September 12, 2008

Thank You for Your Input

One of my student's parents left a comment with her signature on my course expectations this week. She took offense to my usage of the word insubordination. Uhm. Okay. I have to admit that I was rather strong with my word choice when I wrote that students who did not turn in work would be considered insubordinate. I went on to explain in the expectations that insubordination is the student's failure to follow the teacher's directions.

Again, maybe a stretch, but it truly seems that students who don't turn in their work are indeed rebelling against authority. Sometimes it looks like laziness; however, laziness does not seem to be a big issue for some parents. "Oh, my student is just lazy." You've heard that, right? Like it's an illness that should be excused. Give the kid a 504 Plan! So, I'm going for a bigger punch.

To me, what 90% of the not-turning-in-work issue boils down to is that the students feel like they can do whatever they want--despite what they have been told to do by the school authority who is charged with teaching them to learn each day. Call it educational jargon, but that's insubordination.

Many of my students start their work and never finish because they get distracted by...who knows changes minute to minute. But we all have those students for whom we can physically place a pencil in their hands and a paper in front of them, and they will do every except the learning task asked of them.

And what happens to students who are doing everything except what they're asked to do, that is, students who are off task? They often become behavioral problems. Who wants to be the parent of a behavioral problem who is disrupting class? Even better, who wants their students in classes where the behavioral problems are causing their students' learning to be interrupted?

Frankly, these insubordinate students who won't do their work aren't helping themselves on the Big Mandated Tests either. It's pretty hard to grow and learn without doing the practice prescribed by the teacher. Judge us not, parents, when your child's school does not meet AYP and you wonder if the school is providing a quality education. We have difficulty enough getting the students to mind us and do their work.

My rant may not justify my strong choice of words for students who won't/don't turn in their work. I'm wondering if others sometimes use words that don't quite fit right for the purpose. For example, why would my choice of words in this instance offend someone?

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