Friday, September 15, 2006

Dear Mr. M.,

My daughter received her progress report today, which included an F- for Drama.
(by the way, I've been a teacher for almost 20 years, and this is the first time I've ever seen a minus after an F!)

It was also reported that she was not absent at all for your class, but Erin actually missed the entire first week of school due to illness. (You may recall I wrote to you about make-up work during that time.) I only mention this to remind you that she did miss some instruction, which put her behind in every class.

After she finally got started in your T, Th class, one week later she was told she must switch to MWF classes. You may not know that this is Erin's first year at American Heritage. She didn't know anyone when she started out. Since Drama and Art class allow for more interaction than most other subjects, she had made a few friends already and was disappointed to have to change. She also wanted to have art three times per week because she would like to be an artist. Thankfully, Ms. LeFevre was able to switch her back.

Erin told me the reason she received an F- in Drama is because she did not return a signed syllabus. Many of the other teachers wrote comments under their grades, but there was nothing noted under her F-, so I assume what she told me is true.

She also told me that she never received a syllabus. I think that it is very possible that she is telling the truth, because as you can see from her other grades, she was able to return signed forms for all her other teachers, and also turns in all her assignments on time. She is a good, hard-working and honest student.

The whole concept of switching classes is new to her, and everything and everyone at American Heritage is new to her. It is a bit overwhelming. If indeed, her F- was based entirely on whether or not she turned in that one paper, I hope you can reconsider and give her a chance to hand it in. I think that, given the fact that she switched in an out of your classes two times already, she should be given some special consideration on this.

I am disappointed that Erin's first progress report at her new middle school had to be so negative. I am very proud of how well she is doing. I see her working an average of three hours per night on homework, and she has stayed after school to get extra help in many subjects. For the most part, she is very happy with American Heritage. This, however, has made her feel bad.

I look forward to hearing back from you about this. If you feel it is necessary to talk about this in person, please let me know.
If her grade was based on more than the missing signature, than I definitely want to know the reason.


Lauren Gurus

PS Erin can be quite shy at first, but when it comes to performing, you will be surprised. She participated in a summer theater camp that put on a spectacular performance of Annie. She has also attended several extra curricular drama classes. I think the most important thing is that she feels comfortable and has fun continuing to learn how to express herself in this way. I'm personally afraid that starting out with an F- will have a detrimental affect.


At 10:51 PM, Blogger Sam of the ten thousand things said...

This is a good letter. If a student makes an F because of a missing, signed syllabus, then education is absolutely not necessary -- and, most importantly, the teacher needs another gig.

At 11:05 PM, Blogger Pamela V said...

Good for you!

I truly believe that many students are so sensitive to criticism that a bit of negativity (including an F-) will turn them away from school altogether.

My 9 year old is an honor student and this year has started on a rough note. There are unruly kids in her class, which takes away from the attention the other students receive. Then there are 3 super-advanced boys in her class, and that doesn't help her to feel confident. Now add a teacher who often has tests with only 4 questions on it, which means - you make one mistake - you flunk. It's a pass or fail thing. All this together is rough on a sensitive child like mine, who wants to do well. I think it's a damned shame that teachers have to grade all kids the same - with no regard for personal achievements or how hard they try.
I don't want my daughter to be turned off from learning, we have high hopes for her future. I know you feel the same way about your daughters, so hang in there and stand up for them (as you are doing.)

At 4:28 AM, Blogger michi said...

good letter. i hope you can sort this out. your school system is so different from ours that i cannot relate to the switching and some of the subjects either, but i get that this seems a bit unnecesary, like some "warning" from the teacher. ugh.

At 8:34 AM, Blogger lorguru said...

I anxiously await his response. I will keep you posted!

At 9:43 AM, Blogger tshsmom said...

This signing the syllabus thing always irked me. Every year, I would send a letter to all Z's teachers, explaining ADD and Executive Dysfunction. I begged them to contact me if papers weren't making it back to them. Not ONE of his teachers contacted me. They just flunked him!


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