Why Not Turn It In?

After reading a post by Mrs. Chili regarding the griping of her students when being held accountable for learning, I do have to admit a bit of frustration with one of my classes. Only 19 of my 32 American Literature students bothered to turn in a one-paragraph summary of a short story everyone read.

This is quite a frustration for me since I have been quite intentional preparing this class to do the writing and meeting basic expectations. Despite the grades on the summaries turned in being relatively low, I am more upset that 40% of the students couldn’t find the time to compose 10 sentences.

Unfortunately, I have been out of the classroom quite a bit in the last two weeks with tournaments around the state in three different extra-curriculars. However, I will have no time out of the classroom for the next few weeks, so I will begin conferencing with individual students on Monday. Also, I am giving the second writing, a thesis paragraph, tomorrow.

Other than the number of summaries not turned in, I was also a bit frustrated that the majority of the students who did turn in the assignment did not follow directions. I had a list of approximately 10 questions to answer “yes” to before turning in the summary. The first question states, “Did you double space your summary (whether handwritten or typed)?” Half of the students did not double space. Frustration city!

I guess I need to sit down with each student and begin to decipher why the assignment was not completed or why the directions were not followed. This is part of the reason why class size is such an important factor.

With such a basic assignment, I would expect nothing less than excellence from high school juniors. We will also have to compose another summary because I still need to see the students successfully show the skill, at least the ones who have not done so.


7 thoughts on “Why Not Turn It In?

  1. mrschili

    Isn’t this enough to make you CRAZY?! I’m astounded by what my students WON’T do – they just can’t be bothered. It makes me wonder why they’re even here…

  2. Jim Van Pelt

    I feel your pain. I have an 11th grade comp class where fully 1/2 of them would fail if I gave significant amount of homework. We write essays in class, generally, and even then I have a few who don’t turn in the work. It’s staggering.

    On the other hand, my 10th grade honors classes turn in homework at near 100% efficiency.

  3. ewalker

    I completely agree with you. I bet if you could travel back to the beginning of their school career, it paralleled these same problems. I currently teach Kindergarten, and you would be amazed at the amount of homework that doesn’t get completed. Of course at this age, it is also the parents responsibility to help. It is sad when I get homework packets back where the student tries, but you can tell it was done alone, or with an older sibling. Parents are required to sign one of the pages as proof of completion, as this is a page that can’t be done independently by the student. Many packets come back unsigned and incomplete. Out of 19 students, I average only about 12-15 packets handed in on time each week. I feel that these are the same students that will continue down this path throughout their school career. If it is not made apparent in their home that homework is important, than they will not feel the need to complete it. Then there are those students I spoke of who do it on their own, and obviously as they progress, the work will get impossible to do independently. I think this is a sad statement that these parents are making to their child. “We don’t care, so don’t bother!” There is only so much we can do as educators to help them see the importance of completing work.

  4. ehisel

    I currently teach Kindergarten, and have for the last 6 years. I completely understand how you feel; except for me, the parents are the problem. My students, often times, need help with their homework, but always need help with reading the directions. Out of the eighteen students I have, twelve to fifteen will turn in their homework weekly. Of those students who turn it in, maybe eight will be completed accurately. The rest will have pages missed, pages done inaccurately because the directions weren’t read or followed, or pages that have been done by the parents or a sibling, because the parent don’t “want to be bothered with it.” I am at a loss as to how to get parents to commit to helping their child be successful in all aspects of school. When they are not responsible for completing their homework, then they begin to show a poor work ethic in the classroom. If I have work ethic problems in Kindergarten, imagine what those same students are like when they reach you in high school! Somehow, someway, there has to be a solution for this problem, but I have yet to figure it out:):):)

  5. Kshort

    I teach high school and the problem of work completion just gets worse. You are right, lack of parent envolvement is a big problem. I can call and e-mail home for a week before a project is due and the students still do not turn it in. It is frustrating, but you have to wonder what goes on at home.

  6. Amy Lee

    As a parent of a high school sophomore, I also feel the pain. I have very high standards for my son. He is capable of meeting, and exceeding, the expectations of his teacher. I will nag, redirect, offer assistance as much as I’m able (Chemistry confounds me as much today as it did 25 years ago), enable him to stay after school for tutorials and one on one help with his teachers at least twice each week, sit with him, create a quiet place with few distractions, and I communicate with my in-school advocate on a daily basis. My complaint? My son has seven classes each day. None – not one – NONE of the teachers utilize the tools available to them to give me a heads up about what is coming. I am exhausted by only being able to be reactive, not proactive. The school has a beautiful website where any parent can go see the current grades. On the front page of the grade section is a blog style page where teachers can post notices about anything regarding their class. Each teacher has a webpage that you’re directed to by clicking the teacher name. Of my sons’ 7 teachers, the last teacher webpage update was the first week of school. How am I supposed to help his teachers by holding my son accountable and responsible if I don’t have the tools to do it? I’m not asking for a 2 page breakdown of the current class assignment. How about a three sentence update, once a week? “This week in English, we’ll have a homework packet to the kids on Monday, it’s due on Friday. We’ll be working on an in-class essay, I’ll be available for tutoring after school on Tuesday and Thursday for anyone who needs extra time or help. The essay will be due at the first of class on Friday, when there will also be a quiz over recent topics.” I think that took me all of 40 seconds to type, and now whichever parent cares enough to read it is aware their child has a homework packet that should be checked and that the precious angels should be working on, that there is a quiz coming up, and the parent can be present in their students day by asking “How’s the essay coming along? What’s the subject? What do you know about that? Oh yes! I read that book a hundred years ago for my English class, what do you think of it??” I have one teacher who did not update grades for over 5 weeks, so I had no way of knowing how he was doing, whether he was being respectful to the teacher by completing the tasks, or whether he was being rude and disrespectful by not bothering. He has one class where there was an in class project everyone worked for two weeks on – everyone except my kid, who blew it off and couldn’t be bothered, turned in nothing, received a 0, and is now failing the class. Totally the fault of my kid. But would it have killed the teacher to shoot me an email that said “Major project happening in class, Kid X is not participating and is in danger of failing the assignment.”? – Knowing a lot of parents think their child is nothing if not perfect and all teachers need to work at the level of their child (meaning if their child fails, it must be the fault of the teacher), I completely understand the reluctance of any teacher to reach out to a parent. Fine. Have the disciplinary counselor call me. Have the principal call me. Mail me a letter. Or hey – put a notice up on the online grade book page that says “BIG PROJECT! If your kid fails this, he’ll fail the class!” so I can do my job as a parent from this side. There is no way in the world for me to be an active, involved parent if I don’t know what’s happening until it’s too late. I can kick his butt from here to Tuesday, but that doesn’t fix what’s already done (or not done, as the case may be). I can’t follow up with you if I need more info about whatever you’re doing if I don’t know what you’re doing. I know there are a lot of teachers at a lot of grade levels who DO announce upcoming things – who DO email or call home when little Johnny is not participating in class, or when there is a concern he my not succeed if parents don’t help out. It just so happens, this year, seven out of seven can’t be bothered. It’s too time consuming. There’s not enough positive feedback from parents. There aren’t enough parents who care enough to kick their kids in the seat of the pants and line them out. There is too much arguing from the parents, not enough backing of the teacher or school from the parents. No one bakes cookies or even says Thank You. Well, you’ve got me. That means you’ve got one. I could never be a teacher. Snot nosed, entitled brats and their overstimulated, under-intelligent parents who seem to think you teachers went to college, took out student loans, worked hard to graduate, and often relocated to unfamiliar locales away from friends, family, and personal stability did all this so you as a teacher could pick on their child…. I know you’re not paid enough, I know you don’t always have what you need to do the job you envisioned, and I know there are a lot of people who make a lot of rules and regulations and forms that have to be filled out in triplicate standing between you and your ability to just TEACH. But you’ve got one. You’ve got me. If my kid is reading a book or poking at his phone instead of showing you the respect of paying attention and participating in your classroom, tell me. If there’s a project in the works, tell me. If he never “remembers” to turn his classwork in at the end of the period, tell me. Find a way to tell me. If you want muffins every Monday, tell me. None of you, not one, decided to put yourself through the trouble and cost of education to become a teacher so you could point and laugh while the kids fail. Most of you would tell me, if you can just help ONE kid, it’s all worth it. I want to help my teachers help my kid. Don’t give up on the notifications. If you’re not updating your webpage, if you’re not emailing, if you’re not calling or texting, the one parent out there who gives a damn, who expects their kid to treat you respectfully and to show that respect by following directions, completing assignments, turning things in on time, and accepting your offer of extra help when they need it, who will do as much as they can to back you up and who tries like hell to make sure their kid will grow up to be slightly less of a jerk than little Johnny: That parent can’t help you. I can help. I just need to know what I’m helping with.

    Thank you for reading my book…. Thank you for being a teacher…. Thank you for not killing my kid….. Thank you.


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