Tuesday, February 9, 2010

When good teachers go bad and try to go good again

One of my coworkers forwarded me this email he and his wife received from their son's teacher. It was sent to 7 or 8 parents, indicating this problem was a classroom epidemic of mass proportions and not just a single individual. I found it intriguing to say the very least. I have to wonder what really happened that day to make this woman go completely insane. Or if she has a liquor cabinet. Or if it was just one too many tests without a name that put her over the edge.


*Please note the names have been changed to protect the innocent and possibly save someone from potential further embarassment.

Hello Parents;

Well, here I sit going through the giant unit 8 math tests at 5:30 in the evening and I’m sorry to say that your student forgot, yet again, to put their name on their test.

Here were my instructions…

Point your pencil in the air, put your pencil where it says name, write your name… do you have your name on your paper, put your name there now your name…, check again…, this is an important test!!! Ask them what I said and check. I will ask the class on Monday.

I can’t make it any easier than this and I am now taking out another chunk of my time that I don’t have to call and email parents about this problem.

This is a constant problem and I am now out of tricks to solve it. Look at your neighbor’s paper… did they put their name on their paper, put your finger on where you wrote your name, if it isn’t there, put it there now…, hold your paper up in the air, look at where you wrote your name… if it isn’t there, write it now?????????? $%&*#%$&*(%$%^&@#$#^&$%^&Y!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(Find my safe warm island in my mind… ohmmm, ohmmm.)

These student are going into 5th grade soon and still can’t do a 1st grade function. Can I get a little help here? I am a bit upset right now and I apologize. This is 100 points worth of “0” in my grade book!!!!!! (After all that hard work they did!)

Should I slow the whole class down and let them take the test again?(and my recess & lunch time?) Should I just let it be a ‘0’ in my book? We are behind the other 4th grades and we need to move forward, but I need to know that my students ‘get’ this stuff.

I guess what I’m asking is, what would you like me to do about this problem?


[Teacher Gone Bad]

The highlighted text was actually part of the original format of the email. I didn't alter that. I'm baffled as to why she felt it necessary to highlight THOSE particular parts of the email. Was she hoping in doing so she really WOULD find her happy place? Or that the parents receiving this email might actually take it seriously (despite the intoxicated tone) once she asked "for a little help"? I think it goes without saying that the explicit symbols inserted for cursing is the perfect way to get your point across to the parents of 9 and 10 yr. olds. Don't you?

So my co-worker's wife responded with what I think was a completely resonable and calm tone. Even though she wanted to rant back, she kept it together while getting her own point across about what the teacher was expecting her to take away from all that blabbering. Did she actually WANT suggestions or help or was she merely having a meltdown via email?

I'm pretty sure I would have responded like this:


She included the words "apoligze if [coworker's spawn] left his name off...what is it you are wanting us to do" as well as "very unprofessional...not constructive....after you calmed down" in her response. Which is probably how I would have responded. You know, after I stopped laughing.

Then came the follow up email from the teacher. I think she may have fallen on her butt she was back peddling so fast. No doubt this reponse from the teacher was initiated from the words "very unprofessional".

Dear [Cheri's Coworker and his wife],

I am so sorry if I offended you in any way. I will try to be more professional in the future with Emails. I am a bit challenged when it comes to this technology and tried to save time instead of making several phone calls. It was a bad teacher move on my part and I sincerely apologize. I will go back to the phone method of which is more personal and promotes better communication.

[Coworker spawn] is such a good student and a good citizen in our class. He has gotten better about putting his name on his papers and staying organized. He is one of those kids I get attached to and love his ways of thinking. I wanted to make you aware of this mistake so that you knew and were in the loop.

I tend to care too much & get too attached to these kids and when something big like this happens, it breaks my heart.

You’re right… I shouldn’t take it personally and it is my job not to get emotional about these things, but it is hard. I usually can’t wait to grade tests like these so I can do the ‘teacher dance’ when I see personal & over all improvement. Most of the time I’m at home grading these and can only high five the cat of which she will have nothing to do with. It is hard to curve my feelings of excitement over big improvements.

I believe on Monday I will talk to the students about the problem and empower them to come up with a solution this time. Maybe if they decide on an idea or ideas, it won’t happen again. I just can’t drop this grade because, well they worked too hard on it. I see no point in them taking it again because we need to move on.

I also think it would be a good time to review their classroom rules and have them decide if we need to change a few of them. (I honestly think the kids are too hard on themselves.)

Again, I am sorry for my error. I guess I need to make sure my ‘Mom shoes’ aren’t around when I’m grading papers. These kids already have great parents and you truly are a good example for [Coworker's spawn].

I hope school is going well for you

Thank you for you response.


[Teacher Gone Bad]
Cell – 8675-3-0h-Ni-ee-ine

I used to work for a wonderful program called BTSA (Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment) through a county office of education. It pairs 1st and 2nd year teachers with a mentor. You know, to give the new teachers confidence while they find their way in a career while 25+ youngsters hang on their every word.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say this teacher might not be a candidate for a mentor. What do you think?


  1. Wow. Is there a reason she couldn't walk around the class and look at their tests as their working to see if the name is there? She could even penalize those right then and there that didn't do it AND SHE COULD PUT THEIR NAMES ON THE TESTS!!! Maybe she needs to get off her island.

  2. I don't think calling a student out in class for something so simple as putting your name on your test would be a good thing either. This can result in torment from other students. In 4th grade this ritual should be engrained. Although the email was not professional, she did the right thing by making the parents aware of the problem.

  3. I used to not put a grade on the papers, call them up to my desk and have them identify theirs. Then I let them know the grade-minus 10 points for leaving off the name. I explained to the kids that it is important to get used to writing their names on things, because as they grow up they'll need to sign things. They wouldn't want their boss to forget to sign his/her name on their paycheck, so they need to practice in case they end up being the boss. It wasn't a perfect way to get names on papers, but it helped. This teacher is either close to burnout or just way overworked.

  4. When something "big" like forgetting to put your name on a test happens. That is something "big"? Seriously? It's February. If you can't recognize the kids' writing and not throw a hissy fit you have issues.

    And I love that she "high-fives" her cat. ROFL! Man, this lady needs a social life, for real.

    Thanks for the laugh Cheri!

  5. Hey -- you won the chipboard daisy mini album on my blog! Pls email me at jennifer[dot]my3sons[at]gmail.com with your address and I'll get it out to you this week. Thanks!

  6. I'm at a loss for words. It may be because I teach high school, but if kids not putting their names on test papers was the worst thing that happened to me, I would be doing a happy dance all over the school.

  7. oh dear heavens. That's just bad. I would've forwarded that email to the principal. My 5th graders forgot to put their name on their paper more than my 1st graders do.

  8. Is it wrong that I lollered and agreed with the teacher?

  9. All I can say is that I'd be hitting the liquor cabinet by 5:30 if I were a teacher too. I wouldn't be responsible for anything I emailed after that point either..... guess that's why I wasn't a teacher....


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