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Angelo Angelo is offline
 
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Not Responding to the Same Question
Old 11-07-2016, 06:40 PM
 
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I got a complaint (albeit mildly worded) from a parent. She says her son told her I ignore him in class and don't respond to his questions. When he messages me, he frequently gets a delayed response or none at all.

Yup. Perfectly true. Why? He keeps asking me the SAME QUESTION over and over, apparently thinking if he keeps asking, he'll get a response he likes better than my first response. Sometimes, he tries to re-frame the question or ask it in a slightly different way. Sometimes he tries to trick me into changing my response by offering some sort of false equivalency. He's not the only one who does this, to be sure, but I'm not wasting my (or my instructional) time responding to the same question over and over.

Student: Sir, it says 500 words maximum.
Me: Correct.
Student: Mine is 950 words.
Me: 950? That's more than 500.
Student: So... uh... is that okay?
Me: No. 500 words is the maximum.
Student: Okay, but I already went through and tried to cut it down.
Me: Keep trying. 500 words maximum.

*I go back to what I'm doing -- taking attendance or handing out papers or whatever -- student stays standing directly beside me and gives no indication he will sit down*

Me: Take your seat please, Marcus. We're getting started.
Student: Okay... um.... but about my report...
Me: *raised eyebrows*
Student: How much can it be over 500 words?
Me: It can't. That's what maximum means.
Student: But... ummm... what happens if it's over 500 words?
Me: You'll lose marks. Part of the assignment is responding to the prompt in the prescribed space.
Student: But you can't actually take off marks.
*Student is following me as I'm continuing to hand out papers*
Me: That's incorrect.
Student: What is?
Me: I can take off marks.
Student: I read the rubric. There's nothing in it that says marks are docked for going over.
Me: I've read it, too. And yes, there is.
Student: Where?
Me: This conversation has run its course, Marcus. When I'm done handing these out, you need to be in your seat, and that will be in about 15 seconds.
Student: But I'm asking you a question. Where does it say that in the rubric?
Me: Seat, Marcus.
Student: Seriously... I have the rubric. How many marks will you take off?
Me: Good morning, everyone. In front of you, you have the study notes for-
Marcus: I asked you a question.
Me: Asked and answered, Marcus. Please stop interrupting.

Then he'll e-mail me the same question at 3:30 and again at 8:30 p.m. and claim I'm being rude by not responding.

Mom says the problem is that Marcus thinks things like word counts and deadlines are arbitrary, and he has a hard time with rules whose rationale isn't explained to his satisfaction. She says, "He will attend to the word count, but only if you explain in clear terms why the word limit is so important and why it's part of the assignment. If you just say, 'because I said so,' he likely won't be satisfied by that. He's an inquisitive kid and likes to know the reasoning behind things." Well, bully for him. But I'm not losing sleep (or instructional time) over the fact that a 15-year-old has a problem with rules and expectations and feels entitled to re-negotiate them.

If kids like this spent a fraction of the time the spend arguing about the expectations on following the instructions in the first place, they'd save everyone a lot of time.


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Same question
Old 11-07-2016, 06:52 PM
 
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Warning..there are more coming your way! I think at home they keep asking the same question until one parent caves.
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Old 11-07-2016, 07:35 PM
 
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Maybe you should have him write a 953 word essay explaining why he believes the the 500 word maximum does not apply to him and only then would you consider making an appointment with him to discuss it further. Then pick an appointment time which is inconvenient for him, and if complains after missing it, tell him to write a 508 word complaint form so we can make another appointment to discuss about that. Repeat.

In seriousness, start a timer. Give him 30 seconds to talk and then tell him you'll think about it. Tell him he gets to inquire one assignment related question a week or day depending on your patience.
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What my college professor did
Old 11-07-2016, 09:10 PM
 
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He collected the papers. Anything over the 2 page maximum he ripped off and threw away. Usually in front of the whole class.

No one ever went beyond the 2 page maximum after that.
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Old 11-07-2016, 09:36 PM
 
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That sounds like the conversation I have with my brilliant teenage son with autism. Same general theme (including mom's rationale-- that's what my son says about my answers), a variety of different specific topics. Luckily, he doesn't have these conversations with his teachers. I can't say what works, but it usually ends with me saying "that's just the rule/way it is, you need to deal with it. This discussion is over." He's not happy with that, of course (and will continue to try to keep going), but we will never see eye-to-eye on some of these things.

I laughed at Dubby's first ideas (love them), but the last idea is worth a try!


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Old 11-08-2016, 04:49 AM
 
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"He will attend to the word count, but only if you explain in clear terms why the word limit is so important and why it's part of the assignment. "

Now that you have that information, it is a pretty simple answer for you next time he asks. It might actually take you less time than playing along with his questioning game. Tell him why. Maybe it is because you want him to learn to write succinctly. Maybe it is because you don't want long essays to grade. Or maybe it is just because you want them to learn that certain tasks have arbitrary guidelines and need to be followed and while that may not seem fair there are times in his life where he will be expected to adhere to guidelines without explanations. This is one of those times. Then make it the end of the conversation. This takes just as much time as playing the 50 question game and teaches the student something along the way.
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how are you so patient
Old 11-08-2016, 05:11 AM
 
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This kid can be a good lawyer! Tell this kid that because when he cross examines his witness, he can try and manipulate their response if they don't know any better, ! This kid should be in debate!
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Old 11-08-2016, 05:57 AM
 
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Quote:
If kids like this spent a fraction of the time the spend arguing about the expectations on following the instructions in the first place, they'd save everyone a lot of time.
So true!

Quote:
Warning..there are more coming your way! I think at home they keep asking the same question until one parent caves.
Yep!

Quote:
Mom says...he has a hard time with rules whose rationale isn't explained to his satisfaction. She says, "He will attend to the word count, but only if you explain in clear terms why the word limit is so important and why it's part of the assignment..."
OK, if it really is a mild autistic symptom (and she's not just raising a little prince who always gets his way) it's an easy fix:

"The maximum word count is in place because I cannot give enough time to grading each person's paper if they are too long. 10 points will be deducted if the overage is less than 50 words, and 30 points for anything longer than that."

What would bother me more is the following me around the room!! (It's one of the main reasons I usually avoid 1st grade.) I would say:

"My personal space is very important to me. You are invading it, and making me feel very uncomfortable. I will listen to your question when you take your seat and raise your hand, as everyone is expected to do in this classroom, and only after I have given the instructions so others who are ready can begin working."

It sounds like this kid would drive me nuts. I don't envy you!
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Old 11-08-2016, 06:49 AM
 
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My son does this too and it drives us nuts! He does not have autism, so I am not speaking to students dealing with that. My son just wants things his own way and believes if he badgers us enough, he will get his way as we will tire of arguing with him.

One thing you might consider is responding to his first email with "We discussed this in class today. I realize you are not satisfied with my response but my answer remains the same." It might stop his mum from emailing you. But maybe not...
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Old 11-08-2016, 06:49 AM
 
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Tell the whole class that you are changing the assignment to 950 words minimum, thanks to Marcus's insistence on being an overachieving, grade-grubbing, pain in the uh... neck. Then let the rest of the class fix your problem.


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Old 11-08-2016, 10:11 AM
 
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This is another situation that makes me smile knowing I only have to be with students for 40 minutes per weekday. I couldn't imagine having to live under the same roof as many of these "But, why?" askers.

I often tell students that the time they spend digging heels into the ground attempting to get out of doing a task is double/triple the time they'd need to just do the task.
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Am I Wrong?
Old 11-08-2016, 01:17 PM
 
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I think that the reasons for certain rules and requirements are important to know! I tell the students that I do everything for a reason, and if that reason is ever unclear, just ask and I will explain. I understand that this student's approach is what is most bothersome, but I don't think he's being unreasonable.
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The expectation was clear
Old 11-08-2016, 02:17 PM
 
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and has been discussed and explained several times. The student didn't want an explanation; he wanted an exception made. I thought that much was clear from my original post. Mom's complaint was nonsense. I'm not covering the same ground over and over just because a kid doesn't like or agree with the explanation I've already provided.

Do you honestly believe that if I had interrupted class to explain (again) the reasoning behind word limits that the student would have been satisfied, sat down, and cheerfully agreed to cut down his assignment? No, he would simply have carried on arguing and demanding to be allowed to submit 950 words in response to a 500 word assignment.

It's a common problem these days. Some students feel entitled to ignore rules and expectations if they find them inconvenient. They think that arguing the point over and over will eventually wear down the adult.

A big one is exams. Invariably, on final exams, presiders will remind kids to budget their time and caution them when time is running out. There are always one or two kids who, when told there are ten minutes remaining, will raise their hands and say, "What if I'm not done?" and who look angry and disbelieving when told they won't be getting extra time.

They don't want (or generally even pay attention to) the pedagogical rationale, even it's spelled out for them. They just want (and feel entitled to) their own way.

msd2: Interesting that you accept the mother's take on the situation at face value but question mine. The mother was being disingenuous. I was being consistent. Just because I didn't re-explain my rationale (for the umpteenth time) at the moment I was trying to begin class doesn't mean the rationale was never offered. Don't assume "facts not in evidence," as my retired lawyer mother was fond of saying.

Many students nowadays operate on a "better to beg forgiveness than ask permission" basis. They simply ignore a rule they find irksome, and hope for the best.

It's the same thing with food in the classroom. Not allowed. I explain why at the beginning of each course. Bugs. Messes. Distractions. Bottled water only. There's always one who tears open a bag of chips and then acts incredulous that I'm making them get rid of them. "But sir... it's already open. Can't I just finish it?"

We've had an ongoing issue with the East entrance to the school. Students are not allowed to enter and exit through this door during the school day. The reason is that it's in a corridor near where classes are in session. If students enter and exit during the lunches, it becomes noisy and distracting for those classes. This policy has been explained to the students ad nauseam. Still, every week, teachers and admin have to deal with students ignoring the rule and trying to come and go from the East doors. When confronted, they become defiant, demand to know what the big deal is, and if admin explains (yet again) why the rule exists, the student typically argues with the rationale ("I'm not making noise. I just came in quietly. You should deal with the noisy ones, not hassle everyone whether they are making noise or not"). Nice when a teenager tells adults how to do their jobs.

Last edited by Angelo; 11-08-2016 at 03:07 PM..
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Old 11-08-2016, 03:26 PM
 
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That would drive me nuts. My son had a recent issue that he didn't understand why he couldn't do something. I explained a few times and he was still trying to find a reason that suited him. I finally told him even if he didn't "get" it, he still needed to do what I was telling him, whether he agreed with the principle or not.

That mom should have talked it out with her son. There was no reason to talk to you. Kids like that are going to have a rude awakening in the workplace.
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Similar Conversation
Old 11-08-2016, 04:22 PM
 
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I had a similar conversation with a second grader today.

After too much time trying to explain why, I finally said that I am in charge and that is the way it is going to be. I told her if she felt we needed to continue discussing this issue, I would be glad to do it during recess. I turned and walked away.

Guess who did not show up at recess??
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Old 11-08-2016, 04:34 PM
 
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I gave similar instructions for a prompt, it had to be 400 words max. A student asked why and I told him; "I don't wanna read 150 long essays, I would like to have a life." (then they get surprised when you tell them you don't sleep at school and you have a social life that doesn't involve teachers)
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Obnoxious student
Old 11-08-2016, 04:37 PM
 
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I don't know if this would work but possibly tell him you'll be happy to discuss it after school at a time of YOUR choosing and when this student is highly unlikely to want to be there. I used to tell any students who obnoxiously persisted in questioning my rules that I'd be happy to discuss the issue immediately after class or after school. None ever waited or showed up.

He doesn't want an explanation, he wants you to change the rules for him! Good for you for saying NO! He certainly will have a rude awakening if he goes to college.
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Old 11-08-2016, 04:45 PM
 
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"You are free to submit as many words as you would like. I will stop reading at 500 words and will fill out the rubric based on the 500 words I read. If you are unable to express yourself succinctly in 500 words, please come to tutoring/office hours and I will assign you some additional writing to help you become more succinct."

Marcus will have a hard time arguing his way out of a speeding ticket when he tells the officer that rules are arbitrary and he should be allowed to drive at 47 miles per hour instead of 30 unless the officer explains in clear terms why that rule is important...
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Old 11-08-2016, 06:42 PM
 
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What msd2 said!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !
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Old 11-08-2016, 06:48 PM
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Old 11-08-2016, 06:54 PM
 
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I guess I'm of the "better to beg forgiveness than ask permission" variety. I'll admit that. I guess I'm a part of the problem.
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thank you, that is IT!
Old 11-08-2016, 07:11 PM
 
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Quote:
It's a common problem these days. Some students feel entitled to ignore rules and expectations if they find them inconvenient. They think that arguing the point over and over will eventually wear down the adult.
Somewhere down the line these students were coddled or had been enabled. We need to keep the standards in place and go on as usual.

In my last subbing assignment, I had a student who took a pencil from the teacher's desk without asking and I was in the desk. He just grabbed one from the container without asking and I was on to him and I wouldn't let up, but in their warped thinking, they have been accustomed to doing these things and they fail to see what the issue or the matter is. And they will keep insisting as you have so eloquently described here. They think that they're above some law or standard. We gotta keep nipping things in the bud.

I just can't believe how incorrigible some are.
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or in real life, LOL!
Old 11-08-2016, 07:15 PM
 
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Quote:
doesn't want an explanation, he wants you to change the rules for him! Good for you for saying NO! He certainly will have a rude awakening if he goes to college.
Speeding ticket, "...but officer, the car ahead of me is going just as fast if not even faster than I am, howcome you didn't catch him?"

You get caught, you pay the fine too.
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Old 11-08-2016, 07:46 PM
 
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Quote:
Tell him why. Maybe it is because you want him to learn to write succinctly. Maybe it is because you don't want long essays to grade. Or maybe it is just because you want them to learn that certain tasks have arbitrary guidelines and need to be followed and while that may not seem fair there are times in his life where he will be expected to adhere to guidelines without explanations. This is one of those times. Then make it the end of the conversation. This takes just as much time as playing the 50 question game and teaches the student something along the way.
I think it teaches the student that the teacher will engage in unnecessary and unproductive conversation. When the kid has been given a rubric which tells him what the requirements are and exactly what it takes to make an A, or B or a C (or an F) and when you, as the teacher, have no intention of changing the expectations as outlined on the rubric, then entertaining such questions is pretty pointless. It's just inviting an argument. The kid wasn't asking questions because he genuinely wanted to understand teacher's motivations. He was trying to manipulate, and he needed to be shut down. Furthermore, his mother needs to support the teacher and tell her kid she expects him to do the work as assigned, and no she's not calling the teacher to get him to change the rules. Mom's call was also an attempt to manipulate. As soon as the teacher tells her a reason, she will come back with a reason of her own as to why teacher's reason is stupid. I say accept his 950 word essay and then grade accordingly.

Also, I'm suspicious of a whiny kid who writes nearly twice the required amount. Perhaps he "borrowed" a previously written paper and didn't know how to cut it down or was too lazy to try.
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Old 11-09-2016, 05:21 AM
 
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There are a fair number of kids who don't write succinctly. One of the brightest girls I ever knew struggled with this. Word limits were always a struggle. Luckily she had a few teachers who worked with her to help her learn so by the time I saw her she was on her way to learning how to remove the extraneous information from her work and change long phrases into short ones.

I'm not suspicious of the whiney kid who complains about the length. The length still needs to be adhered to, but that student usually needs a lot of help in learning how to change his or her writing style and how to focus the argument.
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Writing succinctly is a skill that is learned
Old 11-09-2016, 09:44 AM
 
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I had a college professor that taught us succinct writing by having us write 2 pages, cut it to 1 page, cut it to 1 paragraph. It was a nightmare, but I learned.

I have an autistic son, and he's big on wanting to know the "why" behind things. However, he's 14, and we have told him that sometimes he is NOT going to know the reasoning behind things, and he just has to accept that.

If you're pulled over for going 65 in a 50mph zone, the cop isn't going to explain to you why the speed limit is 50. He's simply going to give you a ticket for speeding. If you didn't see the speed limit sign, or didn't know the law, you're still going to get a ticket.

This is a life lesson. He's 15. I wouldn't even give it as much discussion as you did. "The requirements for this lesson are in the rubric." End of story.
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Old 11-09-2016, 10:08 AM
 
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I do agree that they must learn that some rules must be followed, but that sometimes takes all involved to have discussions with the child. I don't know if you were able to get that through to your child without others helping, but somehow it worked.

I don't see these instances as an either or. I also don't see why there is an assumption that the sole reason for kids to not want to adhere to things is to just get away with it. It is usually seeded in an underlying problem. The problem Angelo is seeing is a poor choice of methods to use to try to solve the problem which is the child is having trouble managing the limitation based on the comment that he already tried to cut it down as much as he could. End of discussion might eventually fix the method he is choosing, but it doesn't teach the two things the student also needs which is how to ask for the help you really need and how to learn to perform the task the rubric is stating.

Angelo may have offered to help him. Angelo may have tried to explain the why which might be he doesn't want to grade it or that he wants the students to write more succinctly. That doesn't mean the student internalized what he said. Now it comes down to do it right or lose points and shut up about it.

I guess I just have a different philosophy about teaching students which is that it is my responsibility to try to understand the difficulties and do what I can to help the student learn what he needs to learn before leaving. Yes, one of those lessons is that rules that you don't agree with have to be followed in some situations. Knowing those situations is difficult for even most adults. Knowing when to question rules is difficult for adults.
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Old 11-09-2016, 12:37 PM
 
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Writers have to write to a specific word count all the time. When writing for any periodical, there is a limited amount of space. Even in blogs, there is a limit to the amount of text that anyone wants to read. Learning to write to a word count is a necessary part of learning to write well. Furthermore, the word count gives the writer some essential information about how much detail is expected. It makes a difference whether the reader needs an abstract or executive summary, or whether they need a detailed treatise. Students need to have the skills to do both.

I think it is appropriate to explain why students should learn to write to specific word limits. But then, the discussion is over. If he cannot edit to your limit, he needs help with that skill. You can help him with the skill. That's part of teaching him. If it is a skill you expect students to have already, he will have to get help at a time convenient to you.
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Old 11-09-2016, 05:49 PM
 
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Or Angelo may know this student better than you do (Angelo having taught him for a year and a bit). Angelo may have observed that this student already possesses the skill set necessary to confine his writing to a word limit. Angelo may also have observed that this student has a tendency (and not just with respect to assignments) to want the rules bent to suit his immediate desires.

And maybe - just maybe - you don't actually know Angelo's "philosophy about teaching" since he's never shared it with you.
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Old 11-09-2016, 07:17 PM
 
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Rules aren't for "sometimes" or for "some" people. That's what makes them rules.
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Old 11-10-2016, 03:21 AM
 
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Actually, rules may always exist, but consequences or having to follow those rules does not always exist. I can give you examples in many aspects of life if you want them. Even the speeding ticket rule is violated on a continual basis. Even when stopped there are times people don't get a fine. Even when people get a fine some go to court and it is dismissed. If you would like to talk about the literal meaning of a rule always existing, you are absolutely right. If you want to talk about the concept of rules always being enforced or always having consequences when someone breaks them and is caught is absolutely incorrect.
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Old 11-10-2016, 03:26 AM
 
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You are right. I may not, Angelo.

I described and stated what I have seen you write about and how you address issues. I also said you might be doing certain things that a good teacher does. Maybe you don't. You are right. You haven't directly shared your whole teaching philosophy. You seem bothered enough to comment that I can't know what you do because you haven't shared, but it is very hypocritical with you because just recently you wrote a tirade about me stating many falsehoods about what I believe and my motivations for it.

Seems it goes both ways.
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Old 11-10-2016, 10:43 AM
 
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Now is one of those times I wish PT had a "like" button.

FTR, I LOVE reading your posts. That's not to say that I enjoy it when you have a vent (ha!), but I appreciate your writing skills.
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Old 11-10-2016, 07:29 PM
 
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No, it doesn't go both ways. You've had a bee in your bonnet for years about The Vent page generally and my posts specifically. Deny it if you wish. Maybe you don't realize it, although that seems unlikely. I don't know if you're aware of it, but I've had private messages from other registered posters who have expressed dismay at the frequency of your attacks on my posts.

In a thread dealing with any sort of teacher-student or teacher-parent conflict, your responses are almost invariably highly critical of teachers but sympathetic to students and their parents. As I mentioned earlier, in your responses, you seem inclined to take students and parents at their word while questioning the motives and judgment of teachers. Correct me if I'm wrong here.

Not for the first time, when I or another poster has described a frustrating encounter with a student or parent, you've popped up to suggest (sometimes directly, sometimes in a backhanded way) that the poster somehow lacks concern for students or has poor insight into child development or adolescent psychology. Has it occurred to you that one doesn't survive in this profession without a pretty solid understanding of human behavior and child development?

I've seen you bend over backwards to offer spirited defenses of obnoxious students and argumentative parents as though you have some special insight into such encounters that the rest of us lack.

You write as though you think a person venting about an encounter with a student or parent must simply not have considered the parent's or student's point of view. Does it ever occur to you that the poster HAS considered the parent's perspective? Or the student's? I'm a parent of school-age children. I was a student for many years myself. When I characterize a student's or parent's behavior as unreasonable, it isn't that I don't understand where they are coming from. Contrary to what you may think, I'm actually a pretty sensitive, patient, and empathetic person. However, being empathetic and patient doesn't always mean suffering fools gladly.

To employ some more cliches, sometimes, a cigar really is just a cigar. Sometimes those hoofbeats you hear belong to horses, not zebras. A few rude and difficult students may be acting out deep-seated fears of inadequacy. I'm a Sped-certified (did you know that?) high school teacher who is often requested by the parents of students with learning exceptionalities. Parents (of kids with special needs) have thanked me for my care and concern. But many parents also have thanked me for not infantilizing their teenaged students, for holding them to account, for wanting the best for them and therefore not being satisfied with excuses from them. And not every rude, difficult student fits that category. Some are simply difficult people and no amount of probing for some deap-seated underpinning for that rudeness will reveal anything, because sometimes, there is no more to reveal. The cigar is just a cigar.

You're right, of course, that I can't know what motivates you to be so reliably disagreeable on The Vent board. I don't know if you're just disgruntled at the idea of teachers venting at all. That's for you to reveal (or not) if you wish. I only know that posters come here when they encounter difficult situations in a difficult job. They generally want other like-minded people to have their back. Sometimes they want advice, but most often, they need a sympathetic ear, not coolly critical assessments of their veracity, empathy, judgment or insight.

Not a tirade. If I've pegged you wrong, I apologize. I would simply point out that I have not followed your original posts with a view to questioning your professional judgment or concern for students, particularly when a forum like The Vent tends to be geared toward frustrating situations and so on. Can you say the same?
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Old 11-10-2016, 09:47 PM
 
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Angelo is right.

I wonder why such a regular poster as you are continues to sign in as a guest. It makes me think of an anonymous letter writer who doesn't take full responsibility for his/her words.

Last edited by Ruby tunes; 11-11-2016 at 09:20 AM..
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Old 11-11-2016, 07:01 AM
 
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Quote:
Rules aren't for "sometimes" or for "some" people. That's what makes them rules.
This is very dangerous thinking that can lead down a very slippery slope. Just commenting on the general mentality, not Angelo's situation. I do tend to give the benefit of the doubt to the teacher who actually knows the student and try not to judge a situation in someone else's classroom. I'm sure a lot of how I react to students could be judged harshly if witnessed out of context.
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I thought you were serious...
Old 11-14-2016, 06:18 PM
 
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Dubby, and I liked your solution!

But the fact is, many times we are limited by word count. Private school and college apps done online limit word count; many online discussions and comments section limit word count; Twitter certainly does.

Economy of words is a commendable goal in today's world of distraction. If your message can't be delivered succinctly, it will likely be ignored.

IBM's motto? "Think."

Nike's: "Just Do It."

If a flaming kebab is flying in my direction, I would rather the waiter yell, "Duck!" than "Pardon, me, sir, but a flaming kebab is likely to skewer you if you don't avail yourself of the opportunity to take cover."

ABC. Always Brief and Clear.

Unlike my response here.

Last edited by jorgefuriouso; 11-14-2016 at 06:20 PM.. Reason: left off name of person to whom I was responding
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