Unchanging Standards in every Middle School Classroom

In my grade book today, I posted the assignment description that is list below.  I did it because, in my district and in turn at my school, there is a movement toward not holding children accountable for missing deadlines for due dates.  

I disagree with that approach, and I wanted to make it clear.  

I am absolutely in agreement that every effort should be made to help the middle school student realize that if they make some effort at some point to meet a deadline, they will get some credit for that. However, dismissing the importance of meeting a deadline is not something that I support. 

So, I wrote this:

Students were required to turn in their chorus shirt sizes and $20 for the shirt or a request for sponsorship.  They had four days to meet the deadline to receive 100%.  If they were unable to afford the shirt, they were told repeatedly that we can sponsor them, but they still had to turn in their shirt sizes like everyone else along with a note requesting sponsorship so that we could order them the proper sized shirt.  Reminders were sent to parents and students via "Remind" and via my email list on which I have a majority of parents in my program.  All were invited to participate in "remind" and the email list via the syllabus.  Most signed up.  Some do not, but I know that every effort was made on my part to help the child succeed by requesting parents to read and sign the syllabus. Students who are using the shirt of an older sibling were told they must still turn in a note telling us that information in order to get a 100.  This was due by 9 AM Friday.  Parents were here daily to collect $, shirt sizes  and sponsorship notes starting Tuesday.  We collected two more days passed the due date as well.  Cash or money order were the acceptable forms of payment, and of course sponsorship notices were encouraged for those in need.  

Every effort was made.

As teachers, most reasonable people would agree that it is important to teach the standards of responsibility and accountability.  This is a standard that does not ebb and change with the educational fads of the moment, and is one that will serve children well for a lifetime.  When they realize that NOT meeting a deadline is important, they are more likely to start meeting deadlines, and as a result, they are more likely to succeed in their endeavors.   When one misses a deadline for a bill payment, one is held accountable.  We are most often given a second chance with a penalty.  And if we don't pay the bill, we ultimately lose access to the service.  

I follow a similar philosophy with my students, and it is one of the most important reasons my program is as successful as it is. 

My 333 students are always given a second and third chance about which I remind them often.  It is also up to the parents to help them seek it.   I am their teacher, but I am not their parent.  My approach to quizzes is the same.  When a child fails, I give them chances to raise their grades by coming to me for tutoring during homeroom time.  No special transportation is required because the children are already here at that time.  Most will seize the moment.  However, some will not.  It is the nature of human beings, but I always want to feel 100% that I've worked to reach them all, so that is what I do.   

People change when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.  

This applies to children as well as adults.  

Thank you for your support in helping our children succeed by meeting the unchanging standard of responsibility and accountability.

March 16, 2016-  After posting this, I found a blog post that speaks well about this subject.  Give it a read...especially if you are a teacher in Georgia!  Click here!
Creator of S-Cubed Middle School Sight Singing Program for Beginners!
My YouTube Channel with teaching tips and teaching examples for the middle school chorus teacher.


  1. I just got a job at a new middle school, and I have enjoyed using your sight reading method with my students. Our district is also changing our grading policies. The most emphasized point was "no zeros".

    The way I see it is that the mark we put on the report card should mean something - in most school systems, it tells as much about how organized they were as it does about whether they actually learned the content.

    However, "the system" treats that mark as if it only indicates how well the student learned the content. GPAs, college admissions, etc, etc.

    Assuming our goal should actually be to communicate only how well a student knows the content, (because that is what stakeholders take those marks to mean), then we can't take things like organization skills (turning work in on time), or even whether a student failed early on, into account when calculating that grade. What matters, and what should be graded (again, under these assumptions) is what the student knows at the end of the course. Nothing more, nothing less.

    Of course, when I first heard that, my reaction was "but if they aren't going to get zeros for missing work, they won't do it! (they aren't being held accountable)".

    In the current system, though, what happens is some students care about grades, and others don't. The "don'ts" just take their F, don't really care, and its a waste of everyone's time. Our administration has put into place systems to ensure that these missing assignments are completed. "Learning is mandatory". You aren't allowed to opt out, just because you don't care if you get an F. So they are held accountable. If they miss a due date, they spend some of their quality time doing homework instead of something fun.

    Its a new system for the district, so it will take time to iron out and implement. Our math instructors just went through an overhaul, and they really like it now.

    Just some thoughts. I really like your method, my kids love it and ask for it if we miss a day :)

    1. Thanks for reading and thanks for input! So glad S-Cubed is working for you!

      I've noticed over the years, at least in my own state, there is a movement toward reaching into our classroomss more and more in order to tell us how we can or cannot grade or how we can or cannot deliver material.

      My unchanging belief will always be to hire good teachers and then get out of their way and let them teach.

      For the teachers who need help, support them and help them get better so that their children learn.