Livin’ the Dream

I had a dream not long ago in which I was trying to copy some papers in the teacher work room, but I couldn’t because someone had nailed the copy machine shut.  Talk about frustrating and unexpected.  But, of course, it was only a dream…

One day recently a student approached me before class to turn in a practice chart that had been due the day before (I think the chart was blueberry scratch-n-sniff flavor, but I digress).  He had written the word “Absent” across the top of the chart, so I asked him for more information; if he had been absent, he wouldn’t receive the one letter grade penalty for being one day late.

“Help me out here, Danny.  I know our schedule was all messed up yesterday with the ISTEP (standardized) test, but I don’t remember seeing your name on the absence list.”

“I wasn’t absent from school,” he explained, “just from your class.  I had to go to testing.”

“O.k., but if you were in school, why didn’t you turn this in?” I asked.  Danny’s demeanor started to stiffen.

“I couldn’t,” he said, “I didn’t have time.”

I knew this wasn’t the case, so I pressed him further.

“You had 10 minutes before first period.  Were you late getting to school?”

“No, but I had to get to class,” he said impatiently.

“Well, other students stopped by to turn in their charts before school.  Why couldn’t you?  Or what about at lunch time?”

“I don’t know.”  Now he was getting angry.

“Aren’t practice charts always due on Wednesdays?”

“Yes.”

“The band room is practically on the way to your first class.  And it is close by the cafeteria,” I pointed out.  “And the collection box is right there on the table by the door.”

“I know, but I couldn’t,” he was beginning to sound a little desperate.

“What about after school?  You have to go right by here on your way to the bus.”

Exasperated, he finally said, “I forgot!”

Talk about frustrating…

“You forgot,” I echoed.

“Yeah,” he said, a little softer.

“Then don’t get angry with me about it, Danny.  After two years in band, you know how we do things around here.  I’ll have to deduct a letter grade from your chart.  I just want to be sure you understand why so we can avoid this in the future.”

“Yeah, I know,” he said.  “Sorry.”

…and unexpected.

“Thanks,” I answered.

As it turns out, the amount of time he had practiced would have only earned a “D;” a letter grade penalty would make it an “F.”

I took the chart to my computer, brought up the grade book and typed in “D-.”  I know that some will say I was too easy on him (and others will say there shouldn’t be a penalty at all).  But in this case, Danny had shown a sincere change in his attitude.  I figured I could give him a little credit for learning a non-music lesson, even if he had to learn it the hard way.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Mark S. on May 14, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    Nicely said.

    Reply

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