At the start of the school year, Kelsey came home and said that her new teacher (who is
a new teacher - first teaching job) has a system when the students don't complete their homework, she sends home a note for the parents to sign. I guess this is so we know that our child has not done their job. I have no issue with this.
In September, Jake was in the hospital, and we all know what it's like when this happens. Everyone's lives are turned upside-down. Someone has to get Kelsey from school, bring her to the hospital, and sometimes she stays overnight with someone, or sometimes not. Sometimes she doesn't get home until late and then she has to go to bed. So, during this particular hospital stay, Kelsey had homework to do, but because of what was going on, it was impossible for her to complete it. We sent a note to her teacher explaining why she couldn't do her homework, and the next day, she came home with a homework note to be signed. I thought this was just a formality, and didn't really think much of it.
There was another time Kelsey did complete her homework, but forgot to take it back to school with her. It was over a weekend, and to be honest, I think she left it at one of the grandma's houses. Anyway, she came home with a homework note, and in turn we sent a note of explanation along with it. If the teacher didn't accept that, I'm okay with that. It's up to her to make sure it's brought back to school.
Anyway, Thursday morning everyone was getting ready for work/school/day care, etc. Kelsey says, "you know what happened at school yesterday?" I told her I didn't, and then she said in the morning the teacher asked the class, "Who has never received a homework note?" So, some kids put up their hands, and some did not. Kelsey did not because she was being totally honest. Then the teacher says, "For those of you who have never received one, I'm buying you all pizza for lunch today!!
" So, some of the kids had a pizza lunch, and the rest of the kids had to go down to the lunchroom and eat the lunches they brought from home.
Before reading any further, please keep in mind that the school has a strict policy that the kids are NOT to hand out birthday party invitations at school, for this may cause bad feelings for the students who are not invited to these parties. This is printed in the school's monthly newsletter that is sent home to each family. Okay...read on...
I wonder how that made the kids feel that had to go to the lunchroom? Did that give them incentive to never miss doing their homework again, or did it make them feel like shit because they weren't allowed to have pizza?
In case you aren't sure which way I'm leaning, my opinion is the second one.
I couldn't leave this alone. It just seemed so wrong. I've never done this before, but I called the school and spoke to the principal about this and nearly lost my mind when I heard what he had to say (I'm getting pissed just thinking about it).
The principal told me that the teacher discussed this with him at the start of the school year, and that the students were aware that there would be a reward involved for those who did not get any homework notes. They didn't know when this would be happening, or what the reward would be. He went on to say that he fully supports the teacher in her decision to reward the kids this way. He also went on to say that throughout life, there are going to be times where certain individuals are rewarded for their hard work, and some will not (insinuating in the "real world", which shouldn't apply at age 10, I'm sorry to say). I felt compelled to advise this person that I have been in the workforce for many years, and I'm fully aware of how rewards and recognition work. I then verbalized the fact that I am dead set against this system the teacher has introduced, and made a suggestion. Perhaps as an alternative, look at the class as a whole, and if, say, 75% of the class has never received a hoemwork note, reward them together. Just a suggestion to ensure everyone is included, and to give them incentive that maybe the next reward level is raised to a higher percentage. If the class meets it, they get pizza. If not, they don't. The principal pretty much told me without actually saying the words that I didn't know what I was talking about, and that my idea was a bad one. He then added to his comments to say that in that type of scenario, there is always going to be that "one kid" who will sabotage this by purposely not doing their homework, and to make sure they are always the one to receive a homework note, just so no one else could be rewarded. I then said to the principal in a case like that, that would indicate there is an underlying problem, and that if this student does that sort of thing, then maybe the parent(s) should be advised that their child is somewhat disruptive, and this is where report cards come into play. The principal agreed that report cards should definitely be based on individual performance. Then it was my turn. I didn't want to go here, but I had to. I said to the principal that what I meant by this was that Kelsey's first report card of the year was much different than it had been in the past, but not in a good way. She had never received such low marks in certain subjects, and when I asked the teacher about this during parent-teachers, the explanation I was given was that she gave everyone that mark because the class as a whole was lacking in these particular subjects, not just Kelsey, and they need room to improve as a class. I then said to the principal that this contradicts this whole "reward" system the teacher has implemented.
At this point, the principal fell silent. The only thing he could say to me was, "I certainly hope that was a miscummunication". I said it wasn't, because this was the only explanation the teacher had for Kelsey's low marks.
He then said that he would clarify this with the teacher, and either he or "madam" would get back to me to discuss it further.
I have no problem with a student of a classroom being rewarded and/or recognized by thier teacher and the students for a job well done. But to divide them into groups of two, reward one group and not the other....I have a problem with this.
problem I have is that the principal didn't back me as a parent for one second. He seems to think that "madam" is doing a fantastic job considering it's her first time teaching. I tend to disagree.
I have one more problem, believe it or not. I think that if the teacher was putting this plan into place, then some sort of communication should have been made with the parents about it at the start of the year. I honestly don't think I'm the only parent who feels this way, and if it had been at least mentioned to us, we would have had the opportunity to voice our opinion about it before the fact, rather than after.
I made this phone call to the school on Thursday. Kelsey told me Thursday evening that her teacher pulled her aside and said she's going to make the pizza lunch up to her because her mom (me) phoned the school and explained the situation behind the homework notes she received. This is NOT why I called the school! I made this very clear at the start of the conversation with the principal...I wasn't calling because "there was a pizza lunch and MY KID didn't get any!!!" I was voicing my concerns as to the effects this may potentially have on the kids who were on the short end of the stick here.
Was it inappropriate for the teacher to tell Kelsey that her mother called the school, or is it just me?
I've never called the school about anything during the 6 years Kelsey has been a student there. I feel so strongly about this, and I feel like I've run into a brick wall. I just don't understand how these teachers and administrators cannot see the harm that they could be doing. I don't know where they think the kids' best interests are a priority in this situation.
Maybe this is my parental overreaction for the decade, but I will stand up for Kelsey and all of the other kids who didn't get pizza the other day.
I didn't hear back from either the principal or the teacher on Thursday or Friday, and at this point, I probably won't. As far as I know, there is another pizza lunch in the works for the kids who don't get any homework notes in the next little while. I hope now they're thinking twice about actually doing it.