Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Student Responsibility

Since I was out yesterday, I returned to find that I did not have the best substitute. He wasn't bad, he just did what he was paid to do - babysit. Since he felt his main job was babysitting, he didn't put much effort into making sure that students were doing their work. He reminded them a couple times to do their work and told them how much it was worth, but he didn't walk around to check on their progress.

I'm not begrudging the substitute. It's not his job to make sure that students pass. It's likely he'll never see them again. Hell, he even made sure that they cleaned my room, which is also a valuable lesson. Today I reminded students of how many points the assignment was worth and that failure to complete the assignment dropped many of their grades significantly. That was when the protests started.

"He let us do whatever we want! I was texting in class yesterday! Not doing the work!"

"He didn't make sure I did the work!"

"He only told me to do the work once!"

"He was a push over!"

"IT WAS A SUB DAY!!!!!!"

Sorry. You're still responsible for your grade. This is a problem that is plaguing a lot of students. They just don't feel responsible for their grades. It's someone else's fault if they fail. My kids that received zeros on yesterday's work aren't to blame. It's the stupid substitute who let them do whatever they wanted! However, they fail to realize that there's no reason for a substitute to care about the grades students receive. Sure, I care about their grades, but that's only because I care about them as individual people, not because the grades affect me.

This problem also reaches into normal school work.

"I got a zero on that because you wouldn't let me turn it in late!"

"I would have done it, but you forgot to remind me!"

"Why did you give me a D?"

Give you a D? I didn't give you anything. You earned a D. I'm constantly having to remind students that I'm not their mother and it's not my place to remind them to do their homework. Sure, I'll remind them at the end of class that there's homework due the next day, but I'm not sure what else I'm supposed to do to make sure they do their work.

I'm not sure where or when this attitude began, but I don't remember acting like my actions were the fault of someone else after the age of seven or so. Regardless of how easy the sub is, that doesn't make it okay to completely blow off your work. Today my students had to learn the lesson that their actions have consequences and sometimes they won't like those consequences. And frankly? They have no one to blame but themselves.

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