jGR and Parents 2

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16 thoughts on “jGR and Parents 2”

  1. I like what you said, Judy, about how the vast majority of teachers and students never go to the bathroom in class. We need to realize that that is true and that most bathroom trips are waltzes down the hall and are done in part, I am certain, to draw attention to the kid leaving the room. I really believe that. That is why in jGR I write each bathroom or water fountain trip down and call the parent when a pattern is visible. This behavior is rude.

    You also said to point out to the parent how important the first ten minutes of class are in establishing the basis for the rest of the class. Great idea. I have, by the way, a standing rule specifially for that reason – and also for the reason of the quiz at the end of class – that a child may go to the bathroom only after the first ten minutes of class and before the last ten minutes of class.

  2. Not being in the situation, or knowing the student, I find it hard to respond. However, since this is such a serious matter, and I, myself, now find my students ‘confused’ about the elusive ‘A’ in jGR, I am going to give my 2 cents.

    This teacher wants practical advice, no? Here is what I think:

    –I would not attempt to address the e-mail point-by-point. This parent might need a creative approach that will potentially disarm them and put the ball back in the teacher’s court.

    –I would not e-mail at all; too much ‘black-and-white’ in which to get caught up, and potentially trapped.

    First, I would talk with my administrators and make sure that they each fully understand the situation and give them a copy of the e-mail, along with a copy of my class expectations and a copy of the rubric. This parent seems really serious, so I would take the e-mail seriously.

    Second, I might call the parent to invite the parent to sit in class with their child. If parent tries to monologue, I might do the broken record thing.

    If parent reacts negatively, then I would ask them directly what they want.

    Then….I would hold my breath and see if the parent really wants a fight or if they just want to be heard. If they want to fight for an ‘A’, then I would refer them to administration IF I have a trusting relationship with my admin. If I don’t have a trusting relationship with admin, I, Leigh Anne Munoz, would consider some acceptable form of capitulation. That is me. Others here may fight better than I do. Acceptable forms of capitulation include coming in to see me, helping me in class, helping me outside of class, reading aloud to another student, writing me letters in English and French about whatever, drawing pictures, singing songs in class (id est: something that continues to place the student out of their comfort zone.)

    Again, not being in the situation, I find it impossible to imagine every possible parent response and every possible outcome.

    If parent just wants to be heard, they can talk my ear off, and the conversation is technically ‘off the record.”

    What do other people think? This is a fascinating thread, and I may be in the same boat with a similar parent in January, when our students’ GPAs are calculated. 🙂

  3. Well, we can look at the bright side of this exchange, and that is that it seems the parent is on board with CI methodology! She comes off as a very articulate person, perhaps a teacher?

    By the way Jeff, how many students are in that class? It sounds like you have a big load, and if that’s the case, maybe you could request an admin comes in and grades the jGR for a day or two or a week based on the rubric (check for David Scegel’s participation rubric on this site). That way you are teaching, they are looking at the components of the grade, and that’s that. Nobody has to know what the admin is doing. And you don’t have to share this plan with the parent either. Admins observe teachers. Find one that is cool, and open to different ways of doing things (if you have a selection). Just an idea, which might be more of a hassle setting up than not.

    Otherwise, I agree with Judy, you have to get this woman some clarification on these instances of grade confusion. She will play til she wins. Cover your bases.

    Also, you may want to consider having students grade their own or grade a different students’ quiz. This will save you time at the scantron machine. And this way, you can also ask questions beyond yes/no questions. A sheet of paper, 5 or 10 questions. Red pens passed out before quiz is started. Students grade them (their own quiz, or collect quizzes and give each row to a different row to grade, or whatever, and have them put the “checked by: ” at the bottom so that you can prevent dishonesty. But this can be hard with a class of more than 30 students.

    Best of luck!

    1. Jeffery Brickler


      I love this idea of having an admin do the JGR. I have the perfect person. A woman who is our team leader at the middle school and trained as an admin. I trust and like her. I will definitely ask her to come in to help.


      I have 3 of my 6 classes that are 30 students or more. Very difficult. I’m only want to do a good job. You’d think I was the devil.

  4. And in some states (N.Y. included) it is illegal for students to grade other students’ papers. (violation of privacy)

    My suggestion would be to quickly type up the questions and answers (or just the answers which would save a TON of time) at the end of the day. Copy and paste so that you have several copies on one sheet. You can fit 4-5 copies of it on one sheet of paper. Print off a few and you have one for everyone in the class. Hand the sheets back with the quizzes. They will have the questions/answers and their answers to refer to if necessary.

    As for the rubric, if you are going to use it, you have to be ready to back it up. Her criticism is not about you, it is about what the grade says about her child. Remind her that you care about her child, that you recognize the child’s areas of strength, and that the reason that her child is scoring in the 90’s is because you are enforcing the behavior in the rubric, therefore the child is acquiring language. When you no longer have to remind the child of the appropriate behavior, then the rubric grade, and the quiz grades will both go up.

    Point out that this is the type of evidence that coaches look for in their top players. The players that DEMONSTRATE a positive attitude, interest, and a willingness to participate become the better-skilled players AND are rewarded by more playing time. More playing time also helps them become better players. Language students who DEMONSTRATE a positive attitude, interest and a willingness to participate become the better-skilled students AND are rewarded by more interaction in the language. More interaction helps them to acquire more language.

    From a teacher’s perspective: Students who are more reserved are at a disadvantage with this rubric IF you are somehow counting how many times a student raises his/her hand. However, reserved students actually benefit from the fact that there is encouragement for group participation, where they are allowed and encouraged to participate with the group, and not on their own in front of an audience.

    From a student’s/parent’s perspective. Students who are reserved are being punished for just being introverted. It takes ENORMOUS courage to take even the small steps required to do gestures or respond vocally even with a group. The anxiety generated by having to physically participate can completely shut them down. This is even more difficult if the student does not have friends in the class.

    My suggestion would be to offer a middle road for a truly reserved student. Be specific. Sitting up straight, making eye contact and mouthing answers in a group response or doing gestures in a very small way will suffice for this marking period and are certainly not too much to accept. At the end of the marking period you will renegotiate what will be acceptable. By that time, the student’s confidence will have grown, you will have established some trust and there should be an opening for more visual and verbal interaction.

    It is entirely possible that this student, and particularly this parent, are simply oppositional. Regardless of the line that you draw, they will attempt to redraw it. They like to, or are used to, calling the shots. With everyone. This is just one stop on a long track of running their train over everyone in sight. My advice is to be gentle, but firm. This works. You know it. It isn’t personal. It is designed not only to have students acquire more language, but also develop habits that will benefit them (now and) later in life. Quietly state that the child’s rubric grade does not identify the child’s worth, simply her actions. The actions that you are requesting are necessary for acquisition and not difficult for students to achieve.

    It is so hard NOT to take these things personally. But, if you can…tell yourself over and over and over again that their response is not about you. It is about them and their need to control. If they can involve your emotions, they will. That is how they get control.

    From time to time we ALL have these folks in our lives. The last time it happened to me it was a colleague in my own building that challenged me. She went up the entire chain of command and went so far as to write to the Superintendent and to publicly criticize me at a school board meeting. Several years later I found out that at that time both of her brothers were near death after long struggles with cancer, she was facing financial challenges, and several other issues were going on in her life. It didn’t make her attack right…but it did make it easier to understand why she was so determined to get something under her control.

    Hugs and support and love,

        1. That may be true, however, that doesn’t mean that it won’t be a fight if you use it in your classroom. Choose carefully and present it carefully and with great forethought. You don’t want something else to have to defend.

          with love,

          1. …students who are more reserved are at a disadvantage with this rubric IF you are somehow counting how many times a student raises his/her hand….

            This is of major importance. I find that I can give a 4 or 4.5 (9) to the very quiet child who, having bought into jGR fully and who is glued to every word, constantly makes the stop sign, and even occasionally says a chunk of words out to me but whispered bc she is shy. We CAN’T count how many times a student does anything. jGR is a qualitative, not quantitative, instrument.

    1. Jeffery Brickler


      Yes. I take it personal. I know I shouldn’t. It’s not that I don’t understand that fact, but I have always struggled to do that.

      These comments are so much help. I can process better now. I must admit that I am still feeling attacked a bit. It seems that there are things I can improve upon and while I always know I can do this, it upsets me. I want to be doing a good job. This kind of failure bothers me tremendously.

      Nevertheless, all the comments are great help.


      1. This is NOT a failure. This is a parent who does not understand this new process and an opportunity for you to clarify it…for yourself, for your students and for this parent. The “easiest” way to come to this conclusion is to say Thank You to the universe for the bump in the road that this has cause. Thank you for the time to stop and think. Thank you for the opportunity to connect with a parent. Thank you for a parent that actually pays attention. Thank you for a way to connect with a loving group of colleagues. Thank you for a loving group of colleagues. Thank you for a chance to become a better teacher and person that you could have ever been without the bump in the road. Even Thank You for the chance to be humble. We humans aren’t always good at that…mostly because we use our egos to cover up our fear of not being good enough. You are MORE than good enough…and always will be. Trust me on this. Tell your ego that you appreciate it’s support, but that your inner self is loved and cared for and willing to grow and learn. Humility is not a weakness…it is a strength. As is vulnerability. Without them we cannot truly connect with other human beings. Your vulnerability and humility in this situation have helped us all.

        with love,

        1. Jeff I agree fully with Laurie on this. And you may not be at a place in your career where you can accept what she says. Nevertheless, her description of this as a bump in the road of your teaching but a necessary bump, from which only good things will emerge, is absolutely true. You couldn’t possibly grow without this kind of thing happening.

          I wonder who in this group is next. Because this situation WILL resolve, and most probably enhance your reputation in the building because you just happen to have truth on your side, and somebody else following this thread WILL be exactly where you are now and we will come forth with more group hugs for that person.

          This is the way of real growth in anything. The traditional teachers who reject what we do without really thinking about it can be said to be afraid of growing. You and all the other Latin teachers, especially, if you think about the magnitude of what THEY are doing compared to us, are stepping up to the plate and swinging hard. So what if you strike out a few times? You are in uniform and at the plate.

          I’ve struck out so many times. I’ve felt so alone so many times, like a freak. It was like – for a quarter of a century – I would say stuff at meetings that people literally couldn’t hear and I felt stupid, like a bad teacher.

          Laurie and I have well almost 60 years of teaching between us. Listen to us. Feel like a biscuit, feel like a failure, and then get over yourself and contact these parents in a loving way and take the consequences. They won’t be as nearly bad as you might want to think now.

          I know this to be true about younger teachers (less than 20 years) – you will never get until later – in terms of language acquisition – how truly stupid the people like these parents and may administrators are. If you got that, you wouldn’t be worried as you are now.

        2. Yes, Laurie — I also THANK Jeff for his “bump in the road” because it causes me to also reflect on MY teaching practices!!!
          YOu see, Jeff. we ALL go through bumps, it just takes a special person to bring it to the attention of all so everyone has an opportunity for self-reflection and learning.
          Thank you! (I tell my kids everyday..”We learn from our mistakes. Let your peers make mistakes without passing judgment; otherwise they will not learn, and neither will you!) I too am a perfectionist – I have learned to curb it though in the past 5 years of teaching (especially in the past year since I have been a CI teacher!) When I was in teacher training, one of my professors told me that I am in the wrong profession if I am a perfectionist, and did I expect all my students to be perfect too?

  5. Re: Grading…..If it is illegal in your state for the students to grade each other, then you can 1. assign them numbers to put on their tests instead of their names.
    2. have them put away the instrument (I make them do work for me using either pencil or dark blue/black ink. If they use anything else, they automatically get a “0”. Harsh? tough! in real life they have to fill out forms with those instruments too – and it makes it easier to grade) they wrote their test with, and hand out red pens that you decorate with big plastic flowers (use florist tape to attach them to the top of the pens, so they are big and floppy and you can see that they are all using the flower pens) and have them grade their own quizzes. this way, they will not have the means to sneak and change their answers.
    Re: Rubric/Participation grade…..David’s rubric is great, and someone else posted a Participation Grade “form”, also, there is a self-reflection checklist on here somewhere too. Have the students grade themselves for one or two weeks, and then have consultations with them, so they are clear on what you expect.
    Re: Bathroom policy……HOGWASH on the parent! Like Judy said, NO teacher gets to go during class. The students can go during passing time — I still have students ask to go during class, and when they do, I ask them to write their name on the board, as I am writing out their pass, and remind them that when they ask to go, they are disturbing the flow of the class bc they are asking me to STOP the class and write them out a pass — it is an inconvenience for ALL. (I write names on the board whether they do something like this, or go above and beyond — I’ll remember later, it just helps to quickly write it on the board — one of my boards is always covered with lots of stuff – kids draw on it before class starts and write notes on it, etc. so the names do not stand out – so no issue of “highlighting” a student being ‘bad’.)
    Re: jGR et.al. …….I had the kids grade themselves on this for a week, but unlike the consultation I mentioned above, I then sent that home with the student along with jGR, the classroom rules, and the student checklist. They had to discuss it all with their parents, and the parents had to sign one of the forms saying that they understood how their child was being graded for Interpersonal Skills. (I think I have it as 25% of the grade — Interpretive is also 25%)

    1. Jeffery Brickler

      Yes, there is definitely some stuff here. I have to change some things, namely quizzes and how they are done and how I assign percentages. This is so much to process. Thanks everyone. Keep it coming.

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