Monday, November 22, 2010

If He Used His Brain He Wouldn't Be Such ...

"I"m right and you are wrong."  [Discussion over]

The department meeting was just as joyful as I predicted it would be.

We were told that if we teach higher level classes we have to write college recommendations, it is our obligation and duty.  Even if we don't know the students that well, we can always check transcripts online and have them give us resumes.

Teaching AP calculus is a higher level class and I write tons of recommendations. I like to include anecdotes and personal information, things that would convince the person reading what I wrote that I knew the student well.  I want the reviewer to be swayed by what I write, convinced that what I am saying is true and that the school should take him/her.  Over the years, I've realized that I don't have enough to write about when I only know the students since September, a few short months.  Even when the kids are doing well in the beginning,  I've seen some develop severe case of senioritis and blow off their senior year.  I often wish I could retract the recommendation I wrote.

This year I decided not to write recommendations for kids I only know a short time, the exception being the kids who have gone above and beyond by volunteering to tutor another student.  I've been unyielding and will continue to do so.  Good students should be able to go back to former teachers, teachers who really know them and get the recommendations they need.  The college counselor told me a tenth grade teacher who knows the student well can write a recommendation that will be accepted by the college.  (A certain person who shall remain nameless here does not agree with that.  Where that person gets the information from, is beyond me.)  In fact, he recommends the student go to this tenth grade teacher for an in depth recommendation rather than the superficial recommendation I could supply.  He also said there is no right or wrong answer as to who should write the recommendation.

I was always under that conference meant discussion, a bringing together of different ideas and a chance to arrive a conclusions beneficial to all.  "I'm right and you are wrong" is not the way to have a conversation.

6 comments:

Rho said...

I was given this piece of advise on how to get a letter of recommendation from a busy person: write the letter yourself and ask him/her to sign it.
Suggest to the student that he or she write his or her own recommendation letter that you can then use to confirm with teachers that know the student better. If you get confirmation from the other teachers, sign the letter.

Pissed Off said...

A lot of my students are new immigrants and cannot write the letter themselves, or at least not a letter I would be willing to sign.

There are just too many for me to start chasing down other teachers. The other teachers can write the recommendations.

Anonymous said...

Well, this sounds like a way to cheapen the process. A recommendation should have meaning, and if a teacher knows that students well enough rather than someone who only knows the students a few weeks, then it makes sense. The only suggestion I would give you is to start the letter with...So and so has been a student of mine of 6 weeks. In that time....

It covers your ass. Of course not all students even in an AP class may deserve a letter, and I would refuse to write one. The AP in my former school tried to get 5th grade teachers to write a letter for a kid they all agreed didn't deserve a letter. So she went to a different grade and found an ass-kisser who would do it. So much for the regard of teachers and their opinions.

Mrs. Widget said...

I do that too.

Any time a student requests a recommendation I say "give me a bio, tell me everything about yourself so I can make sure I do not forget anything. So I can say like hes a leader because he co captains the football team."

Then I wait. If they want the recommendation bad enough, they respond. If not the chore is on them.

Anonymous said...

Have you spoken to your chapter chairman? I do not believe there is anything that requires any teacher to write even a single recommendation, and if anyone insists you do so can, it probably be grieved. (unless it's your D-1, or whatever they're calling the professional assignment these days). I understand we all want to be helpful to the students, but it is a choice, not a requirement, as I understand it.

Pissed Off said...

The CL will get involved if necessary. He knows about the issue.