Today I sat down with my mutineer's mother to lay out a plan to get her caught up and back on track. I had her son in class a couple years ago and she was a little confused about the changes that had taken place in my classroom. Once I explained the reasoning behind my teaching methods and grading practices, she really seemed to be okay with Lydia's opportunities to get her grade up.
I also talked about how I thought that once Lydia figured out the system, she would find it easier to pinpoint exactly what she needed to work on. I reminded Lydia that she could retake quizzes over those things she didn't know and not have to worry about the things she does well.
She asked me what had made me do such a complete overhaul of my teaching existence and I told her the story of Harley. The year I had him in class, we held meeting after meeting trying to figure out how in the world we could get him to conform to our rules. The story was the same from each teacher. "Harley does great on tests, but won't pass unless he does his work."
I can remember a little voice in the back in my head saying, "You know, there is something wrong here..." The problem was that it didn't cross my mind that the problem was with me. I know I shouldn't feel too badly since apparently no other teacher in the room did either.
I told her that it took me long enough, but I finally realized that I had not given that child what he needed. I told her how hard it was for me to admit and that I still lay awake at nights wondering why in the hell it took me so long to lose that ridiculous superiority complex and just help the kid.
I told her that it was my hope that this system would allow me identify each student's weak areas and really truly help them learn.
At this point I am getting pretty emotional and thinking I really don't want to cry in front of a parent, but I look up and this mother is in tears.
Because, even though Harley and Lydia are on opposite ends of every spectrum, Lydia is Harley's sister.
*I have never been too clear on the actual definition of irony, so I could in all probability be using the term incorrectly here. Just go with it and be glad I don't teach Language Arts.