It has been a rough couple of weeks when it comes to school. The fifth grade has been slapping us around a bit. I have to admit that I have not been the overbearing task master that I had been in previous grades. Everything seemed to be OK. We just had the first trimester parent/teacher conference. The teachers told me nothing that I did not already know (he rushes through sometimes, he makes silly mistakes, his handwriting is super messy). And his lowest grade was a B in math. I was feeling pretty good. Then, it all went south at the very beginning of the second trimester. I logged into the program that tracks grades and lets parents see the work that the kids have to do. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that math was now my son’s highest grade. Language Arts, Science and Social Studies, his main-I can do this with half my brain tied behind my back classes-were all around a C. I looked into the detail on the grades and he seemed to have gotten no credit for a bunch of work. From the comments it looked like it was just not done well.
I reset the notifications in the grading program to notify me of all the low grades he received, not just the math ones. That was when my day went from bad to worse. Throughout the afternoon, the system sent me at least six low grade notifications. I moved a work meeting because I was having such bad grade anxiety. I finally called the school’s office to figure out how to communicate with the substitute for the teacher who was in charge of Language Arts. She called me back a little while later and proceeded to tell me that the problem was that my son was not turning in the work. There was nothing wrong with the quality of the work. When he did turn it in, it was great. But he just kept not turning it in. So he was doing the work. Doing it well but then just not submitting it. I wasn’t sure if I should be happy or sad. I suppose part of me felt better that it was just almost-ten-year old irresponsibility regarding this and not that his work quality had plummeted.
We had quite the talk that evening. I took away his devices (the DS and the iPad). He threw a monumental fit. He was one angry guy until it was all out of him and then he cried because he was so disappointed with the grades he had at that moment. I was glad about that. I was glad that he still cared. That he did want to get good grades and do a good job.
Since then he has been on top of it. He has remembered to turn in his assignments on time. He has done well on just about everything since this all began (save for a couple of failed math quizzes). I almost feel better about the failed math than the un-submitted work. At least I know that he can learn means and averages. Responsibility is a bit tougher and will take more time. We are working towards it. Little by little. He got his DS back, almost a week after he lost it. That’s because today I received a slew of high grade notifications (in Language Arts, Technology, Science and for his spelling test). I received these after I revisited the settings in the grading program and added high grade notifications along with the low ones. I realized that only getting the bad news was really getting me down. I needed to know that he was capable of doing good too. And he is. Just as I suspected all along. I just needed to know.