Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Who's opinion really matters - Updated II

The semester is winding down. It officially ends Friday but I'll be turning in my last 2 assignments tonight. I'm glad the one course with the terrible instructor is over and done with. I did get a chance to evaluate the course and it wasn't pretty. I've lost any respect for the instructor I might have had.

To give you an example, I had two "scholarly" papers to write. The first was the beginning section of what will be my final project for my degree. Here's what my instructor said after giving me 30/30 on the assignment: "Overall this paper is really excellent. I cannot see any revisions needed for SEL except maybe move the tows matrix right after the swot before the sbu." I think this paper is a typical example of my work.

For the "other" course, I had to write a supposed scholarly paper on a topic of my choice. I researched the topic and presented my argument in my usual third person style as that's what I think a scholarly paper should be. Here's what my instructor said of my introduction: "This is not a good intro, but will be easy to turn it around." The paper had the following comments after she hacked it: "Try to cut down on any repetition, but keep the ā€œIā€ statements."

I read what she gave me and I thought it was terrible. I definately would not submit work like that. However, getting a good grade is more important than fighting over content so I updated my paper. Again, many thanks to Jammie for reviewing my work and correcting my grammar. She's my guardian angel when it comes to writing. But even she was confused by what my instructor was looking for. Truthfully, however, if I calcualte my grade correctly I need to get better than a 67% on this paper to get an A in the course. I can't imagine my grade would be THAT bad. My research section is very solid. And if the grade isn't what I think I deserve, look out.

My next course doesn't start until May 9 so I've got some down time from school. Besides filling it up with all of the appointments due to kids activities and church/band, I'm doing some recreational reading. I've read Wicked (which I really liked) and am reading the sequal, Son of a Witch. It's nice not to be sweating an assignment for a little bit.

Update - So I went to submit one of my two final papers tonight. This particular assignment was a choice between two topics. I emailed the instructor at the end of February on the topic I was going to do because I had questions on it. I got a response with answers to my questions so I went ahead and wrot the paper to complete before going on vacation. I didn't look at that assignment again until today. And the topic I wrote about was GONE. A DIFFERENT topic replaced it (an easier one BTW). You want to talk about panic? The semester ends FRIDAY and there's no way I can do a good job on a paper in that short period of time.

I've emailed the instructor and am awaiting a response on what to do. There was no notification anywhere that the assignment had changed. I think I should be able to turn in the assignment I did since I had no way of knowing it changed. Why would I check it if I thought the topic I picked was valid? The link was to get the assignment and turn it in. I did get some quick references and sketched out an outline in case I have to write something last minute. But I think it's grossly unfair to do something like that without telling the class. I'm getting penalized for doing work ahead of time. That's total bullshit. If I don't like the answer I get I may contact my advisor on this one. We shall see.

Updated update: My instructor emailed me that she would accept the assignment I did so no additional work needed. Yay! Good thing too since I put about 20 hours into writing something like 27 pages. Wish I'd have known early that I could have done a 5 to 7 page assignment instead.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Vacation Wrap Up

Wednesday of our vacation was spent at the National Aquarium. It was pretty neat. There were lots of cool fish and sharks. There was also an exhibit of Australia with a waterfall and everything. Later that evening we met my Navy buddy for dinner. Excellent meal from the Cheesecake Factory and then we hung out at his place for a while. Thursday was Fort McHenry. We'd seen the real flag from the War of 1812 that the Star Spangled Banner was written about so it was cool to visit the fort. They had the original poem written by Francis Scott Key on display. We had some time left over so we visited the B and O Railroad Museum. That was a blast. Friday was the drive home. It's nice to been able to relax this weekend but back to the normal grind tomorrow. Hope everyone had a wonderful Easter!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Day 2 - Baseball!

Yesterday was our "baseball" day. We took a tour of Oriole Park at Camden Yards and saw the Orioles CRUSH the Twins 11-0. We also found some time to tour the Baltimore Cathedral, the oldest Catholic Church in the US. Today we're going to see the National Aquarium and having dinner with my Navy buddy. Here's a couple of pics!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Day 1 in Baltimore

Here's a couple of picutres from today. We went to Annapolis, toured the US Naval Academy, and had lunch at the Officer's Club with one of my Navy buddies that teaches there. Tomorrow: Baseball! Orioles versus the Twins.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Talking me off the edge

So I was going to wait until yesterday (Wednesday) to get a response from Christopher's teacher on my email and then it was going to get ugly. I had my next email crafted and ready to send to the teacher and the assistant principal. I was ready to go in guns blazing and the consequences be damned. The sleeping tiger was awakened and it was hungry for fresh meat.

And then Ellen talked me off the edge. She told me that before I get mean for the sake of getting mean, I send a email explicitly stating I want an acknowledgement to my first email and that we would get weekly updates. So I told her fine and wrote a new draft that basically said "Didn't hear from you and I'd like a response indicating you understand what we're looking for." She rewrote what I wrote and I edited what she wrote and off the email went. Just to the teacher, no one copied in. The tiger sat down to wait. I fully expected to get to send a scathing email tonight.

Imagine my surprise when I got a response today! Not only a response, but a really helpful one! The teacher thanked me for emailing and filled me in on Christopher's progress this week. I was told Christopher was doing much better and that if he didn't turn in the lab due today I'd get an email. I was told no new was good new on that assignment. I was also told I'd get an update at the end of the week after break.

Damn! I was SOOOO ready to go ballistic! Luckily, this is why I have Ellen in my life. We ran into a similar issue with Nicholas when he was in elementary school. I didn't particularly like the response I got from the school principal about Nicholas so I was ready to go in there and let him have it. But Ellen suggested we talk to someone at the school we trusted who let us know she thought Nicholas would be fine and not to worry. I get that Italian blood going and I won't be satisfied until I wreak some destruction. Ellen pulls me back and makes sure I mind by P's and Q's and that we're very clear before going on the warpath. And she's usually right.

We got both boys' grades today via our parent portal website and both did pretty good. We need stay on top of Christopher's work to make sure he finishes strong. But hopefully we've motivated him enough. Or else. I got more to tell at a later date. We're leaving for Baltimore on vacation on Sunday so I'll be busy packing and getting ready from now until then. But when I get back I BETTER get my first update from the teacher. And I'm sure a gentle reminder email will trigger any loss of memory from a week off.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Preparing to do Battle

Today I did something I wish I could have done sooner. I've begun battle with one of Christopher's teachers. He's been struggling in one of his classes. Some of the issue is of his own making. Last quarter he didn't turn in 10 assignments and got zeros. However, we contacted the teacher to try and do something about it.

Here's how it went: Ellen email the teacher. A week went by with no response. She emailed the teacher again and this time copied in the guidance counselor. Instant response! But a STUPID response. The teacher's comment on Christpher not understanding material was confusion that a student could have difficulty since the teacher has worked with 6 consultants over the years to put together the lesson plan to make it effective. I read between the lines to hear "I'm such a good teacher no one could POSSIBLY have trouble in my class".

I then went to "Take Your Parent to School Day" with Christopher and saw this teacher in action first hand. First of all, the teacher did not say anything to me or acknowledge the conversations we'd had. Second, the teacher spoke to the 9th graders like they were 4th graders. I was not amused. So the teacher told Christopher he could make up half the assignments he missed. He got a few turned in but needed the teacher's help on the last couple. He set up an appointment for the last day of the marking period but the teacher told him they'd help "unless I have a conference". Not wanting Christopher to wait until the last day and then have something come up, I emailed the teacher to let them know Christopher would be trying to get with them earlier in the week. Here's the response: " I set friday as a deadline for those with circumstances that need more time. I have through this friday before the book really closes. I am not collecting any more work form this marking period. We have a good enough representation."

What the fuck is that supposed to mean? We have access to a web site that shows the kids' grades. All the zeros are still there. I beleive this teach flat out lied to my kid. We'll see how the quarterly grade goes but I'm not happy. So today, I sent a nice email to the teacher stating I'm expecting them to email me weekly with updates and immediately if an assignmemt is not turn in. While I said please, there was nothing in the tone of my email that implied it was an option. It was a command prefaced by a please. This teacher has until Wednesday to acknowledge my email or the next one includes the guidance counselor. If I don't get an update, then the next will include the pricipal.

If this teacher thinks I'm an asshole after this first round, just wait. I have no problem marching down to that school and dictating what services they will provide to me and my child. I don't give a rat's ass about their policies or desire to teach the kids to be independent or prep them for college or whatever lame ass excuse they want to give. If I want progres reports from the school, the will damn well give them to me. Yes, people, I'm THAT parent. The one everyone whispers about while staring with eyes wide. Make no mistake, these teachers work for me. My taxes go to pay their salary. Their reason for being is to provide a service to me and my kids. And they will provide me with what I need or else.

I told Christopher that he HAS to do his part and turn in everything so I can back him up. But if this teacher wants to go to war with me, they're going DOWN.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

What's new?

I recall at some point in the past saying I'd post more. Ah, the best of intentions. In any event, just thought I give some updates on stuff. School is wrapping up for the semester. I've got all of my major papers written and all that is left is some editing and group discussions. Glad to get that stuff out of the way. Many thanks to Jammie for proof reading one of my papers. I emailed her on Sunday afternoon (my time) and had it before I went to bed. Have I mentioned how much she rocks? You're the best!

I'm getting biking fever. Mountain bike races are coming up in June and there's some great events this year I'm thinking of attending, including a great mountain biking/camping thing in September the whole family can attend. I also worked with some Scouts last night on their Cycling merit badge and that made me want to ride all the more. Too bad it's wet and cold right now. Oh well, going to start interval training today to get ready for racing.

We're going to Baltimore this year during April break for vacation. I'm excited since we've never been. Also, one of my Navy buddies teaches at the Academy in Annapolis so I'm looking forward to seeing him. It's been at least 10 years since I've seen the guy. That looks to be a good time.

April is a crazy month for us since there's like a million birthdays in our family this month (including mine, Christopher's, Ellen's SIL and niece). Plus, the school year is beginning to wind down a little so there's planning for the summer as well as all kinds of school activities going on right now. Needless to say it's a little hectic in Casa de Franco. If I'm lucky I can keep Ellen from going insane but I'm not holding out hope. But perhaps a little "vacation" for her in a quiet room would do wonders for her. Or perhaps she'll just whack me with a frying pan and feel better. No real news on the work front.

Things are the same so I've stopped worrying about it. No point in getting spun up about what might be. If and when something changes, then I'll figure it out. In the meantime, I'll just keep on taking care of my people and my customers.