Meet My Neighbor – Nicki’s Nook

Welcome back to my open house of neighbors!  This week I’m thrilled to introduce you to my neighbor Nicki.  I found Nicki’s Nook in the blogosphere back in November through some other neighbors of mine (that’s how we roll around here… friends meet friends, become friends, share friends and on and on) and her honest thought provoking comments and posts intrigued me.  I went on to find out that she has six, yes you read that correctly, SIX kids.  I was determined to stop moaning and groaning about the stress in my life over two measly (that would be measly as in small, insignificant, not measely, like the itchy bumpy disease) kids after finding this out but, yeah, that didn’t happen.  It has been inspiring to say the least, that not only did she raise #1-#6 but they are all older than my kids so she raised them successfully!  She has given me hope that I can do it too!  Nicki always writes about topics that are important to HER, but we can all relate.  You’ll find that you have to stop and THINK after reading her posts because they bring up very interesting topics that stir the mind a bit.  I do promise though that you’ll be Hooked on the Nook just like I am.

Welcome Nicki!

GRADE DRAMA

Drama!  I wish I had a sign for my door that said “Drama Free Zone!”  Unfortunately, my youngest, affectionately known as #6, might not like that as he has discovered a love of the performing arts.

The latest issue in the wonderful world of six kids has come through my drama-loving #6.  About three years ago, my school district put in a system called “Parent Portal.”  Each student was given a separate ID.  The first year or two parents were required to attend a training session to be able to use the system.  I didn’t have time.  I didn’t really want to go to a computer training session when I spent more time on a PC than most of the IT people at the district.  I chose to not partake.  Teachers could get a hold of me.  All had my email and my phone number.  I liked these tried and true techniques.  I could, if absolutely needed, call or email the school.

Generally, I didn’t initiate a lot of contact.  I just responded if there was an issue.  With more than one child in a particular school building, I did not always get to meet teachers during curriculum nights.  I would request, through guidance, a separate meeting with the child’s teachers shortly after that event to be sure I knew what was expected of each student in each different class.

The last two years, at least at the high school level, the curriculum night involved being given your password and log in for each child to “Parent Portal.”  No training class necessary.  I do log in occasionally but prefer to have discussions, face to face, with my children as to how classes are going.  I like to think that I am their advocate so I need to have their side of the coin.  I like to think I can trust them to tell me they don’t like a teacher or the explanation for this assignment is confusing.  I do not log into “Parent Portal” often and usually it is to check attendance records.  I don’t want my kids skipping classes.

Imagine my surprise when second quarter mid-term grades came home at Christmas time.  #6 is failing English.  He has never had a super great grade in English but he had not turned in several assignments – which I did find out from checking “Parent Portal.”  My surprise was not his English grade.  My surprise was that I had not once been contacted by the teacher.  No email home at Thanksgiving time that my son had not turned in a major essay.  No email or phone call home during the three weeks of classes in December that my son had not turned in some minor homework assignments and then another essay.  No nothing from the teacher.

I went back over my phone/caller ID logs.  No calls from the school district showed on it during that time.  I kept thinking maybe I had missed the call and subsequent message.  NOTHING!

While I think school districts need to put in as many ways to communicate with parents as possible, I am at a total loss as to why I have still not heard from the woman who is my son’s English teacher.  He does not have an overall failing average.  His overall average, not including PE class, is 80.  His English average is in the mid 30’s so you can tell he is just not doing something as he is not stupid.  He has said, though, he doesn’t understand what the teacher wants.

But I am still hung up on why I haven’t heard from the teacher.  The spring drama has been cast and my son has a part.  The director emailed all the students’ individual teachers, as opposed to asking for student averages from Guidance, for concerns.  The English teacher told the director she didn’t think my son should be allowed to participate, but still NO word to home from this teacher about my son’s grades and lack of participation in her class.

The question is does having an online grade system in place allow a teaching professional to abdicate his or her responsibilities to contact parents.  Should I be upset that the teacher isn’t talking to me but is talking to her colleagues about my son?  Also, should I be concerned that the code of conduct, which the teacher is sighting as the reason #6 should not be allowed to participate in drama, does not say anything about passing every class?

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15 Comments

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15 responses to “Meet My Neighbor – Nicki’s Nook

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Meet My Neighbor – Nicki’s Nook « Drama For Mama -- Topsy.com

  2. I taught for ten years and I always – always! – communicated with a student’s parent when a student was in academic jeopardy.

    The presence of this online grading system complicates matters, I think. (Any way to tell if she tried to contact you that way?) Either way, though, I would say the situation is one that merits two-way communication, an actual conversation, not just a message left on some computer system.

  3. Nicki

    Kristen – There is no communication via the online system. Teachers and/or parents have to communicate via written note, email or phone call. The online system just allows parents to check grades and assignments. The teacher in question is brand new and better hope I don’t get asked what I think of her performance. I gave her my two phone numbers – home and cell – and email at the beginning of the house. Other teachers have taken up her slack. One of the drama club advisors has taken to “tutoring” #6 during his free period.

  4. That seems so odd that you wouldn’t have heard anything, especially when she’s suggesting that he shouldn’t be able to participate in an activity. AND when they have all those means of communication.

    After reading the comments of her being brand new – was this her first teaching job as well? Not that that’s an excuse, but maybe she didn’t know the protocol. Hopefully the situation gets straightened out soon!

  5. We have had the EXACT same issue with Awesome Stepkid R. We can check his grades online but rarely do so. Occasionally, he will completely drop the ball and not turn in several assignments and we do not learn of it until report cards or conferences. No phone call or email. NADA.

    The online “grade check” gives teachers a complete *out*…your kid is failing? So sorry, you could have gone online any time and checked his progress…

    I am a former teacher and know how hard the job is, and I know how many students you have to teach in a semester. But this online thing bothers me, because even though teachers don’t have to contact parents, shouldn’t they? Isn’t there part of the job description that involves CARING about the student as a person? As a learner? And if the student starts not turning in things or isn’t meeting requirements, shouldn’t that mean that you ought to care enough about them to see if anything is going on at home or with them?

    Harumph.

  6. Oooh, that make me so mad! I taught before my boys were born and we HAD to let parents know if their kids were failing. I liked to let parents know anytime their kids’ grades slipped below a C. There’s no excuse for no communication.

  7. Nicki

    @Corinne – This is not her first teaching job and I have a pretty good reputation as an involved parent at the district. I don’t think she could be scared of me but … who knows?

    @TKW – I am about to throw teacher responsibilities as outlined in the high school code of conduct at someone. LOL! She is basically abdicating her responsibilities and it annoys me.

    @Shell – the worst thing is that this is simply a case of he didn’t understand – at least according to him – the assignment the way his teacher explained it so he didn’t do it. We had a long discussion about that in itself. Another teacher has a free period the same as he does every other day so she is helping him with that end of it.

  8. Such a tricky issue. Have you tried contacting her?

    • Nicki

      Ambrosia – I am at fault for not contacting her. Since a plan has been put in place for my son, I feel like contacting her will rock the boat now and I don’t want to do that. I will, though, eventually contact her.

  9. Oh, that is frustrating! We have that ‘parental portal’ too, but I always forget it’s there!

    Thanks for taking part in Won’t You Be My Neighbor! Be sure to sign the linky at Never-True Tales if you haven’t done so already! I’m enjoying getting to know you through this!

  10. I think that is completely unacceptable that the teacher has not contacted you. I think a teacher has a responsibility to at least attempt a parent contact regarding any student who is failing a class. We’re not talking college here–kids are still at home with parents for a reason when they are teenagers. I would contact the teacher by email and CC the guidance counselor so that it is on record that you are initiating the contact.

  11. Nicki

    @Amy – I hate that whole parent portal thing. I don’t forget about it but like to – with my rose-colored glasses on – believe what my kids tell me.

    @Jen – That is my issue. I am annoyed the teacher still has not made any contact with me. I am going to contact her but I am also going to contact the principal about teacher responsibilities at some point.

  12. This post aggravated me to know end! It seems so wrong on so many levels. I’m not sure if I could handle such poor communication. I’m someone who needs a lot of two way communication in order to feel comfortable in situations involving my kids. Without that, I feel helpless. I don’t care what kind of technology is in place to cover for the teacher… it is still their responsibility to have you as their number one priority. I think you’re handling this very calmly!

    Thanks Nicki for a great post and an interesting discussion!

    • Nicki

      Becca – Thanks for having me. This is something that has just become an issue in our district so it is new. I also know that other teachers have taken up this particular teacher’s slack and are helping #6 so I am less concerned. I am calm now but no guarantees when I finally talk to the teacher.

  13. Nicki

    Hi all! Just wanted to let you know that I still did not hear from the teacher but have worked out a plan for his English tutoring. Yes, the child is failing his first language.

    I also found out, finally, that the policy that I was looking for is a Board of Education policy. It is never given to the students. It is also never given to parents. And, a student must be failing two courses to be told he/she cannot participate.

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