Thursday, April 30, 2015

Having zero tolerance for your crap

So, it's the last day of the A-Z blog challenge, and yes, it's been exhausting.  But it's day Z, the day that we're talking about zero tolerance, and by that I don't mean zero tolerance policies which don't work.

Today I want to talk about teacher's zero tolerance policies, specifically, what teachers won't tolerate in their classes.  Most teachers will put up with a lot because they have to. However, each teacher has a button that shouldn't be pushed. You already know that I won't put up with profanity or praising Kanye West.  But my biggest gripe is whiny students.

I tell students not to come and complain to me about their grades, their seats or anything else they just "don't like." I feel that if someone can't change a situation, he or she should shut up about it.  Life isn't about what someone likes or "deserves," and high school is a good time to learn this lesson.  So allow me to show you a situation where I stepped in with my zero tolerance policy.

Chris came up to me after class was over, the day after grades were submitted, and THREE days after I told the class I would no longer take any makeup work, to tell me that he’d tried to do lessons on the virtual tutoring program I said he could use over the weekend, but it wouldn’t work.

“Oh well, I guess you’re out of luck,” I replied.  I knew he was lying.  I don’t think he tried to do anything at all.  This is a kid who sat on one lesson for an entire week and didn’t finish it, a kid who took the work I gave him during the first three weeks and THREW IT AWAY. 

“It’s not fair!  You said I could do lessons and they would count!” he whined.

“You’re right, I did.  But you didn’t do it.”

“It didn’t work!”

“Why didn’t you email me?  You have my email address.” 

He stared at me.  “Because I didn’t think you checked your email over the weekend.”

“But you didn’t bother to try and find out, did you?”

A student who came into my room to get a bus pass heard this and said, “She gets her email on her phone.  She always answers her email.” 

Chris quickly shifted gears.  “This is so stupid, this is the only class I’m failing!”

“Really?” I asked.  I seriously doubted it.  “Let’s look at your grades.”  I pulled open the grading system and logged in.  He had a 63 in my class, a 57 in another, a 70 in one and a 65 in math.  I looked up at him.  “Seems that mine isn’t the only class you’re not doing well in.”

“No, I’m passing all those other ones!  Mrs. Zuma said she’d fix it for me.  Why can’t you fix it for me?”

I folded my arms.  “How about because I don’t want to? How about because you don’t deserve it?  How about because you doing a couple of exercises can’t make up for the fact that you did nothing and threw away work the first three weeks of class?”

Again he stared at me.  “Well, I don’t remember that.”


“Well, I do.  So I fail to see why I should do you a favor and let you pass a class when you show no knowledge of the material, you waste time in class and you disrespect me by complaining about it all.” 

“It’s not fair,” Chris kept repeating.  “It’s not fair.”

“You think so?”  I asked him.  What wasn’t fair to me is that I was listening to him whine, but hey, such is life.

"You're not fair, Ms. Marlowe!"

Now I stared at him. "I think we're done here."

"My mom's going to be so mad at you!"  

"Well, have her give me a call.  I'm sure I can explain it."  I held the door open for him and shook my head when he tried to protest.  "I think we're done here."  He stomped out, then turned and said, "I don't like you."

"Okay," I said.  I don't know why he thought this would hurt.