Saturday, November 23, 2013

Write 50 Times:"I Will Turn in My Progress Report":Why is This Still Happening?

I was talking to my lil sis the other night, and she told me about an incident she had with my nephew's teacher. Keep in mind two things. One, my nephew is a senior in high school. Two, he is a teacher's dream.:)

It all started when my nephew did not turn in his progress report. When it happens in my classroom I have different ways I handle it. I give the student another day, write a note in their agenda book, email or call the parent, or more than likely, have the student call the parent.

The option chosen by my nephew's teacher,  the high school senior AND a teacher's dream, was to write 50 times, "I will bring in my progress report." He refused.

When he told my sister what happened, she backed his decision. I would have done the same thing. She emailed the teacher. She was polite and respectful,  trying to find out what had happened, and why she thought this was an inappropriate way to handle this situation.

This is part of my sister's email:
     "These students are on their way to college and will have to learn how
     to be responsible on their own. High school usually provides a
     gateway to that growth not a hindrance.

     I appreciate what you do and am in no way challenging your ability to
     teach your classroom, as I said before I like how you take an
     interest in the students. This is specifically in regard to writing
     "I will not..." 50x."

My sister waited a week, no response. Not one to let things go, no "que sera sera" attitude with my sis when it comes to her kids, my sis emailed her again.

This is the teacher's response after the second email:

"Hi Ms._________________,

Yes, what N told you was true.  The progress reports were distributed to
all the students on Thursday of that week.  I asked them to get it signed
and returned the next day.  I gave them until Monday to return it without
penalty and for each day that is was not returned after Monday, students
were expected to write sentences for me during guided study.  This is my
policy and I understand if you do not agree with it.
Yes, he should have turned in his progress report. I also see nothing wrong with having a policy in place when these events occur. But, I have to ask.  Why would a high school teacher use this as a method to develop responsibility? Why would any teacher? It was inane back in whatever time someone thought this up, and it seems even more ridiculous now. What does it accomplish? (And I'm not even going to touch on the fact that during "guided study", a student is writing 50X, "I will bring in my progress report").

All you get out of it is a student with cramped fingers, resentment of the teacher, and possibly sucking the joy out of writing for a lifetime. It sends the message that writing is a mindless act that is not to be enjoyed. Why send that message to your students? And if I'm not mistaken, isn't it seen as a form of corporal punishment?

Watch the opening credits at the beginning of  The Simpsons? Has Bart ever changed? I do realize he is a cartoon character. :)

I have had students write, but not as a punishment. They may have to write down what happened in a situation. Or maybe write what they can do to change a situation. But write 100X, " I will not....." Never!

I am going to write this sentence one time: "I will not make students write the same sentence 100 times because it is not productive!" And I hope you don't either.


  1. The unnecessary nature of the penalty is evident from the fact that the student himself feels it is useless, I suppose. Penalties in school should specifically be aimed at benefiting students in some way.

  2. The penalty was unnecessary. The student himself felt so! Penalties in school should be directly aimed at benefiting students!

  3. I find myself shaking my head in disbelief when I hear about practices such as this. There are many other examples of archaic, harmful practices that need to end. It makes me question our professionalism and professional development.

  4. I shake my head in disbelief when I hear about practices such as this that are archaic and harmful.

  5. Wow can't believe such practices are still out there!

  6. The student is wrong and so is the parent.