Rant No. 1: How do you grade an assignment based on student honesty?

Dear Ms. Redd,*

Sometimes I hate school. And more than anything, I hate English class. I try not to rant online in blog posts, but sometimes somebody oversteps a line and I just have to speak.

Today I got home and found an unpleasant email sullying my inbox: an email from you (to all of your students). It amounted to “send me an email before our next class meeting about how our class has been going so far this year and what has or has not been working. I will be grading you based on your honesty.” I would post the whole thing here, but… I’m not sure whether or not that’s legal.

Now, I will clarify a few points. You plan to grade us on honesty? Yeah. Right. So if I criticize you and say that you were wrong in using the word “picaresque” in responding to the story my friend wrote about her parents’ divorce or that you were wrong in even assigning this letter at all, you won’t take it badly? When students hand in assignments that weren’t exactly what you were expecting, you blame the students. When students are upset by the way you treated them and their work (you absolutely do not tell somebody that they might as well have written about how Holden wants to be a ballerina just because you disagree with their interpretation), you blame the students. If students hand in letters saying they are dissatisfied by their experiences in your class, you will blame them. You told us on the first day of school that you teach because your parents were teachers. You’ve made it clear time and time again that you prioritize your Celtic rock band above your students. And the last time I went to ask you about how I could improve my English grade, you said “I don’t care.” (The first time I went to ask, you said “use better handwriting; yours gives me headaches, so I can’t be bothered to read it.”)

Just this afternoon I heard that you had been spending quality time discussing with some of your students the merits of Sparknotes over Cliffnotes. Of course, I refuse to forget about that day you recommended that we all go use No Fear Shakespeare. I find it disgusting that you even have the nerve to call yourself an English teacher. You indulge in blatant favoritism and are constantly fifteen minutes late to class. You create a hostile class dynamic in which you ridicule and criticize students for not understanding the text. You claim you want absolutely no grade comparison, and yet it is obvious that you yourself have a list of students in your class from FAVORITE to WORST. Not only that, but we all know how that list goes. You never clarify expectations, and yet expect very different essays from last year’s English teachers. Not only that, but your expectations are constantly changing.

You refuse to admit that as a teacher, you have a responsibility to your students; you are absolutely the worst teacher I have had the misfortune of meeting.

If you had really wanted our opinions on your class, this assignment would be anonymously handed in and ungraded. I’m thankful to the school administration for trying to act upon the students’ distress–after all, I have no doubt that it was either the English department head, principal, counselor (or perhaps all three) that asked you to request direct student feedback. However, if you actually want to seem as if you’re making an effort to be a better teacher, you’re going to have to try harder. After all, now all of your students (me included) are going to have to go write a page praising you and your subpar teaching. Congratulations on further frustrating each and every one of your students.

Best,

Al.

*Ms. Redd is a pun on my English teacher’s real name.

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Categories: Dear Now, Rant | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Rant No. 1: How do you grade an assignment based on student honesty?

  1. Oh, my. I’m sorry you had such a bad experience. I-I can’t even imagine having a teacher that is THAT bad. If she doesn’t listen to your feedback, you should go directly to the department head. Nobody deserves to have a teacher like that. Ever.

    • The unfortunate thing is that I have been to the department head multiple times. So have some of my friends. But because of teachers union laws a) we are stuck with her for another six months and b) we know nothing about what the current situation between her and the school is.
      I miss eighth grade English so much. >.<
      Ah, well. Thank you for the sympathy. Are we beginning The Hobbit in six days?

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