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Nice Try ….

I only accept writing papers after one-on-one conferences. Each student receives personalized and individual writing instruction — if they show up at their scheduled conferences. They are held during class time, but some kids show up with unfinished papers, and we don’t conference until their work is done. The student’s final paper is usually due the day of the conference. I grade it and return it to them on the spot, while they watch.

Today I called Ami to my desk to speak to her about her assignment. I had a conference with her yesterday over it, and explained her grade to her. I retaught a couple of points on paragraphing, and sequencing, then I returned her paper to her — unfortunately, I had forgotten to put the grade in the grade book.

So today I asked her if she could return the paper to me because I had lost her grade. She said she had already taken it home. I asked her if she remembered the grade. She said she didn’t, but it was an 80-something. I told her that the only thing I remembered for certain, was that I had taken 10 points off because it was late, so — since the mistake was mine — I was going to give her a 90. Was she okay with that? Of course she said yes.

Then I called K.C. to my desk. I showed him the empty spaces in my gradebook and asked him where his three missing assignments were. He pointed at Ami and said. “I turned them in the same time she turned hers in. You must have lost them all together.”

I stared at him until he started to squirm. “What were the papers about?” I asked.

He wiggled some more. “You know,” he said. “You assigned them”

And he didn’t know because he didn’t do them. “K.C.,” I said, “here is your conference card with your scheduled appointments. Do you see the note I made by each one?” I showed him where I had written, not ready. “We haven’t done any conferences. You haven’t had any papers to turn in.”

He repeated forcibly, “I turned them in. You lost them.”

I said, “Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen again. Bring me the assignment you’ve been working on for the last two days so I can see how far you’ve gotten.”

Again he starts to squirm, “I actually haven’t started it yet. I was about to when you called me up here.”

“Uh-huh,” I said, tapping my computer screen. “That’s the same excuse you gave me for everyone of these missing asignments.”

He just turned around and walked away.

Quilly is the pseudonym of Charlene L. Amsden, who lives on The Big Island in Hawaii. When she is not hanging out with Amoeba, she is likely teaching or sewing. Or she could be cooking, taking photographs, or even writing. But if she's not doing any of that, she's probably on Facebook or tinkering with her blog.


  1. If some people put as much effort in the original assignments as they did in their excuses, they’d get alot accomplished.

  2. Venus — when they’re difficult, they’re not cute.

    Bazza — yep. And about to get harder. Any paper not in by Friday will receive a permanent zero in the grade book.

    Pauline — tough love.

    Nessa — you have no idea how often I say that.

  3. Melli — We need digital voice recorders. For the laziness speech press button number one. For the tardiness speech, press button number two …

  4. Here was my routine:

    (opens notebook filled with drawings of rocks)
    What?!?!?! Oh, man! Oh, no!
    (leafs furiously through pages front to back, back to front, front to back)
    I can’t believe this! No way! It was right here!

  5. Doug — I’d clue K.C. in on that, but it wouldn’t help. He could never keep track of the notebook.

    Polona — shhhh, so was I!

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