There we were again. Once again my 10th grade student, whom we’ll call Dan, was throwing a tantrum in class over his test grade.
He got an 87.
Which is a very nice grade for a fairly high level exam. But it wasn’t a grade of 100 or at least one that is over 90 , which is marked with a different color in our computer grading system.
The tantrum was somewhat milder than the previous incident when he threw the test into the trashcan, stormed out of the classroom and shouted some more, so as to attract the attention of more teachers.
Dan has a particularly loud voice even when he is not shouting. Not only does he come from one of those families in which the volume of daily communication is turned up high, he is one of those hard of hearing people who hear themselves well when they speak very loudly. In addition, his tone is often very aggressive. This attitude has served him well in life and compensates a bit for his learning disability – it seems that people are willing to do a lot just to get him to quiet down. It is quite difficult to have meaningful conversations with Dan as he is always ready to go into “confrontation mode”.
I tried to tell him before he got the test back that I was really proud of him. I knew he had actually studied for the test and had done all the practice work. I was there when the class took the test and I saw that he really had made every effort.
I told Dan that I was proud of him and that I wanted to post about his achievement on our “I’m proud of YOU!” board.
Dan refused. He was gearing up for his tantrum. It’s purpose was to get me to add 3 points to his grade.
I didn’t. He tried to get my lovely co-teacher to do it but she wouldn’t do it either.
Two days later I had the opportunity to talk to him outside of class. I told him how disappointed I felt that he wouldn’t let me celebrate his achievement by posting on the board (I don’t post about students without their permission.). Dan replied that only when he gets a perfect grade of 100 he will grant me permission.
That’s when I had a moment of inspiration and said:
“I wouldn’t want to post about you if you had gotten a grade of 100. No way. That would have meant the test was really easy for you. I want to post about how much effort you put into studying for this test (which was not easy) and then did really well. I don’t post about kids for getting perfect scores”.
He actually listened to me. Not something to sneeze at.
Then Dan smiled, started walking away and shouted back:
“Then you should post about me on the board!”