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Was I too harsh? (kind of long)

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I've been teaching a summer class for 8 weeks now. Two of my students have visual impairments, so I do have to adjust for them. One is doing excellent...he's getting an A.

The other, well isn't doing as well. He's not horrible, but he's at a C-. Apparently the dept for people with disabilities requested a progress report for him and the other student.
I told them for the firs student that he's doing excellent and is a pleasure to have in class.

For the other student...well I made notes that he isn't doing the homework, and will leave 1/2 way through the class for the rest of the night. In fact, the other night, he showed up, stayed for 1/2 an hour, left...came back for 15 minutes. When we took the break, I never saw him come back. He's been like this for the past 2-3 weeks. The only time he stayed pass 8 o'clock was for the mid-term exam.
I noted for him to improve his grade, he really needs to start doing his homework and to turn it in on time. He can also do 2 more previous assignments (I have a 3 late assignment rule...I won't accept the 4th late assignment - oh yea and the only homework he did do was late). I know this will help as the people that did well on the exam were also doing their homework. So I figured that if he starts doing his homework and does well on the final project (which I haven't seen anything from him for) and does well on the final exam (I'm terming well as an 85% on both), then he can improve his grade...I figured he could get up to a B or B-.
Otherwise, if he needs additional help such as tutoring then he should make arrangements. If I need to adjust my teaching style then I need to know also...otherwise he might want to withdraw from the class.

Do you think I was too harsh? all of the above is true...however if there is something I'm doing or not doing, he hasn't made me aware of it yet.

Thanks for your input.
post #2 of 18
I say you are being generous to him. I've taught a few classes as well, and you can usually tell the difference between those students who have problems but are trying hard, and those who aren't trying at all. You're giving him extra opportunities to make up for his difficulties, which is exactly what you should do - but now its up to him to take those up. If he is making no effort to make a decent grade in class, then its not your responsibility to make it so he can have a good grade. However, if he were trying his hardest and still not succeeding, then I could understand working to help him further.

My advice would be to pull him aside some time, tell him that you'd like to help his grades improve, make sure he understands the ways you want to help him, and ask if there is something specific you can do (i.e. more examples, go slower, teaching style stuff) to help him out. But if he doesn't take you up on any of it, its not your fault. You do what you can to be a good teacher, but ultimately its the students' responsibility to get good grades, and if your other impaired student is able to manage, it is less likely the difficulty is on your end. We all hate to see our students do badly, it makes us feel like we failed to teach them, but sometimes, they just failed to try and learn. Best of luck!
post #3 of 18
I think you are being fair. You are comparing him to someone with similar disabilities, and comparing his behavior vs. the others who are definately making the effort. I probably would have left out the part suggesting that he drop your class, some people are happy with a C, and wouldn't consider dropping it. But for every reason your giving for his low grade, your combatting it with a resolution, so that's good. It's not like your just downing him, saying he does all this wrong... and leaving it like that. You are giving him a chance to make it up, and ways to correct his grade. So yeah, you are definately being fair...
post #4 of 18
Just because he is visually impared doesn't mean he can skip class and homework and assignments and get a good grade because he is impaired. He should work harder to over come that and be the best he can be. He is obviously not doing that. I think you might be being a little to generous!
post #5 of 18
I really don't think you're being too harsh. You've done what you could to make allowances for his disability, but it has to be made clear to this guy that a disability isn't a "free pass", i.e., he has to make an effort. If he doesn't, too bad.
I, too, hate to see students fail, or just scrape by, but the longer I teach, the more cynical I get. You aren't doing a student any favors by making too many allowances for disabilities, personal problems, test anxiety, etc.. If he or she is overwhelmed with classwork, how is that person going to cope with the pressures of "real life"? All you can do is offer some constructive criticism as well as helpful suggestions, and outline the consequences of too little work.
post #6 of 18
Unless he or the disablity office make you aware of something that is going on to make things more difficult for him, I'd say you're doing just fine.
post #7 of 18
Does he have a computer at home?

I used to be in love with a blind man before I met Ariel. For me it is extremely difficult to imagine any vision impaired person to learn properly without a computer that is Braille-compatible.

I realize it would be very difficult for a child to admit that he is too poor for a computer. For years I pretended I have a computer. Just because he says he has a computer doesn't mean he actually has one.

The Department of Education should be able to give him a grant for a new computer.....

I teach biology classes. My worst students are actually preferred by me. They seem to work hard (one of my students worked 2 jobs and got an F.....but then he was the nicest kid I know). I try to give my students the benefit of the doubt.

I guess I am different because I have honor students who can argue until they are blue if they get a 99.5 instead of 100 on a quiz. I actually like my easygoing kids better.
post #8 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by shengmei
Does he have a computer at home?

I used to be in love with a blind man before I met Ariel. For me it is extremely difficult to imagine any vision impaired person to learn properly without a computer that is Braille-compatible.

I realize it would be very difficult for a child to admit that he is too poor for a computer. For years I pretended I have a computer. Just because he says he has a computer doesn't mean he actually has one.

The Department of Education should be able to give him a grant for a new computer.....
I don't think this is a child, she teaches an evening computer-something class I believe

And no I don't think you're being to harsh AT ALL, a non-disabled person wouldn't be able to get a good grade in your class with the attendance that you're describing, he's bringing it on himself, as evidenced by the fact that the other impaired person is getting an A with the same adjustments
post #9 of 18
I tutored here last year, very often for students with some sort of disability. The first thing they find out is that you DO NOT get anything extra aside from accomodations specifically for your disability. Such as, for visually impaired students, the office will hire a notetaker for the class and have those notes transcribed either onto a computer program / tape or into Braillle. They will also provide one of those fancy notetaker machines with the four keys on them with a brailled read-out at the top. You may take tests in the disability office, with extra time, your textbooks will also be transcribed, etc.

You do not, however, get any excuse to miss class, not do your homework, leave early, not study, or anything. If the problems in class are not related specifically to his visual impairment, then you should treat him exactly like you would treat any other student (which I'm sure is very fair and very well!). Not doing so is cheating them out of their education, since just letting them pass isn't teaching them anything. Some students, including some of mine, came with an attitude that we are all obligated to make every aspect of their life easier at the expense of making our own life harder, and that is not true and will end up making them very miserable in the end, so we have to help them realize that.

I would have been much harsher than you were, after I had asked him privately to explain his side of the story-- there may be a good reason for his behavior-- if he had no good reason and just thought he could get away with being a slacker because of his visual impairment. He would not have left that conversation with any idea like that in his head anymore.

I know here we have tutors who help more with time management and study skills and such sort of problems than with a specific subject, hopefully your disability services can send him to a tutor like that.
post #10 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks guys...I guess I do feel harsh about it because of the option to withdraw...but the form did flat out ask me Should this student withdraw? I circled "I don't know" as if he continues this trend he will fail...if he begins to do the assignments, I see results of the final project and he gets a good score on the final exam, like I said he can improve his grade one whole letter.

The thing with this kid (really he's probably in his 20s, its at a 2 year college), he isn't blind...actually I'm not sure how his impairment works. The other guy, he needs extremely large font, so I do make a special set of notes for him and do the tests to accommodate him. This second guy I'm talking about never told me if he needed this or not...just that he needs a note taker in class because he's not good at taking notes.
It did through me though as he sat in the back of the class at first...but now he sits in the second row and occassionaly wears his glasses.

I do feel bad (a little) that I didn't grab him and ask him if everything is alright before turning something like this in. Unfortunately too I won't see him for 2 weeks because of the holiday.
post #11 of 18
I worked in my alma mater's ADA Office. I mostly mentored the disabled students (the majority of them blind) and made sure classes were going fine, corrdinating extra help with profs if necessary. I found that there are 2 kinds of disabled students (I apologixe for the generalization, but this is my experience). The first type are the ones that will NOT allow their diability to get in the way. They may have to work 10 x harder, but they will do it to suceed. The other type are the ones who feel that their disbaility automatically affords them sympathy and "an easy road," the world must be out to get them, etc. Beyond the obvious allowances for their disability, they will ask you to speak to their teachers about their grades, often accusing them of treating them unfairly, or meanly because of thier disability. There may be some cases of that, but a student who is failing all of their classes is not doing so because of anyone else but themselves.

I don't think you were harsh at all, and this young man strikes me as the second type, so your harshness might actually make him improve.
post #12 of 18
You have to think of the members of your classes as a whole. I teach at a junior college (German to English translation, and commercial correspondence in English), and I have students who are dyslexic, or who are translating from one foreign language into another. They get extra help, i.e., I'll collect all their written work and correct it at home, or support them by offering synonyms/explanations or changing sentence structure to help them understand or translate. Since they're getting extra help in and out of class, I expect them to meet the same standards my "non-disabled" German students have to meet when it comes to tests and exams, not to mention attendance and homework.
I think you have to give this particular student your honest assessment of his performance. I'm rejoicing right now, because one of my students has passed her finals with flying colors. She has an immigrant background, and almost all of her female relatives are completely illiterate. Her grades have been barely passing the past two years, and all her English and French teachers thought she had little chance of passing the state exams. We sat down with her, explained that we had our doubts about her chances, and made a few study suggestions two months ago. Right now we're correcting final exams, and she has managed to go up two grades in almost every subject!!!!! I let her know that I was extremely pleased with her results two days ago, and today she told me that the little "heart-to-heart" discussion with the teachers had really motivated her to buckle down and take things seriously.
The bottom line is that not all of your students are going to do well/pass. You can do your utmost to motivate them and offer extra help, but ultimately they are responsible for their grades. If you view every failing student as a personal defeat, you won't last long in the profession. Just do your best.
post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnnasMom
I worked in my alma mater's ADA Office. I mostly mentored the disabled students (the majority of them blind) and made sure classes were going fine, corrdinating extra help with profs if necessary. I found that there are 2 kinds of disabled students (I apologixe for the generalization, but this is my experience). The first type are the ones that will NOT allow their diability to get in the way. They may have to work 10 x harder, but they will do it to suceed. The other type are the ones who feel that their disbaility automatically affords them sympathy and "an easy road," the world must be out to get them, etc. Beyond the obvious allowances for their disability, they will ask you to speak to their teachers about their grades, often accusing them of treating them unfairly, or meanly because of thier disability. There may be some cases of that, but a student who is failing all of their classes is not doing so because of anyone else but themselves.

I don't think you were harsh at all, and this young man strikes me as the second type, so your harshness might actually make him improve.
I think I have both of those examples in my class...one really cares about doing well and applies himself...he just requires size 22 font...
The other, he'll probably confront me on this...but it was stated the first week of class about homework and what's expected of the students. Really this is why homework is so important. You rarely do well on the tests if you don't already understand what's going on. Well, OK, I'm done ranting and worrying.

Thanks!
post #14 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnnasMom
There may be some cases of that, but a student who is failing all of their classes is not doing so because of anyone else but themselves.
Very true.

One thing to remember, of course, is that in many ways disabled people are exactly the same as abled bodied people - some of them work hard, some of them are lazy, etc., etc.

He's (probably) just lazy.

When I read the first post I thought that the description sounds exactly like a woman I did my BA - and she wasn't disabled, though she found lots of excuses to try to get preferential treatment. I personally believe that you do everyone a disservice when you are too lenient, especially in college.
post #15 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Satai
Very true.

One thing to remember, of course, is that in many ways disabled people are exactly the same as abled bodied people - some of them work hard, some of them are lazy, etc., etc.

He's (probably) just lazy.

When I read the first post I thought that the description sounds exactly like a woman I did my BA - and she wasn't disabled, though she found lots of excuses to try to get preferential treatment. I personally believe that you do everyone a disservice when you are too lenient, especially in college.
Well said! I think that he is just lazy..or not willing to put forth any effort. If someone else with a similar disability is able to perform just fine, then he can as well. And if he's having issues, he should be seeking help for it, it sounds like you'd be willing to do what he needs.

I just graduated college and there a lot of people that will do anything they can to get sympathy and bend deadlines and such...it's a headache. You turning in a report like that is doing him a favor, maybe it'll get him on track.
post #16 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crystal211
I just graduated college and there a lot of people that will do anything they can to get sympathy and bend deadlines and such...it's a headache. You turning in a report like that is doing him a favor, maybe it'll get him on track.
I'm lenient, but I won't bend the rules. I allow 3 late homework assignments for the class. If you try to turn in the 4th late, it won't be accepted, it will still be a 0. I told them I'm doing this to mimick a career job. If you have 3 late projects or tasks, then you're in trouble with the boss!!

Oh well...I am planning my speech about grading at the next class. One other guy is actually failing my class. I swear, the rest of the students are fine though which is why I don't want to take too much of class time talking about the grading scale again because of 3 or 4 kids.
post #17 of 18
Excellent...they need to learn at some point. My class used to drive me crazy because some people were pets so they'd get exceptions...and that doesn't fly in the real world.
post #18 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by lunasmom
Oh well...I am planning my speech about grading at the next class. One other guy is actually failing my class. I swear, the rest of the students are fine though which is why I don't want to take too much of class time talking about the grading scale again because of 3 or 4 kids.
Then don't. They're being coddled as it is! If we tried to hand in even 1 late assessment (without a reason), our lecturers would laugh us out of their offices, and I always thought that our lecturers were too darn lenient.

I felt humilated every time the trotted out the 'this is how to write an essay' lecture - every lecturer seems to do it to each class they have each semester - even to seniors!

I was like 'Aargh, don't they realise there are exchange students in the class trying to contain their laughter?!' I mean - really - if you can't write an essay by senior year, what hope is there you'll suddenly realise it's important?
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