Wednesday, September 28, 2011

F Marks the Spot

Against what we considered our better judgment, Danielle's program for behaviorally-challenged teens decided to mainstream her for an elective class this semester.

Not surprisingly, she is now failing that class.

The reason?

She hasn't turned in eight assignments.  At least some of those assignments were assigned while we were out of town.

Danielle knew, in advance, that we were going out of town.  We informed the school that we were going to be out of town, and asked that her instructors send work home with her.  Danielle "forgot" at least some of those assignments.  We know for a fact that she didn't bring her reading book home, and she denied receiving any assignments from her mainstreamed class, other than being asked to take a few photographs while she was gone.

She barely did any work while we were away.  We reminded her a couple of times, but opted not to get into a control battle over homework.  The consequences of failing to do her homework were going to be on her, and that's where we left it.

Yesterday, we got an e-mail from Danielle's homeroom teacher that said the following:

We've been trying to help her get caught up.  There is not enough time in the day to devote the time she needs to get caught up.  She was directed by our staff to bring her [failing subject] book home and work on assignments there.  She left the book on her desk.  I believe she was also told by Mr. [teacher of failing subject] to take pictures of [failing subject] and label them.  I don't know if she followed that directive.  She also has had notes downloaded on her gig stick, but never seems to bring it to school.  Perhaps you could help her get caught up so she can have a passing grade.

We avoided the temptation to send back a snarky, "we told you so," remark, or to ask the obvious question, "how do you expect us to help her if we don't have the book here?"  We politely replied that we would discuss the situation with Danielle, but that our availability to help her is somewhat limited, because of our work schedules.

The real answer is, I'm not going to get into a huge control battle with my kid over school.

We did tell her we expected to see the book, in her hands, tomorrow afternoon, no excuses.  We also told her that if she brought home a failing grade on her progress report, there would be some unpleasant consequences.

When she tried to argue, we cut her off.  "You know what is expected, you know what the consequences will be if you do not meet our expectations, and that's all we have to say on this subject."

And now we are done discussing the problem.

Of course Danielle tried to argue that she'd already received some consequences at school.

"That may be true," we answered calmly, "but when your teacher says, "perhaps you could help her get caught up so she can have a passing grade," we are going to get involved.

I think a snowflake has a better chance of surviving in hell than Danielle has of passing this class.

1 comment:

  1. So it's one thing to battle over homework, but when you pull your kid out of school for two weeks, that's two weeks worth of instruction she missed. So of course there's going to be some extra catching up to do. This isn't just homework - it's 8 or 10 days (or whatever) worth of seat time, instruction, discussion, focused practice, remediation, assessment AND homework she missed out on. She came back with nothing done, and the class didn't stop, because you were on vacation. If she didn't have step 1, 2, and 3 completed, there was no way she could start rolling with step 4 on her first day back.

    She was completely over her head. And you do bear some responsibility in this, voluntarily pulling her out of school for two weeks to go on vacation, without setting up time and space to do her work, without being informed about what needed to be done, without playing the role of teacher a bit, as the rest of her class is continuing on without her, and she needs to keep up.

    I feel like if a parent isn't willing to play a supportive role during school-time vacation, then maybe you shouldn't take your kids on vacation during the school year. Or if you're going to pull her out, and refuse to do structured, guided, school-related activities during those missing school days, then you're going to have to accept that she is going to fall behind and fail, and not heap a bunch of consequences on top of it.

    I understand that your daughter has special needs and is combative with you. I get that. So that's why it's all the more puzzling why you'd pull her out of school in the beginning of the school year, when she needs the consistency of routine, the structure, and the format of the school day.

    It sounds like you had a great vacation - you blogged that she had a great time and didn't have any meltdowns. School wasn't mentioned at all in your blog. Did you read through her extended absence packet of work and were you familiar with what needed to be done? Did you set up a consistent time and place for her to do her work? Did you provide some instruction or guided practice for the skills that were being presently taught back at home?

    You set her up for failure here. And I do think you have a responsibility here to help her at this point. Especially because she has special needs, she doesn't know where to begin. This isn't the same as a homework battle, she missed two weeks of school. You need to provide the instruction, discussion, guided practice and remediation she missed. Then she'll be able to do her homework on her own, and you can back off to your usual hands-off approach. Then it's her chance to make the right decisions. But you have to start with teaching her what she missed. That's what the teacher meant by "getting her back up to speed."


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