Followers

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Negotiating for Goals

Reading and writing about the incident involving the player from the girls lacrosse team at Yarmouth High School (if you didn't catch yesterday's post, click here),  got me thinking back to my days in the classroom.  I remember once when I had a star from the school's hockey team in my class, whom I'll call Jack.  (In truth, I don't remember his name, it was many years ago!)

Jack wasn't a very motivated student.  He lived pretty much for hockey and not much more.  He was sliding along, just barely passing his classes; not because he didn't have the ability, but because he couldn't be bothered to do homework or study for tests.  He was the star of the hockey team, after all.  The school did have a policy, however, that to be eligible to play a sport, a student had to have passing grades in all classes.

Eventually, the predictable happened.  Jack found himself failing my class.  He needed an average of 70 to pass, and he only managed to achieve a 66.  I was called on the carpet by the principal; how could this happen to the star hockey player.  I produced my gradebook, and the principal, after seeing the number of times he failed to pass in homework assignments, the test grades he had earned, and a final exam grade of 45 (on a test where the class average had been 81), agreed with me that I had no choice but to issue a failing grade for the semester. 

I should mention also that Jack had never once come in for extra help, nor prior to the end of the semester made any effort to question the grades he had been seeing on his test papers.  Finally, one day I was informed that Jack's father wanted to meet with me in the guidance counselor's office after school.  I knew that I probably was going to be pressured to pass Jack, so that he could finish out the season on the hockey team. 
After a three-way discussion between the guidance counselor, Jack's Dad, and me, which included showing them Jack's grades, his father was silent for a few minutes.  Finally, he turned to me and sad, "Couldn't you just give Jack 4 points this semester, and take them back next semester?"

I looked the man in the eye and answered, "Would you go to the official in a hockey game and ask him to give Jack 3 goals this game and take them back the next?"

The counselor bit back a smile, and gave me a congratulatory look.  Jack's Dad had no response.  He sat there for a moment, and then he got up and left.  The counselor thanked me for putting the problem into perspective and presenting it in a manner that Jack's hockey-fanatic Dad could understand.

It was time for some tough love.



Blogger Templates

Blogger Templates

21 comments:

JackieA said...

I taught Law at private college some years ago and I can identify with kids not making the grade and 'begging' for that odd one or two points just to pass. What is more pathetic is when their parents come to beg for the marks on their behalf.

Steven Anthony said...

WELL DONE my friend...sounds like that was just what the dad needed to hear;)

Helene said...

Well, good for you!!! You gotta wonder how many teachers had backed down before that, letting the boy slide.

Kind of makes you wonder what ever happened to him!!

Alyssa said...

Kids, parents, teachers...who among them is not under pressure?

Brian Miller said...

way to go...more parents need that so they understand how t use it with their kids.

Deb said...

Yay Eva!

My son showed me a letter from one of his college professors a couple of years ago. It was the beginning of the semester and this letter was her lame attempt at outlining what she expected. She started the letter,

"Welcome students and athletes".

Apparently in her world athletes will never be students.

My name is PJ. said...

You are so smart! That was perfect! And I'm heartened that there used to be schools in this country wherein the athletes had to read and write!

R.J. said...

Good for you. Clever approach. When I taught, parents fancied themselves to be "lawyers" and questioned the grades themselves. That finally forced teachers to collect files of the student assignments as proof of the source of the grades. That generates tons of files of paperwork, but that is common practice now. Teachers have to pass criminal clearances to teach, but they can't be trusted to keep a grade book without proof.

Midday Escapades said...

Way to stand your ground and get your point across. Tough love is right on!

natalee said...

Hooray for you.. I might have to steal your line...

Laffylady said...

Fantastic...you were a whippersnapper, and still are...woo Hoo..!

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

Excellant!

Nothing else needs to be said here...just EXCELLANT!

DJan said...

It is really sad. And the saddest part is that the parent came to the school to get you to change the grade. I wonder why the kid didn't think about talking with you? I guess he expected to slide through.

Jen said...

Good for you, teach!! The problem now-a-days is that parents never believe their "sportsman" child would ever do anything to deserve suspension from a game!!! Not their child.....this starts , with some parents, as early as little league!!

glnroz said...

GOOD for YOU on that,, although,, I though yu might be talking about me,, there,, for awhile,,:)

Writing Without Periods! said...

Great. I'm impressed. I was a teacher/professor for years. Kids need to be challenged.
Mary

bluewhitelife said...

haha, I love athlete parents. Or heck, any parents that think their kids need better grades. I'm sorry, but your kids are in college (in my experience). That means they can do their own work :)

The Vegetable Assassin said...

On a similar note, I've had a bee in my bonnet for years about athletes who get into good colleges on their athletic skills yet graduate with questionable academic degrees. You see some of them who are obviously not the sharpest tools in the shed yet they have a degree in economics or something. I don't buy it. I'm not saying all athletes are dumb AT ALL, but man, there's no debating that a bunch of them got to University on their playing skills and have never even sat in a classroom.

So yeah, well done to you!!!

Eva Gallant said...

blue: true!

Mary(Writing): I really just got lucky that response popped into my head!

Glen: I can picture you as a "jock". You obviously were working some of the time as evidenced by your writing skills!

Jen: I'm afraid you're right; some people's values are all mixed up!

Deb: Interesting observation.

Alyssa: too bad more students don't feel pressure to learn.

Steven: Let's hope so.

The Lucy and Dick Show said...

I wish someone had done that with them all Eva! Maybe they wouldn't have grown into "Woods" nymphs if you know what I mean!

Marla said...

You are the kind of teacher I loved as a student and as a parent. Well done!