Saturday, February 17, 2007

I have to go on a tennis trip; I have to go on vacation


Student and Teacher
Originally uploaded by Wonderlane.
I've been scanning various edu-blogs; there's so much to read, to learn, to think about. There are plenty of smart teachers out in the world doing fantastic things with their students. I am excited about the prospects of joining the throng.

Of course, there's always a downside. Tonight I came across a post about a letter from some parents about their son's progress in school. I think now, tempered with age and my own sons, I can better understand these parents' concerns, but I'm flabergasted at their request. For four paragraphs they write about Johnny's learning disability and their desire for modifications in the classroom and extra help. That's all well and good; frankly, I enjoyed spending help periods or free bells working with students one-on-one. But then, in the fifth paragraph comes the kicker:
While it may seem like bad timing, he will be missing 3 days of school: 2/14, 2/15, and 2/20; we are taking a (much needed) family vacation. Any assistance you can give to Johnny in addressing missed work/planning ahead/etc., is so appreciated. If you have suggestions for us, based on what you have experienced to be helpful, please feel free to share your thoughts with us.
I'm reminded of a story that Dr. Steven Covey shares in his Seven Habits of Highly Effective People course. When he was an undergraduate teacher, he had a student come to him to ask to be excused from a class in order to play in a tennis match.

"I have to go on this tennis trip," the student said. Dr. Covey, having just spent class time talking about reactive language, worked to get the student to realize they didn't have to do anything. They were making a choice... the consequences for missing class was missing out on the learning.

Johnny is going to miss the learning... and if he's having such a difficult time with classes, is that really the best move? And, do the parents realize Johnny isn't just missing time in class, but is missing the learning that goes along with being in class and working?

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