#10: “It is too hard.” I’ve been surprised by the growing number of very bright and otherwise successful students that are afraid of failure. When a task is too hard they want to quit or get out of the class. Often the reason stated is that a low grade will have a negative impact on their GPA. My philosophy has always been any student who wanted to pass and was willing to work for it would. This has meant that I have helped students on my own time, given extra projects or tutoring. All the student had to do was either request help or respond to my offer to help them through the class. Part of life is learning to handle failure and overcome obstacles. Students should be commended for taking difficult tasks and not allowed to avoid them.
#9: “It isn’t fair to give us a quiz over the reading assignment.” I found that many students believed reading assignments were optional therefore refused to do them.
#8: “It is the teacher’s fault I’m failing. My being late to class, not listening and refusing to work has nothing to do with it.” In a parent-teacher conference the mother actually wanted me to sign a waiver saying I was unable to teach her daughter. The waiver basically stated I didn’t know how to teach. The purpose of the waiver was to allow her daughter to take the class on-line for free. Yep, that’s right instead of backing the teacher or addressing her daughter’s behavior the mom blamed me.
#7: “What do you mean it is wrong I followed the picture in the book?” I thought a computer applications course that used Microsoft Office. The text included very detailed instructions on how to complete the assignments as well as illustrations. I always had students who just looked at the pictures instead of reading the instructions. They just didn’t want to read.
#6: “My arms are too long” This one actually came from a friend who teaches on the secondary level. He had a student tell him that he couldn’t work because his arms were to long for the desk. The desk was a standard chair/desk combo found in many high schools and colleges. No, the student isn’t a budding basketball star. He is around 6 feet or maybe a little less.
#5: “It was the teachers fault I got written up for cheating and failed the test.” I was tired of my students cheating on tests so I had the computer generate a different form for each student. During the test a couple of students asked why they had a different test from their neighbors. After the test one of the students asked if they each had a different test. It was the same student who noticed during the test there were different form,s asked if this was because I thought they were cheating. This caused several of the students to become upset that I was framing them for cheating. Well, one budding rocket scientist went home and told his mother I accused him of cheating and framed him for it. In the parent conference, he told his mom this was unfair because he wrote down the same answers as X so he should have gotten the same grade.
#4: “Student: I didn’t know the project counted 1/3 of my grade or when it was due.”
Me: It was listed on the class syllabus, the monthly assignment sheet, on the project form you turned in at the beginning of the grading period and on the assignment board in class.
Parent: Well my child can’t remember assignments and I didn’t know about the assignment either.
Me: I have your signature on the syllabus, monthly assignment sheet and project form.
Parent: You should communicate deadlines and expectations better.
#3: “Unlike you I have a life and can’t be expected to do homework or show up to school on time.” The student was trying to convince me to give a passing grade in a computer art class. The student begin my telling me how embarrassing it would be to fail an art class. After listening to the student’s begging and sob story I offered a solution. The student could come in after school for 2 weeks plus complete a research paper at home. It was funny how fast the student’s attitude changed from desperation to indignant that I would expect the student to work for the grade.
#2: “I have ADHD and forgot to take my medicine.” My response: Neither did I go sit down and work. ADHD is real and it is not an acceptable excuse for poor behavior. Medicine is one tool for controlling ADHD. The secret for ADHD is to find the proper balance and tools to control it. Under control ADHD can be a secret weapon to go a little farther and get more things done.
#1: “I can’t learn because I’m too dumb. I have SLD.” SLD means specific learning disability. Working in adult education it is really painful to see adults who have bought in to the lie that somehow a learning disability makes them unable to succeed. Many feel that because learning is hard they are just plain dumb. Like me others have had teachers tell them they were stupid. To be learning disabled one must have an average or higher IQ. Approximately 1/3 of individuals with a learning disability are in the gifted range. A learning disability means you have to learn differently.