Let’s be honest… it’s really hard to give a damn about a kid’s grades when a kid doesn’t give a damn themself.
I know I am supposed to be mature, compassionate, professional and perpetually hopeful and encouraging but wow, sometimes it is just so hard when you are being asked to care about the performance of a student at a level that exceeds their own concern. I mean after having just done grades and participating in a school-wide dialogue about “low performing students”, I feel like very few people want to acknowledge a hard truth about being a teacher in this day and age.
We are being asked to care at a level that exceeds the caring shown by 1) the student themself and 2) a host of “other” adults in many of these students’ lives.
I think we all know what I mean when I say that it’s supremely challenging to care about a kid’s grade when they themselves couldn’t give a flying fudgesicle about their own academic performance. This aspect of our job is almost self-explanatory.
But who else is supposed to care… besides me?
To the administrators and the district, every F I give is more a piece of data than it is a real kid. Same with the politicians and such. I mean they know there are real faces behind the grades — and they pay lip service to the idea that these are real people — but at the end of the day, they see trends and charts and graphs and data much more than they see real people.
And the way that they are slashing budgets and cutting services and resources and programs and personnel (and on and on and on, geesh, what aren’t they cutting nowadays?) it’s hard for me to buy into the idea that many of these folks really care about kids the way I believe they ought — or care about them more than I do.
What about the parents? (I am not even going to go there right now because it’s a can of worms that I don’t even know how to properly address. Just SO complicated.)
Now some teachers relish giving the F, as if it’s their own little revenge on a semester filled with grief and aggravation. “Ha!” they think. “You may have tortured me, but with this F, I get to throw a wee bit of gunk into your future karma… SO TAKE THAT YOU LITTLE PUNK!”
Other teachers feel sadness about giving an F to a kid that demonstrates no concern for their own academic well-being. They give F’s with a, “This F is gonna cook you in a way that you don’t even realize and I hate to do it but you’ve boxed me in — there’s no other way.”
And then, once you have been doing this long enough, you hear about how as a teacher, you shouldn’t take it home with you. How it is just part of the gig. It’s part and parcel. You learn the Q-TIP principal.
Well, I am still waiting for the point in my career when that actually happens. And when it does, isn’t that also a signal it might be time to leave the classroom?