A couple of days ago, I wrote about a kid who had made some poor choices last month and had been told by other teachers he would fail. Guess what? He passed my class. Here is the e-mail mom sent me yesterday:
I wanted to thank you for giving him a chance to redeem himself. You are the only one of his teachers who was willing to do so. I know he has it in him to do well in school; we just need to find a way to keep him motivated.
Again, thank you for everything and have a super summer.
This e-mail is bittersweet. On one hand, I'm happy that the young man got himself turned around and was able to pass my class. And on the other hand, I'm disappointed in his other teachers. What sort of people give up on kids? Why are those people in schools?
I wish I could reply to this e-mail the way I'd like. I'd tell this mother to pull her kid from this school and send him elsewhere in the district. I'd tell her that because her child is not an AP kid, he will never be seen as anything other than scum by his other teachers and he will continue to be ignored. I'd let her know that the administration of the school will never support the kinds of motivational practices her son needs. I might even warn her about the number of families I know who had children who attended this school and later had to deal with suicide attempts or continual bouts of tears every time high school was mentioned. This school will damage her son if she isn't careful.
Instead, I will keep this little jewel of an e-mail to myself and not send a reply. I'm sure that she's not expecting one. And in the future, I will remember this lesson about grades and wish that this young man holds on to some hope, too.