Super Teacher's Job is Never Done!

Super Teacher's Job is Never Done!
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Teaching is the profession that teaches all the other professions. ~ Author Unknown

My goal is to reveal one teacher's humble journey of self-reflection, critical analysis, and endless questioning about my craft of teaching and learning alongside my middle school students.

"The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called 'truth'." ~ Dan Rather

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

There are truly good parents out there....

All too often, I am frustrated by the two extremes of students' parents: those who are helicopters and those who are not involved at all in their children's academic lives. So, when I have an interaction with a parent who is happily in the middle of this spectrum, I am overcome with joy.

Thankfully, I had one such correspondence today. One of my students had been caught copying the homework of another student in history class right before my English class. While both students are typically high-performing, A-students, we have a no cheating tolerance policy on our team that is strictly enforced. Any student caught cheating or helping another student cheat is issued a zero on that assignment or test with an immediate phone call home. We take this matter extremely seriously, as we are trying to prepare our eighth grade students for the even more dire consequences academic dishonesty brings with it in high school and college.

During lunch, I called both children's parents. The following is an email response I received back from the student caught cheating not long after (If only ALL parents could be this responsive, caring, thoughtful, proactive, and committed!!):

Dear Teacher,

Thank you for your notification about Candace* plagiarizing her assignment. We appreciate your insight, candor and sensitivity to this matter. You have demonstrated yourself to be a caring and thoughtful educator; we are fortunate that she has you for a teacher.
This being the case, we thought it appropriate to let you know how we are planning to deal with this at home.

First, it is our expectation that Candace will apologize (in person) to all parties; the friend whose work she copied, that person’s parents and her teachers. We want her to learn that it is not acceptable to cheat and to put her friends into compromising positions by asking them to help her to do so. Additionally, she needs to learn that cheating is disrespectful to your efforts to educate her. She is typically very conscientious about her assignments but this recent incident indicates that she needs to reconsider  what it means to be “prepared for school.”  

We are going to ask that she come and speak to you about receiving an extra assignment, with no credit attached, to demonstrate that she is sorry for how she handled things. We want to make certain that this is not misinterpreted as a punishment coming from you, but that it is part of her contrition for cheating. This is why we would like for her to ask you about it and we will let you decide if you want to follow through with it or not. If you don’t think it is necessary, that would be fine but we want her to come to you and apologize and offer to do the extra work.

Lately, we have found that Candace seems to be avoiding getting ahead with her classroom reading. Generally, she reads on her own at night, but this year especially, she seems to be having difficulty keeping pace or getting ahead with her reading. We’re not sure why this is  and would appreciate any insight you can provide.

Thank you so much for your considerate response to this incident,

Your student's parents

* Name has been changed to protect my student's identity.

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