions until [insert future date here].

On top of this, the graduation requirements almost seem arbitrary.  They vary from state to state and then again from district to district.  The brilliant Starr Sackstein wrote an excellent piece for EdWeek on exactly this topic.
"Thanks for the praise, Justin! I think you're pretty great too! You're so insightful and a model of reflection for the teaching community!" she seemed to say

As a nation, we haven't been able to decide on the purpose of public education.  Every teacher has their own goals, as does every school, every district, every county, and every state.  The Venn Diagram of Educational Purpose would be the stuff of a topological doctoral thesis.

In October, I spoke with a reporter, questioning the idea of determining if schools are succeeding when we can't agree on what we're trying to do in the first place.

Now, with 9 days left (4 for seniors), I am being approached by more and more students asking what they can do to get their 25% up to a passing grade for the year.

"Why did I get an F on that project?"
"You never turned it in."
"I've had it ready!"
"Then why didn't you turn it in?"
"I didn't know you wanted it!"
"I'm sorry. I couldn't hear you over the sound of my own grinding teeth and incredulity.  What did you say?"

I'm having tremendous difficulty not washing my hands of the whole thing, but maybe it's time that I do.

If you have not done so, please take a few minutes to fill out this survey. I would greatly appreciate it.

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