Tuesday, October 14, 2008

2nd quarter letter

UPDATE #1... I found some errors and corrected them on my original and here...

This is the letter that is going to be sent to all the parents on Tuesday, which is the first day of the new quarter. I hope this will alleviate some of the problems that I am having with my students. Notice how many times I put my phone number on the letter to make sure they can get a hold of me with any questions. Feel free to carp, criticize, suggest or otherwise let me know what I can do to improve this. If you would like to borrow this for your own use, feel free.

Dear Parents,

Well, we have survived the first quarter and generally your children have done fairly well in my math classes. However, there are some things that need to be cleared up for the 2nd quarter so that we don’t repeat the mistakes of the first nine weeks.

The first issue I need to address is one of coming to class prepared. For the last few weeks far too many students are not showing up with basic items such as pencils, paper, red correcting pens or even their math textbook. They must have the following supplies with them when they come to math class: 2-3 pencils, a red pen to correct with, their textbook, binder paper and a good attitude.

The next issue I need to address is the effort or lack thereof given by the students. If your child did not earn the kind of grade that you were expecting, it was probably due to one of the following things: not turning in homework, too much talking, not taking their time or a combination of the three. It’s imperative that your child give this class their best effort or their grade will not be where it should be.

The most likely cause of poor grades is that students decided not to turn in their homework. On average the students had 45 assignments that were either homework or class work that had to be completed at home. If a student misses one or two assignments it generally does not hurt their grade much, BUT when the number of missing assignments is more than five or six it can literally cost them one full grade, and if the student is missing more than ten assignments, it’s almost impossible to pass the quarter or semester. If your child tells you they have no homework from me, it’s probably not true. The ONLY time they would not have homework is the day of a test or quiz. This includes Fridays as well. In high school and in college, they will have homework nearly every day and they need to get used to doing homework on the weekends. If you have a question please call me at 555-1212.

Late work is a huge problem and in an effort to alleviate this, the following policy will be in place for the remainder of the semester. If a student does not turn in an assignment on time, they will receive a 10% penalty for every day it is late until the 5th day. At that point the best they can do is 50% on their assignment. Once we have finished a chapter, any missing assignments from that chapter will become and remain ZEROS in the grade book. If your child is absent for any reason it is their responsibility to get the assignment(s) and turn them in. They will have three days to turn it in or it will be considered late and the penalties will ensue. If you have any questions, please call me at 555-1212.

The next most likely cause is that they have decided that math class is their time for socializing and not for learning the material they need to pass this class. I do not tolerate talking in my class and if your child decided to test me on this expect to get a phone call home letting you know your child is disrupting my class. If they get a phone call home they will also get detention during the morning break between 2nd and 3rd period for a minimum of two days. If they don’t show up expect another phone call home and more detention. If you never had a chance to give me your contact information please fill out the form attached to the letter and have your child return it to me. If you have questions please call me at 555-1212.

It may also be that your child is rushing through their homework in an effort to get as much play time as possible. It’s not possible to do my homework in only 10-15 minutes. At minimum, it should take my students 30-45 minutes to complete assignments at home. I do give them time (when possible) to complete their homework in class, so it may be that they have done most of the work already. If you have any questions, please call me at 555-1212.

My students also have the opportunity to fix mistakes on their assignments and exams. They get full credit for homework or class work that they fix. If for example, they get a score of 10/20 on an assignment and then correctly redo seven of the ten questions, I will change their grade accordingly from a 10 to a 17. For multiplication sheets then can get one point back and on exams, they can get half of the missed points back. This is the best way for your student to improve their grade in my class. I do this because I want them to understand the material and doing it a second time will help them now and next year in their pre-algebra class. If you have any questions, please call me at 555-1212.

Don’t forget that AACPA has free tutoring in the great room starting at 3:45pm and continuing until 5:15pm Monday through Thursday. It’s free and if your child has less than a 75% (C) in any class, I strongly encourage you to participate. You can have them come once a week or everyday. If you have any questions, please call me at 555-1212.

By now I’m sure you’ve noticed that I’ve mentioned my phone number several times (555-1212). Please call me with any questions or concerns you have. If you get my voicemail please leave me a message with a call back number (or two) so I can return your call. I cannot be successful in the classroom without your support. If you prefer using e-mail, feel free You are also welcome to stop by my classroom at any time. The only day I cannot stay late is on Tuesdays because I have to be in downtown Henderson at 5pm. Most other days of the week I am here until at least 5pm and I would be happy to spend a few minutes chatting with you.

I would appreciate it if you would sign the form attached and return it to me. If you are not sure if I have your contact information OR if it’s changed, please fill out the contact information again. If the first page has a star on the front, I don’t have your contact information on file and need to have it so I can contact you regarding your child's progress in my math class.

If you have any questions, please call me at 555-1212 or e-mail me, I look forward to a new quarter and continued math success.

Obviously I changed the phone number to protect myself and I took out my email address for the same reason. I also attached in the real letter a signature/contact information sheet for the kids who didn't get the initial contact information signed. I am also going to make getting this new letter signed worth a large amount of points so that if they don't it's really going to hurt them, and conversely it will reward the students who do things the right way. 10 points don't seem to do the trick, so I was thinking of 25 points or more. I also hope that this will help with the late work issue all teachers face.