We had several incidents at school today that prompted me to use the phrase "Signs of the Apocalypse." (By the way, I have YET to type the word "apocalypse" correctly the first time, so it is with a great deal of aggravation that I continue along this theme.) I'm not sure I'm covering them in the order in which they occurred chronologically, but you won't really know the difference, will you?
Sign of the Apocalypse #1 - We had a parent conference scheduled for this afternoon with the parents of a young lady who has missed 8 or 9 out of the last 17 school days. She's very smart, but school isn't her top priority. Her absences tend to coincide with those of her boyfriend. Hmmmmm.... I'm sure that's just happenstance. Anyway, one of our team members called the father to schedule the conference, and the young woman protested that we had no business contacting her parents (with whom she still lives and who, I'm guessing, still provide most of her upkeep, not the least of which must be an astronomical clothing and shoe bill) because she is 18 years old. Had she told me that, I would have laughed RIGHT. IN. HER. FACE. Turns out, due to the new FRPA law (Families' Right to Privacy Act), she is correct. Word came from our superintendent that we may be in violation of the law if we reveal anything to her parents without her consent. WHAT??? Are you KIDDING me? What has our society descended to? (You don't have to answer those rhetorical questions. I'm speechless myself.)
By the way, that's probably the best of the bunch, and I know enough about writing that I'm not supposed to start off with my strongest point, but if you're just tired of my belly-aching about students, don't feel obligated to read any more. Carry on.
Sign of the Apocalypse #2 - One of my students is a young lady who is very diligent about writing down all her quiz questions and thoughtfully highlighting the ones she would like for me to give her the answer to. Since she's already TAKEN the quiz twice at the point she does this, I don't have a huge problem with it. It's more than some of our students are willing to do. Some of them want us to show them the ones they missed and then give a passing grade based on the fact that's what they would like to have. The young lady in question this morning caught me in the middle of a Monday morning bout of grumpiness, however. The first question she had highlighted was about "Gulliver's Travels," something about it means when the prince of Brobdingnag asks Gulliver something blah blah blah blah.
In order to prompt her into coming up with the correct answer herself, I asked, "Well, what DID the prince say when Gulliver brought him the ships?"
Blank stare. I narrowed my eyes at her. "Did you even READ the story?"
"Well, not ALL of it," she retorted indignantly. "Have you SEEN how LONG it is?"
Sign of the Apocalypse #3 - We have a young man who is a sad case. At least if one is inclined to believe ALL of his sad stories, which I am not. SOME PEOPLE are more easily fooled than I and have bent over backward to accommodate him. Need to leave at 2:00 every day to pick up a brother/nephew/cousin from school on time because you're the only one available to do it? No problem. Need to leave in the middle of standardized testing because you've had YET ANOTHER family member die suddenly? (This one burned me up....reportedly a 4-year-old, and he called her a niece one time and a cousin another.) Need to arrive at school every day around 10:00 because our schedule simply doesn't match yours? Hey, just come in when you can!
We had a meeting with this student today regarding his progress (none) in most of his classes. The ones he hasn't officially abandoned, that is. One of our team members felt obligated to point out that things posted on Facebook often become public, and the day he had the emergency during testing, he had posted something along the lines of, "Woo hoo! I'm free! Happy birthday to me!" We were trying to make the point that his FB post did NOT sound like someone who was so overcome by grief that he sobbed and had to leave during testing. His response when we confronted him with the discrepancy? He snorted. HE SNORTED!!! And he said, "Well OF COURSE I'm not coming to school on my birthday." That's when I threw up my hands and said, "I'm done here" and left before I could do something that would cause me to be arrested or lose my job.
And I promise, there's only one more.
Sign of the Apocalypse #4 - Another young man has been to school 4 days this semester. Four. Since January 5th. He is trying to graduate a whole year early (but his trying only comes in spurts), and I believe there really is a hardship in his situation. I don't know his entire background, but he has lots of support personnel both at his home school and with us. We have gone above and beyond to help him. I'm not complaining about that; that's what we're there for, the students at risk for dropping out. It's hard not to like him. He's very polite and well-mannered, and he has a habit of asking for test and quiz retakes if he makes a 90. (For some reason I find that slightly annoying, but I swallow my irritation and try not to let it show.) He showed up today and waited politely while I finished a personal conversation with a co-worker (hey, it WAS still before school, and we DON'T have planning periods) and asked, "Is this still my first period?" I responded, "Yes, if you're still on roll." It was mean, but I couldn't help myself. He just waltzes in without a word of explanation and wants to pick up where he left off?
We had a meeting with him later to address his attendance/graduation situation. He is down needing only about 3 classes, and his response was something along the lines that he knew he could show up in March and finish if he needed to. That kind of irked me. We're flexible, but we like for our students at least to PRETEND to follow a prescribed schedule. We were trying to determine the cause of his lackadaisical (isn't THAT a cool word?) attitude toward school, and someone asked if he had a job. He responded, "I did, but I lost my job. That's why I came back to school." And he chuckled. CHUCKLED! That irked me too! I realize he has a true hardship and more than likely needs that job badly, but he made it sound like he was DOING US A FAVOR by coming back to school. (Forgive me for yelling...I get carried away.) He said he couldn't come to school for a while because "a bunch of things happened." His "bunch of things" included losing a friend, another friend "getting married" (can't figure out why that's tragic and what it has to do with him, but whatever), getting his first car, and needing insurance.
And y'all, this wasn't even a BAD day. Just a somewhat NORMAL day.
Forget Fridays off. Perhaps I need to start taking Mondays off.