Dad’s D-27

It is 4:15 in the afternoon, and, the last students having left the classroom, the residual clamor in my head has quieted enough that I can make my first parent phone call.

“This is Mr. Smith from Bell Valley High School returning a phone call from Mr. Peterson.  Is this Mr. Peterson.”

“Hello, Mr. Smith, thank you for calling back.  I believe we spoke last month.”

“That’s correct.  At that time you were concerned about the way in which I was giving feedback to Mark on his essays.”

“I was concerned, yes.  You were grading essays on how far you had read before a student made mistake.”

“That’s correct.  There were basic priorities I stressed during the unit, and if I reached a point in an essay where a priority wasn’t being observed, I stopped reading.  I didn’t want to spend more time grading an essay than the student had spent writing it.”

“You said that those papers you finished reading earned an A+; papers that you got at least 90% through earned an A; and so on.”

“It was a method that, to be honest, I was quite excited about.”

“In Mark’s case, you didn’t read past his paper’s title.”

“Up to the reading of Mark’s essay, there was no rule forbidding profanity in an essay’s title; however, I made that a rule up on the spot.”

“I understand that you now have a new system that involves your attaching an audio file to  electronically submitted essays.”

“I want to give my students the benefit of hearing someone react to their essay as it is being read.”

“Mark’s audio file was just silence.”

“In the case of Mark’s paper, ‘Shakespeare was a Weird Fricking Dude,” I thought silence better than my more authentic reaction.  If I had been completely authentic, the audio file would have contained one long, sustained scream.”

“Don’t you think that’s a bit harsh?”

“I would call it authentic.”

“Perhaps, rather than an audio file,  Mark would benefit from conventional written comments.”

“With or without profanity?”

“Excuse me?”

“Mark is quite fond of profanity, and I thought it might be more authentic if my comments were filled with little more that four letter words.”

“Could we, over the short term at least, shoot for something other than authenticity in your comments?”

“Do you wish me to coddle the child?”

“Perhaps when you give him feedback you could search for a middle ground between coddling and  primal screams.”

“If you wish.”

“I do.  Thank you.”





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