That’s just (expletive) wrong!

Today was one of the more bizarre days in my journey as a second career teacher.  At the end of an after school meeting focused on explicit direct instruction (EDI), a fellow teacher, who I really do not know, asked me what seemed like a series of innocuous questions, which, after I answered, rapidly led to an expletive laced statement directed my way: “that’s just (f-word) wrong!”  I was a little taken aback by the profanity, and the negative energy it carried.  What ensued lasted what seemed like an eternity, but likely spanned only a couple of minutes, and the same expletive came at me repeatedly during the harangue.  I might have tossed one or two back during the tirade.

What answer did I give that led to this situation?  Well, I said, “Yes, that student is in my class.”  After a few follow-up questions about my grading specifics, an f-bomb was hurled my way.  Why?  Unbeknownst to me, this teacher was riled up after speaking a few moments earlier with a student we shared; the student told the teacher why he had a D+ grade in my class when the online grade book showed a fifty percent overall score.  While the student properly stated that cut point, the student erred when saying a 70% was an A; an 85% is an A- on my grading scale.

After the first expletive, I managed to extract from this teacher a possible cause for its use.  The district grading scale, which this teacher uses, mirrors the traditional 90-100% for an A, 80-89% for a B, and etcetera scale, which differs greatly from mine and students complained to this teacher about the different scales.  While I can understand that dilemma, I cannot see how the approach taken could engender any empathy from me, much less my desire to stick around for the next volley.  At the same time, I  replied to the email later, stating I am willing to discuss our differences if it is conducted in a professional manner.  No response yet.

I am still stunned by the events of this afternoon, and hope there are no repeats to come.  However, I do not have any time to dwell on this now as I need to finish creating three tests for tomorrow: 1) applications of differentiation, 2) introductory differential equations, and 3) quadratic equations.

My new profession does not cease to amaze me.



It’s good to know that the world is not as crazy as it might seem.  My colleague replied to my email with a sincere apology for yesterday’s events.  I have tremendous respect for their having done so.  It is not easy to admit mistakes at times.  I hope this flash point type of situation is not too common going forward.  With all the pressure placed on teachers these days, I am not surprised everyone’s patience might be wearing thin.

Happy Friday to everyone!

About Dave aka Mr. Math Teacher

Independent consultant and junior college adjunct instructor. Former secondary math teacher who taught math intervention, algebra 1, geometry, accelerated algebra 2, precalculus, honors precalculus, AP Calculus AB, and AP Statistics. Prior to teaching, I spent 25 years in high tech in engineering, marketing, sales and business development roles in the satellite communications, GPS, semiconductor, and wireless industries. I am awed by the potential in our nation's youth and I hope to instill in them the passion to improve our world at local, state, national, and global levels.
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8 Responses to That’s just (expletive) wrong!

  1. Mike says:

    The whole situation sounds kind of funny to me. Unless you are giving the same tests and assignments there is no way to compare grading scales. Who is to say it isn’t harder to get an 85% in your class than to get a 90% in another class? Having the same grading scale is good for appearances, but teachers should understand that it is somewhat arbitrary. This person wasn’t a math teacher, were they?


    • Nope. I tried to explain but was cut off…I cannot believe how sacrosanct specific numbers and processes become with little to no insight into their origins, applicability, variability, etc. I guess its easier to believe we live in a deterministic world…


      • CA Maestra says:

        >I cannot believe how sacrosanct specific numbers and processes become with little to no insight into their origins, applicability, variability, etc.

        This pretty much sums up my feelings toward most educational data being tossed around on the policy level. The more I get into administrative duties instead of teaching duties, the more I realize just how much bad data is truly out there. I may be an English teacher, but I love me some good data, and seeing data collected and used in an entirely inaccurate and inappropriate manner just makes me want to scream. But it seems like very few people actually understand proper data collection and disaggregation methodology, much less bother to use it.


  2. Jack says:

    Was this teacher upset that you were not “following the rules?” or do did he feel like you were violating one of the covenants of teaching itself with your heretical grading policy? Regardless, I too find it funny (in a sad way) that someone would ardently defend our existing grading system. Wow.


  3. Russ Towne says:

    I liked your epilogue, Dave. I see how much stress teachers are under every day as my wife returns home. Hang in there! The world needs more teachers like my wife and you!


    • Thanks, Russ. Its a shame that teachers are under such pressure with so little support and then blamed for not accomplishing the impossible…a sad indictment indeed of how our nation undervalues public education, yet our very survival as a country depends upon it…


  4. Fawn Nguyen says:

    Mike is right, comparing teachers’ grading scales is like comparing apples and tofu. Sorry this even happened, but good thing the colleague apologized, stress seemed the culprit. Happy weekend, Dave.


    • Totally agree, Fawn. In fact, while the entire drama enfolded, I kept thinking to myself “how ridiculous that anyone thinks there is any validity, reliability, or repeatability to grading scales, cut scores, etc between any two different assessments, much less across subjects, or specific teachers…” I just wanted sanity to sink in with my colleague but that had to wait a few more hours…

      You have a great weekend, too!


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