When I was in middle school (about a million - or 25 - years ago), if there was an issue with grades, a note was sent home. Otherwise, my parents did not know what my grades would be until report cards came out. And it wan’t a big deal. When I struggled with French, they knew about it because I told them I was bombing the quizzes. Fine.

But now... now we have a Parent Portal through which I can see each and ever grade my kiddo earns. Great, right? Well, it turns out that, depsite receiving NO training on how to use this website, I am expected to constantly check up on my kiddo’s grades, and talk to him about any missing/low-grade work. But how am I supposed to know if an assignment is MISSING or has simply NOT BEEN GRADED yet? I don’t want to bug an overworked teacher who just hasn’t gotten around to grading something!

Turns out that my normally very bright kiddo is getting a C- in Math - a subject he loves! Because of missing/incomplete work. When I looked at the grades online (finally figuring out how to do that now almost half way through the year), I emailed the math teacher to find out what was going on. His response: “BabyBear is missing several exams and assignments. This information has been available to you in the Parent Portal for several weeks.”

Dude. You could have emailed me! You could have mentioned it to BabyBear! You could have mentioned this when I was in at Parent/Teacher conferences a month ago, when some of these were already “missing.” Instead, you gave me a nebulous “BabyBear needs to try harder” and did not provide ANY clue as to what this meant! NONE of the work that is missing is stuff he can do at home. It ALL has to be done in YOUR classroom over lunch. I asked BabyBear if his math teacher ever mentioned to him that he was missing assignments/exams - he had no idea. And for at least 2 of those, that was fair, as he HAD turned them in, and the math teacher had simply put them in the wrong pile. How was I supposed to know this? How hard would it have been to say “Hey, BabyBear, you’re missing some work. Please come in over lunch and get that stuff done.” Even now, he’s getting caught up, but I don’t see the new grades posted... how long do I wait before emailing the teacher?? I can’t imagine that the teacher wants a daily “This is what BabyBear appears to be missing, what is he REALLY missing” email from me, but that’s the direction we’re headed in.

I work hard at NOT being a “helicopter parent” or a “lawnmower parent” and here is the school, forcing me to check my kiddos’ grades daily to make sure that he’s not missing things. I tried to help him be self-sufficient with his school work, and encourage him to address issues with his teachers himself, but now he’s staring at a C- for the semester unless he can magically pull it up by getting work done over lunches. He thought he was getting things done, and now he’s looking at getting kicked out of the accellerated math class. Gah.

Does he need to keep a closer eye on his own grades? Yes. Is he a 12-year-old boy who needs some guidance from his teachers when things go missing? Also yes. Should his teacher keep an eye on grades overall, and reach out to those kiddos who are clearly not getting something? Also yes.

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I teach adults in an online course, and when they are struggling, I email! I call! I let them know that they are missing work, and therefore at risk for failure! If I am doing this for adults, why is this dude not doing this for 12 year olds?

And I have not set the Parent Portal to send alerts to my phone every time something is graded. I HATE the dings on my phone. They are sending my anxiety through the roof.