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Dealing with Frustrating High School Experiences


Replies to: Dealing with Frustrating High School Experiences

  • IxnayBobIxnayBob 4355 replies42 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 4,397 Senior Member
    Re advocating for your kids, feather ruffling, HS teacher competence, etc.

    DS got an IB diploma, but he took APUSH. The teacher didn't understand the neurologist's Rx post-concussion, and seemed to feel that if DS wasn't flat on his back, he was okay. He got a non-A grade (B?, B+?), but DS covered his butt and soothed his pride by getting a 5 on the AP test and a 780 on the SAT Subject Test. When asked by the GC about it, he could honestly say it wasn't completely fair, and (without having seen her recommendation), I'm sure that his approach at least informed her view of him, whether or not a specific explanation of the grade made it into her rec.

    DS had an IB math teacher who was past his "best used by" date. IB Math is pretty basic in any case, my son was taking math courses at Columbia on the weekends, and this teacher had a chip on his shoulder to boot. DS and I had many conversations about the line between maintaining self-respect and being insolent. I finally called the IB coordinator/principal, who told me that the school prefers that students resolve issues themselves. I reminded him that DS had fended for himself over the years, that it was my first call ever, and that I had MY personal line when I thought a teacher was abusing his authority and bullying my kid. The principal took that at face value, mediated a discussion between DS and teacher, and they had a mutually respectful conclusion of the school year. It was the teacher's last year before retirement and perhaps his patience had worn thin.

    The kids went to a private school that had two distinct teacher cohorts. A good number of teachers had had succesful careers (Wall St., Bell Labs, etc) or were otherwise financially independent. They were teaching because they wanted to give back, found it interesting, or needed something besides golf to fill the hours. They were, without exception, inspirational teachers. The other cohort, those who needed the paycheck, were also mostly excellent. It was a private school, so the pay wasn't great, but most of them enjoyed the freedom, the generally high caliber of students, the small classes, etc. But, there were a few that had come to resent what they saw as spoiled, indulged, entitled students and teachers; they were a hot mess, made even worse by the freedom that worked so well for the others.

    In the end, all turned out fine. DS got into his first choice, Yale, in spite of his far from perfect GPA. I am convinced that he was accepted based on his LoRs, which I like to think highlighted his "non grade grubbing" nature. I am convinced that in parenting HS students, less is more when dealing with the school, except in cases of teachers abusing their authority.

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  • TiggerDadTiggerDad 1814 replies70 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,884 Senior Member
    @IxnayBob - Teachers in general despise those kids who are "grade grubbing" and therefore it is counter-productive to confront them about the grades. However, there's a thin line when confronted with a situation where unfairness is clearly presented. For example, it is categorically wrong to deduct points for missing classes when the students need to take AP and IB exams. I as a parent never got involved in that. As a rule I always have my son do all the communication about such matters. It's a part of the college preparation, after all. He's going to have to take care of all the issues that come up in college, so why deprive him of such skill set?

    Some teachers, especially those who like to take too much license with their personal ways of doing things, need to be confronted. Still, as a rule, we try to stay away from anything that'd come across as placing the grade as the central issue. Even when I met with the school counselor and the AP Biol teacher, the word "grade" never even came up. The entire discussion was in what ways could my son improve his understanding of the subject. In fact, the only reason why the counselor was in the meeting to begin with was because the teacher, who I think was intimidated by the prospect of meeting the parent one on one, had requested the counselor be present as her security blanket. I found that to be interesting since I only wanted to meet with the teacher to see for myself what my son needed to do to improve his grasp of the subject matter. I wanted to know whether my son needed an outside help (tutor, for example) or was the problem a simple matter of internal adjustments. So, for a meeting that I had envisioned as a parent/teacher consultation turned out to be more than that -- accidentally. That was the only time I had gotten myself involved with the school for this son.

    I've gotten myself involved with the school just once also for my older son, and it was a one on one meeting with the teacher. To make the long story short, with so many parents complaining about this Math SL teacher not only to the school administrators but also to the school district, the school finally relented and had him removed from teaching the course. My older son had to get around dealing with this teacher by taking AP Calc AB and BC and taking the AP exams in both AND still taking the SL exam in order to meet the IB requirement. My younger son took the same winded route only to learn, in the middle of finishing up his AP Calc BC this semester, that he can't just take the Math SL exam to fulfill the requirement but that he'd have to take the whole class in his senior year. The teacher's removal came too late for both my sons. But because of the parents' involvement, all the students in the IB program do not have to deal with this teacher any more.
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  • IxnayBobIxnayBob 4355 replies42 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 4,397 Senior Member
    @TiggerDad, I am, in general, a big fan of IB. I apologize for going somewhat off topic, but it's well past the time for IB to wake up and smell the coffee when it come to STEM students. IB math is too elementary for math-y kids, and they really should allow alternatives or provide their own. DS was in a situation similar to your son. He wanted to just skip the IB diploma, but the IB coordinator wanted to pimp the program, so he wouldn't allow him to just take IB ala carte, and DS had the additional friction of taking the course with a teacher who didn't really understand the material.

    Btw, my comment that "less is more" wasn't directed at you.
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