Clarification, s’il vous plait

On Monday, we received a progress report for Maya’s Core Class, and there was a comment in the appropriate field that said, “Missing Work”. Her grade thus far in the class is an A-, so I wasn’t too worried. (I don’t worry too much about grades anyway, but at this school, Core is English and Social Studies, which are Maya’s two favorite classes, so if she’s not doing the work, that would surprise me. Actually, she always does her work, so it would surprise me even if it were a class that weren’t her favorite.)

So I thought about it a bit, and sent the teacher an email:

Dear Ms. Core Teacher,

We received Maya’s progress report in the mail, and I have one question. In the comments section, it says, “Missing Work”. I know that Maya neglected to turn in an assignment early on, but I assume she’s doing better in this regard, as her grade thus far is an A-. My question is, is there something you want her to do regarding the work she did not turn in? Even though it’s a month later now, do you want her to turn it in now? Or do some extra credit to make up for it? Or do you think she’s fine now, and just wanted to notify us that this was a problem at the beginning of the year? Or, has she missed other assignments more recently?



My thought was, if this is important enough for the teacher to send home a report, maybe I shouldn’t just say, “oh, missing work”, and ignore it, assuming it was the one assignment I already knew about, and which Maya says she didn’t know was supposed to be turned in. She doesn’t lie, so I believe her. But maybe there was more action required on my part, or maybe the teacher wanted Maya to do something about the missing work. I received this reply:

I sent the progress report so you would be aware that Maya doesn’t always do her homework. Because she works diligently in class and does a great deal of her homework, it isn’t affecting her grade much at this point. That may not always be true. Some parents prefer to be notified if there’s any missing work, especially early on in the quarter. At the time I had to turn in progress report requests, Maya had a C-. I entered grades after my report date which changed her overall grade to an A-. This indicates to me, that Maya is getting better at the routines of sixth grade.

There’s no need to sign or return anything. I do appreciate that you contacted me with questions. Thanks, Core Teacher

OK, this is 90% OK…she’s adjusting, she’s doing well, etc. But this comment got me: Maya doesn’t always do her homework. Really? How often is this happening? When I talked to Maya about this early on, it was just one assignment…but Maya doesn’t always do her homework? That’s not the Maya I know, so now I’m concerned. So I write back.

Thank you Core Teacher,

Can you please clarify to me whether she is missing assignments recently, or if this was just at the beginning of the school year, and how many assignments she has missed? If it was one or two things at the beginning of the year, when she was adjusting, etc., I am not concerned. If it is an ongoing problem, then it is something that we need to address.


To which I received the following clarification:

We’re sending a detailed progress report home today for math, science, and core. As I look back, it was only one assignment in social studies that brought her down. It was worth a number of points. I ended up giving her some credit for the work done in class. I don’t think there’s anything to worry about. Core Teacher

Do you see how a little bit of clarity at the beginning would have been more useful? Like, if she had said, “Oh, Maya missed one assignment that was worth a number of points, which had me concerned early on, but she’s a diligent worker, and has turned in everything since then. It is school policy to notify you when work is missed, which is why you received that comment on her progress report.” I would then have said, “Oh, OK, no problem”, and gone about my day.  This is a teacher that Maya really likes, and I liked what she had to say at back to school night about the class and her teaching plans, etc.  I wonder if the teacher will learn anything from this experience, and will be more clear in the future?

16 thoughts on “Clarification, s’il vous plait

  1. Yes, I can see where this communication (or lack thereof) from the teacher is unclear. I’m glad you got that resolved.

    “Maya doesn’t always do her homework” that comment would get my hackles up especially if I KNEW my child was doing her homework.

  2. I am glad the teacher clarified. Instead of “Maya doesn’t always do her homework” she could have said “Earlier in the year Maya missed an assignment, which always causes me concern as to possible habits forming from early on. She has, since the, turned everything in so there is no further reason to believe that the will be a problem.”
    Or something like that. It’s a good thing I am not a teacher.

    I sometimes wonder if teachers have a pat list of responses to parents that they choose from…a one size fits all of sorts. Or maybe they are answering so many emails from parents. I wish that were true but my son’s 2nd grade teacher said there were only 3 of us who kept in constant contact. Funny side note: One of the parent’s user names was XXXHottyPants or something like that. Now, wouldn’t you use a generic email addy if you were going to contact a teacher? Sorry for going on.

  3. ML, I’ll admit…my hackles were up a bit with that one…I think we’re ok now. 😉

    Mrs. Grumpy, I LOVE that she’s still XXXHottyPants. Way too funny. I would defininately choose something more appropriate if I were her, however. Like Mrsboringsuburbanmom or something, to throw the set off of my hotty pants!

  4. That was an odd statement for her teacher to have written about her. If it was only one assignment, how can she justify saying that “Maya doesn’t always do her homework?” I’m glad the situation is resolved! We’ve had our share of teachers who are poor communicators. UGH!

  5. hmmm I would have been very frustrated at this. Why would she write something like that?? oh well. I’m glad that it’s fine and Maya really likes this teacher. Although, I’m not so sure I do!

  6. I would have thought the same thing if I had read that.

    Clarification was definitely needed!

    Nice job in getting it, although it seemed in such a roundabout way!

  7. Call me out of date, but How cool that you can EMAIL your kid’s teachers?
    Back in the day my mom only talked to my teachers if she had to. I wonder if getting in touch with a teacher were that easy, if she had been more involved. Eh, probably not! She can hardly figure out email now!

    I thought it was funny when you were telling me about this, how I got all in a huff and defensive for you and Maya. I do believe I called this teacher, who I do not know, a name or two!

  8. Good for you as the parent to:
    1. believe your child and be an advocate for her
    2. continue communicating with the teacher until clarity was achieved.

    It would be nice if the teacher learned something, but I find it disturbing that she gave you just enough information to make you think one way when the reality was almost a 180 degree difference. Hmmm.

  9. I think Mrs Grumpy has it about right. That is to say teachers probably have standard answers to parent questions when it comes to email. Still, an A- and a progress report saying that “Maya doesn’t always do her homework?” Overkill.

  10. Yeah, the teacher should have been clearer up front on that. But I think you handled it tactfully and now you can sleep easily at night knowing the homework is done. I encounter those kinds of random remarks from my kids preschool teachers and have to always press for more details. It can get really frustrating.

  11. That’s great that you were able to clear that up with a couple of e:mails. But it would have been so much simpler as you mention, if she had noted it was a one time thing to begin with! Raising red flags where there aren’t any isn’t helping anyone either.
    I know my son’s school report cards are computer generated, so they often sound very impersonal, “canned” so to speak, and I’ve relied on a lot of speaking personally with the teachers so far. But then I’ve been lucky because I’m at home right now, so I have the flexibility to be in their face and get to know them. A lot of working moms don’t have that luxury.

  12. Geez, I would hope that the teacher learned something! I know it’s a pain to prepare reports and stuff like that, but a little note explaining anything out of the ordinary would certainly help.

    Good thing you’re such an on-the-ball, level-headed mom 🙂

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