When we think of the good teachers of the world – the ones who put in extra time and care, who go above and beyond, and who would do almost anything to see their students succeed – we probably think of the word “care.”
Sometimes, though, we know that working with kids means telling them what they need to hear and drawing boundaries they’re dying to cross.
This teacher is wondering whether or not she was wrong to lose her cool with a “handful” student, Krissy, whose excuses never stop coming.
The teacher considers herself reasonable and does allow work to be turned in late, and makes exceptions based on circumstances all the time.
I teach 7th grade at a catholic school. I don’t teach all their classes but I do teach math, religion, English, and social studies to my class.
I have this student I’ll call Krissy. She is a… handful. She’s a smart girl and usually does well on tests, but she is extremely dramatic. I have been having a lot of issues with her when it comes to late assignments.
I do accept late homework, but 10% is taken off each day late until they fail the assignment. Obviously there are certain circumstances that students can turn in late assignments without penalty.
That said, Krissy seems to be taking advantage of the policy with excuses that are more outlandish every time she needs another break.
Krissy has been turning in assignments late all year, and going on some sob story about why she couldn’t get it done in time. I have been giving her full credit, but every time my patience is getting thinner.
It’s her grandma is sick so she was visiting in the hospital, her dog ran away and she was out all day looking, her uncle is sick in the hospital, her mom got stuck at work so she had to spend all day babysitting her siblings, her dad got mad at her which sparked an anxiety attack and she couldn’t do the homework.
You get the picture. These are all excuses she’s used. There’s even more. I feel bad, as I think she’s getting a lot more leeway than the other students.
Things came to a head when she blamed failing a quiz on the death of the grandmother of a friend.
OP told her she “doesn’t care,” and she still needs to find a way to get her work done.
Today, we had a pop quiz on a reading assignment from last week. This is a normal thing we do on mondays to test who read last week. After the quiz, Krissy came up to my desk as the rest of the kids head to another class. So the grandma of her best friend growing up passed away. She was having a very rough time so Krissy basically spent the entire week with her after school. And just couldn’t get the reading done. She admitted to probably flunking the pop quiz and wanted to retake it later in the week.
I looked at Krissy, sighed, and just said “Krissy, I don’t care. You do this all the time. It’s not fair to the other students, you have to find a way to get your work done. The excuses are not going to work anymore” she started to tear up and plead with me.
When OP suggested the involve her parents, since it seemed as if she was regularly overwhelmed, Krissy refused and left the room in a huff.
I told her if she is really having these serious issues so frequently, we can have her parents come in for a meeting to figure out what we can do.
She insisted that wasn’t necessary and she can’t get her parents involved. I told her that’s her only option. Either she get the work on time done or we sit down with her parents. She left the room while yelling that people like me are the reason her generation has so many mental health problems because “we don’t understand their struggle”.
Am I the a$$hole for how I handled this? I really think I did the best I could.
Was the teacher wrong to lose her patience or is this exactly what Krissy needed to hear? Let’s find out what Reddit thinks below!
Most people think her unwillingness to talk to her parents signal that she knows she’s wrong.
Several commenters believe OP should reach out to the parents anyway, because it’s possible something is going on, even if the excuses are fake.
Even if OP is worried something more might be going on, she still has to start with her parents.
Kids lie, and they often need someone to call them on it.
They really got into parsing every last interaction.
OP gave us an update in which she did speak to the parents and learned that, for the most part, the excuses were untrue. So there’s that.
Edit/ UPDATE: thanks to a lot of your suggestions, I called her mom today at lunch. I actually just got off the phone with them. According to them, they actually did have an issue with an uncle being in the hospital but the other ones are false.
She figured Krissy was on top of all her work since that is what she told them. From now on, mom and dad are promising to be more involved when it comes to her getting her work done.
Problem solved. Thanks everyone !
I think OP did the right thing, here. She gave the kid the benefit of the doubt, probably for longer than she should have, but she also realized when a boundary needed to be drawn.
What would you have done? Let us know what your teacher training says in the comments!