Note: I changed the title of this post from “teacher excuses” to our excuses. This is about everyone in our educational system and our tolerance for failures and various excuses for it.
Before I upset anyone, there is a reasonable number of students who may fail a class for a number of reasons. Poor attendance is an obvious one. I can even subscribe to the idea of a “nonintentional” learner. But that should be a small number of students -maybe one or two per class.
I’m talking about our excuses when many in the class fail. Here goes:
I can’t teach them if they don’t care about my class.
They didn’t do any of the work and I can’t fix “lazy”.
I don’t have enough time to cover the material for students that didn’t understand it the first time.
That student has put forth any effort for my class so why should I give them an extra opportunity to complete _____ assignment.
This is the problem with our society: no student should fail and everybody gets an a. I am protecting high standards and traditional values by failing so many students.
The student has an IEP and statistically they should perform at a much lower level than their peers.
I can’t be blamed for the students lack of ability in prerequisite content-they should never have been placed in my class.
You can’t expect me to drop everything to help students that didn’t learn – I have content to cover.
You know THAT family and THOSE kids – they’re a difficult bunch.
I did my part, they didn’t do their’s.
Yuck! When I hear those kinds of comments, I get sick to my stomach. I think WE share the responsibility for the grade. I think WE also should exercise our own professional judgment to make grading decisions for kids in a positive way. We have no problem using our professional judgment to downgrade students-why can’t we use it to upgrade students or at least give a little grace/forgiveness when students do things that are immature, irresponsible, shortsighted, or self-destructive.
An “F” really represents a greater demand for systemic support. If a student existed in my class for an entire semester and they never received the additional support then I have to reflect on that and realize this was an opportunity that they missed but also a responsibility that I missed.