Today is my kids' last day of school. I have been sitting on this post for months because I did not want to risk my son's stupid teacher seeing it and punishing my kid for what I am about to write. My mother, grandmother, and 2 great aunts were all teachers. My cousins on my mom's side are both educators. I think MOST teachers are underpaid, under appreciated, and awesome. Unfortunately, this is NOT my son's teacher. Not. Even. A. Little.
My son's 3rd grade teacher is a lazy, mean, slacker of a woman who SCREAMS at the kids in the class for doing the normal things 8 and 9 year olds do -- like talking or getting distracted by shiny objects across the room. Like most parents, I ignored the stories my kid would tell about her (he is MY kid after all, his imagination kind of rocks). I had met her and she didn't seem that bad, a little stern maybe, but I figured that would be good for him (especially since I'm a "Sloth Mom"). I even went so far as to ground him for not turning in a few assignments even though he swore that he did them and turned them in because she said he did not. She and I had a slight disagreement about the way she was teaching multiplication early on in the year (she was giving them 3-4 "strategies" and it was confusing William who was trying to use them all at once). I started using flash cards to make him just memorize the times tables like Mrs. Phipps had done for me in 3rd grade. She told me not to do that because "studies had shown that memorization did not work as an effective teaching tool." I told her that was how I had learned multiplication 29 years ago and that I STILL could do multiplication in my head because I just knew that 8 X 8 was 64 and 12 X 12 was 144 by looking at them. It blew over. She quit trying to tell me what I could or couldn't teach my kid at home and I taught William how to "show his work" to make it appear that he had used one of her stupid strategies. About the beginning of January, right after the holidays, was my first REAL indication that my son might not be exaggerating.
One of the things that 3rd graders at this school have to do, is read 100 minutes a week and write a 3-5 sentence "log" about it every week on their log sheet. Every 6 weeks they get a new sheet, with 3 sections on each side. Well see, I was the room mom. (See Don't Ever Agree To Be The Room Mom. EVER.) At the "Holiday Party" for Christmas, I was talking with his teacher about how I had made him do his reading but I hadn't made him write the 3-5 sentences yet. Her response was "Oh don't worry about it. I'm thinking I won't even grade it." So I thought, cool, we'll skip it. I had planned and executed that whole stupid party on my own, just gotten over surgery, we were making a 13 hour drive to Huntsville -- one less thing to worry about. Then, after the first 3 weeks back at school, he brings home his folder with a big, red, zero on that blank reading log and 100's on the other 2. I emailed her and asked her about our conversation at the party and she said that IF she had said that, it was a joke. Ha. Ha. I asked if he could re-do it and I was told that those grades had already been entered and could not be changed. Annoying? Yes. But not a reason to release my mom-wrath on her.
About 3 weeks after that, we had the Valentine's Day party. She seemed annoyed by the whole thing. She didn't want to have the party at all because they had "too much classwork to do." Now, don't get me wrong, I am all for working hard in school, but seriously? These kids only get TWO parties a year and they only last 40 minutes or so. So while I am there, she mentions to me that William has some assignment's missing. This is news to me. She said that she told him about them and she doesn't know why he wouldn't tell me. (Oh, I dunno....because I am his mom and he would get into trouble?) I asked her why she didn't send me a note, or an email, or call me, and she said that she had told William. A little later in the party I got William by himself and asked him about these missing assignments and he said that he had done them and turned them in. I asked him if she had told him she didn't have them and he said "Yeah, but she says that all the time and then she finds them." I was still inclined to take the teachers side (I was turning into my mother). I made him do the assignments over. They were worksheets, and I did them with him that night at home and returned them the next day. The following Tuesday, they came home in his weekly folder with grades of 90 -- 10 points off for being late. Again, annoying since I didn't even know about them, but whatever.
Then the following week, when I got his weekly folder, it finally clicked for me that my kid was NOT exaggerating. That SHE was most likely the problem. Because in the weekly folder was the EXACT SAME WORKSHEETS -- all marked 100. So naturally, I emailed her and asked her if these 100's would replace the 90's since obviously they HAD been turned in. I did not accuse her of anything, I was not snarky, I just asked a question. I was told that because those grades had already been recorded (the 90's) that they could not be changed. Now I was ticked. Don't get me wrong, my kid makes A's, and a 90 is still an A, but it was the principle of it -- she docked my kid what was essentially 40 points (10 points per worksheet) and accused him of not doing his work, when SHE was the one who had lost it. Still though, I kept the mom-wrath in check....for now.
Looking through my kid's folder once over the next few weeks, I came upon a paper that was marked 68. I had a momentary freak-out. Then I started looking at the paper and found several problems that were marked wrong, that were correct. I asked William about it because there were also 2 letters written on the bottom of the front page.
"Hey William, what does 'NR' mean?"
"Oh, those are the initials of the kid who graded my paper."
"Yeah, my teacher told us that she didn't have time to grade all of the papers so she has us swap papers a lot of the time and grade each others."
Hmmmmm.....So, of course, I emailed the teacher and let her know (in a non-snarky way) that the kid that graded William's paper had made a mistake, that 68 should have been like an 87 or something. And, I did ask her if she double checked the papers that the students graded when the scores were low or uncharacteristic of the student's normal work. The answer I got back, WAS snarky. She told me that student's often change incorrect answers to correct ones after the grades had been determined and recorded and that she did not review student graded papers because the whole point of having the students grade them was to save her time. What I got from that was "No, I don't check them because I'm lazy and your kid probably changed some (but not all) of his incorrect answers to correct ones." Now I'm starting to pass "annoyed" -- in fact, I am moving dangerously close to "pissed."
There were several other instances -- most notable was a worksheet that only had 4 questions. William missed one. I looked at what he had written and it looked correct -- I think it was about products, supply, and demand, etc. It was a fill-in-the-blank question and the teacher had written the "correct" answer above William's "wrong" one. The correct answer did not even fit in the sentence. It was improper English. Tried to argue with her about this and she said that it was the way the book had it and all William had to do was copy it directly out of the book. I sarcastically said something like "Oh, okay. So because my son was smart enough to realize that the sentence didn't make sense, and corrected it to use the word that DID make sense and still be correct, you counted it wrong? Yeah, that makes sense." She replied that he hadn't followed directions. (Grit teeth, bite tongue, it's only April, just get through the rest of the school year, don't cause problems...)
At the end of April, I saw her in the carpool line and she told me that William had failed to turn in an assignment on Citizenship. (Suuuuuuuure he did.) so I asked if he could re-do it. She said "Yeah, just 4 pictures and 4 sentences about what it means to be a good citizen." We went home, he got his paper and pencil and whipped it out really fast. He said that it was because he'd already done it once. Sent it back and the following week it came home in his weekly folder with a grade of 80 because it wasn't in color -- also included was the ORIGINAL assignment (that WAS in color). What. The. Hell. I wrote the first snarky email asking why, if she had wanted him to do it in color she should have mentioned it -- I had him do exactly what she had told me to have him do and that it seemed sort of pointless anyway since she had since located the one she said she never got. Her response was that the original one had been "misplaced" and that even though she had found it, William hadn't put his name on it and he would have been counted off for that regardless. She said that the grade couldn't be changed because (you guessed it!) the grades had already been turned in. I called the school to make an appointment to see the principal.
In the meantime (I couldn't get a meeting with the principal for about 2 weeks due to our conflicting schedules), more things occurred -- like her counting of 20 points on his stupid reading log the week of the tornadoes in Alabama because I didn't sign it. I sent a VERY snarky note back on that one. I told her that she should NEVER count points off on my son's work for something that I did or didn't do since that wasn't his fault. I told her that I had been more than a little pre-occupied with the tornadoes in my home state -- first locating all of my friends and family to make sure that they were okay, and then relaying information to those friends and family who had no other source. I had made sure that he had completed the assignment and since he had done so EVERY WEEK SINCE AUGUST, me not signing it should not be counted against him. The email I got from her said simply -- "These grades have already been turned in, so I will not argue over this."
I met with the principal. I told her all of this. I told her that I was just trying to get through the rest of the year, but that she needed to be made aware because I was afraid that I was going to lose my temper and go off on this teacher in full view of the students, staff, and parents if things did not calm down. I also told her that the excuse that "The grades have been turned in and therefore could not be changed" was total crap. I think the exact thing I said was "Ferris Beuller was hacking the computer and changing his grades in 1986, you cannot seriously expect me to believe that grades cannot be changed if the teacher is willing to do it." The principal was sympathetic. She was careful not to accuse her teacher of anything or say anything that could misconstrued as taking sides. She said that she could see how me and this teacher might "clash" because of our personalities and that she wished I had come to see her earlier in the year. I told her that I knew moving my kid for the last month was not possible, but that since I had resorted to responding like a 13 year old girl to everything this teacher did, I felt like perhaps I needed to just give it to her to handle and step away. We ended the meeting with her assuring me that she would look into it, have a talk with the teacher, and see about getting William into a handwriting class for next year. I felt better. I was going to make it. We were going to end the year without anymore incidents, and next year would be better. Then William came home from school yesterday with his backpack full of crap.
She had sent home a stack of 14 papers stapled together yesterday (yes, the last school night of the year) with "Incomplete Assignments" written across the top of the first sheet. What the WHAT?! Grades have already been completed, William got a certificate for making the honor roll, what was I supposed to do with this? She must be on crack if she thinks I am going to make my 9 year old do 14 pages of homework on the last day of school. I figured since it was the last day of school, I'd write "To accompany the incomplete education he got from you this year" and send it back. Since grades have already been entered and since apparently that's the same as carving them in stone, she will be unable to retaliate by taking it out on my son's grades. So......I did. It was immature. It was snarky. And it made me feel better. She can suck it.