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Old 10-11-2012, 11:49 AM   #1
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Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 4,641

Middle School Teachers -- opinions needed UPDATE, new question post 73

I have a meeting with my son's 8th grade English teacher tomorrow, and before I go in, I want a sense of whether I'm being unreasonable.

I am going to note that I work in an urban middle school. What I'm describing wouldn't fly in our school where we expect kids to have minimal support at home, but I wonder if it's more acceptable in an affluent suburban school where they do assume support at home.

My 8th grader currently has a D in 8th grade honors English. This is despite getting A's and B's in 6th and 7th, lots of time studying, multiple appointments after school with the teacher etc . . . So I'm concerned. Part of my concern is that while I'm willing, eager even, to help him I feel like I don't have any idea what to do. Even if I hired a tutor, I wouldn't know what to tell the tutor to review with him.

1) My child doesn't seem to know when there will be tests or what will be on them. He says the class is loud and it's hard to hear. He says that nothing about tests is written on the board for them to copy down, and when we look on the online system there's little to nothing there. As a result
-- He's failed one test on the novel they're reading because he didn't know it was coming and thus didn't study.
-- He failed another test that was described as being on "participles" on the online system. He didn't know what a participle was, and didn't have any notes or worksheets explaining them, so we worked for hours together with online resources. However, 1/2 the test turned out to be on gerunds instead, which we hadn't studied at all.
-- Tomorrow he has another test, I think. I say I think because last week he came home on Thursday panicked. He said he had a summative test on Friday and he didn't know how to study for it. I talked him down, we looked through his notes and the website and there was nothing. I asked him -- is it on the novel you're reading? The grammar you're studying? Narrative writing skills which you've covered? He didn't have a clue. We reviewed what was in his notebook and he went off and came back to tell me "Oh, it's not today it must be next Friday". Now, it's Thursday again, and we still don't know anything about the test.

2) There seems to be very little written information available. As I said, my kid usually studies hard to get decent grades. It doesn't come easily to him, but in this class there's very little to study or refer to. For example, they had to write a review of a product. They turned in their rough drafts, and I decided not to help him with the initial draft. Well, sure enough his came back with the feedback "this isn't a review". I read it and agreed, but when I asked him what a review was, he didn't have a clue. I then asked him for the rubric for the assignment, or the graphic organizers on the parts of a good review, or the sample reviews they had read in class, he couldn't come up with anything. Finally I found a link on the school website to a graphic organizer we could use, and I pulled up reviews online for him to read and we started from there.

3) It's week 6 of the year. We're a little more than halfway through the first quarter. The class is supposedly focused on writing and they've done 2 big writing assignments. Other than the first draft of the Review that wasn't a Review, my kid has received no written feedback on his assignments. Ordinarily, we'd look over the feedback on the first assignment, make sure he understood it, maybe have him take it in to talk about the teacher (not "why did I get this grade, but can you teach me so I do it right next time?"), but we haven't been able to do any of that.

So, am I being unreasonable? Like I said, I work in an urban environment. We give our kids everything they need for assignments. If there's a graphic organizer, then we print it out and hand it out, rather than posting it online and figuring they'll find it. If there's a test on something, there are hand outs or guided notes or a study guide so that kids can study on their own. We give back papers promptly and go over the feedback with the kids so their next paper will be better.

Last edited by Mickey'snewestfan; 10-16-2012 at 10:07 AM.
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