Friday, September 7, 2012

I Can't Be Sad Because I Don't Have Feelings

It happened.

I'm turning into my mother.

(I love you, Mom.  I know you read.  Sometimes.  But hang on for the rest of it because I promise it's not too insulting.  Mostly.)

My brothers and I have recounted a few moments of our childhood in which my mom wasn't known for being the most sympathetic person.  She believed if the sick and downtrodden (namely, us) were going to be at the house, we might as well make ourselves useful.  We joke that she would call home and say things like, "I know you're puking, but do you think you could paint the front porch?  That would be really helpful.  Just take a bucket outside to puke in."  Or, my personal favorite, "I know you're not feeling that well, but the kitchen floor really needs to be mopped.  And, well, you're home, you know..."

In her defense (you're welcome, Mom), she held herself to the same standards and I recall she rarely missed work when I was a child.  Actually, I can recall her allowing herself to get so sick that I had to call Gloria one night in complete terror because Mom needed to go to the hospital, none of us were old enough to drive and my dad was working a job 3 hours away.

Honestly, she just had little tolerance for wasted time or illness and did her best to instill her "pick yourself up by your bootstraps mentality."  There was no such thing as an excuse.  (See what I mean?  No sympathy.)

Sometimes, though, I have difficulty doing that in my classroom.  In the last few years, I've been working toward instituting a policy that requires students to be responsible for their work while giving them space to screw up because they are, after all, teenagers.  Here is the policy as it appears on my syllabus:

Late Work
Occasionally, life happens and assignments go missing.  I am aware that every student faces difficult situations that might also serve as a blockade to the completion of homework.  If one of these events should take place, the student is required to see me before school begins to receive any sort of consideration for the assignment.  Otherwise, I do not accept late work.

Please note:  Blatant misuse of this policy will result in less consideration on my part.

I'm comfortable with this policy because it puts all responsibility into the hands of the student.  My department policy states we do not accept late work so in order to comply with the policy while still feeling I'm giving students the benefit of the doubt, I allow them the opportunity to talk to me in the morning before the bell rings. If the student believes the situation is important enough to warrant a morning interview, they likely need a little extra consideration.

On Wednesday, one student came to discuss the homework assignment and the reason she wasn't able to finish.  She was near tears and terrified, but even had she been fine I would've given her an extra day because she followed the policy set forth in my syllabus.  She was standing in my classroom at 7:45 am.  Nothing screams responsibility quite like that.

Unfortunately, few of the rest of my clan took that rule seriously.  Of 25 students, I received a sum total of 8 completed assignments.  Several tried to plead their cases.  Honestly, I was a little calloused toward the lot of them (just a little like my mom and personal illness) because I felt the policy clearly stated they had a responsibility to see me before school began.

So I guess this is the year I have no feelings, but I'm really so proud of myself for getting to this point.

And I know my calloused Mother will high-five me for it ;)

(Kidding, Mom.  I'm only kidding.  Sort of.)

(And, ladies, if you're feeling brave about your role as a wife or woman, you should click over and read this.)


Mindee@ourfrontdoor said...

Great policy and some day they will thank you!

Established: 2008 said...

I'm all about the no feelings. I tell kids all the time "That's really sad for you. It doesn't affect me". That might be mean. I'm ok with it.