Today I submitted all my paperwork and
Kids in upper secondary can miss 50% or more of their classes, fail all their tests and not submit any work throughout the year. It is expected of the teacher and the teacher’s assistant to give this student extra work to attain a passing grade. So the teacher is meant to go out of their way, chase the kid and wipe their ass so they can get a passing mark, bullshit to that I say.
I never want to have a student not pass my class. Students that are weak are taken aside, parents are called and then ways of improving the student’s English ability is offered to the parents. I always try to involve the parents so that they monitor their child and make sure they are trying to improve.
Sometimes this works wonders and the student improves leaps and bounds. Other times the student makes no improvement and the parents are again called in for a meeting to discuss what they are doing at home to help there child. Some parents sadly believe it is entirely the teacher’s responsibility to do everything for their kid.
Anyway I could go on and on. So today some of the pen pushers were not happy with the grades I had given, I couldn’t care less what they thought as they don’t stand in my classroom and teach the students 5 days a week. They don’t see the effort being made or not, they don’t know if the student can read a word or a sentence. They don’t know if the student participates in class activities and so forth. So where do they get of telling me that I have to pass a student they no nothing about.
I asked this question, “Why do the students have to be passed?”
The answer was, because it looks bad to the public. I was lost for words. Having a few students with low scores and this score going to the main educational office is seen as an embarrassment to the school apparently.
In the end I feel sorry for the student, as they need help. The school sadly wants this to be overlooked so everything looks fine and dandy on paper. The parents go on believing that little Johnny is just passing but in reality he could be failing miserably.
If I was a parent, I would want to know that my child had problems and what they were so I could help improve them or get help so that they can reach an acceptable level to achieve a pass. Wouldn’t everyone be like this?
And to top it all off, it was explained to me that I should apparently be giving the student extra work (already do this), helping them out in my lunchtime or after school (don’t do this as I am not insane and have a life outside of the school), keep an official record of all the things I have done to help the student and also records of the meetings (no one ever told me there was a sheet for this, but I have copy of letters sent to parents asking them to meet with me).
So apparently it is entirely my, the teacher's responsibility and no one else’s (say the parents) that the students pass. So I have called a meeting with every student that hasn’t passed my class, I am making a list of the problems for each student and possible ways to improve the student. I will also inform them of their true or real score or grade and that the school is giving them the false grade so they obtain a pass mark and this is done so that everything looks great on paper and the school’s nose is still straight with the local education office.
And just through luck today, a parent with one of the students, who hasn’t passed was at the school. An impromptu meeting was made (spoken to her before) and we sat down for a good reality check. All his exams were pulled out, his problems were laid on the table and ways to try and improve his grades were offered. The mother was really nice and it didn’t surprise me when she said that he was lazy at home just like in class. This was reinforced in all his subject grades and comments from teachers.
His mother explained she had bought a 30,000 Baht learning English set a little while again but he had never really used it. So she had made some effort to try and help him but this is not what he needs.
He is in primary 5 or ten years old. His English ability is that of a primary 2 student or a seven year old. He needs to start at the very basics and build his vocabulary as now this is virtually zero. He reads basic words as ‘in, the, a, an.’ but to read, “Hello, my name is Adam. I am ten years old.” He would probably read is, am, I, but the other words would be a challenge and the reading is really laboured.
He has a big road ahead of him and lots of work to do. He only came into the programme this year, so maybe he had never studied with a native speaker before. It would have been a massive leap into the deep end of a swimming pool and sadly he couldn’t swim and has fallen further behind.
I know that back when I was ten, over 20 years ago, if a teacher told my parents I wasn’t towing the line I would have been given a very stern warning and if it happened again for sure would have had the strap across my butt. But it smartened you up. Didn’t most of us get a good old reminder in those days to wisen up? This is the problem today for me, parenting is too soft and kids just walk over parents. That’s my view.
Look I could jump through hoops, say ‘yes’ to everything and so forth but this isn’t me. My only concern is for my students. They come first, before the school’s status, not what some people sitting in the education department might think at the sight of a fail mark.
If the student has a problem the parent needs to be made aware of this, they need to help them improve; they need to become involved in their education. I am not going to be one of the majority (99.99%) that just write in the passing grade and go on holidays leaving a child with a problem that isn’t going to be addressed. That isn’t me, never will be.
Maybe I am wrong; maybe I am blind and just too blinkered and it is better to tell little lies so everyone is happy, no ripples are caused on the water and life goes on smoothly for all. Should I really care? Not my child, not my money, not my child’s future, or you can say ‘not my problem.’ No, can’t do that. That’s not me..
What do you think? Am I being unreasonable? Should I just pass these kids and forget about it all?