Teaching Deadlines

We have a daily tutoring program at my school.  About 90% of the student body have daily contact with a teaching adult for 45 minutes every day.  Yes, families pay extra for this service.

The tutor for one of my students wrote to me yesterday:

Today XXXXX asked me if we could  work on his history project, but
when we finally found a guide sheet on how it was to be completed, I had to
explain that this wasn’t just a report on the god.  It was a retelling of a
story in which the god played a part.  So we had to scramble and find one.
The bottom line? There is no way XXXXX will have this power point
finished by Tuesday.  I don’t see him tomorrow in tutoring because he leaves so
early for a sports tournament.  There is no tutoring on Monday because of the
service day.  Then comes Tuesday.  He doesn’t have his laptop because his
father took it away over vacation.  Can you extend the due date for this
project?

I wrote back, and said no.

I don’t even know what to say to a parent who takes his child’s laptop away from him, when that parent knows full well that the student is in a class where he uses it every day.  But I’ve written evening library passes to any student who asked for them, to go use the computers there.  I’ve explained this project one-on-one to this student and to his class at least four times this past week.

On the other hand, I’ve had more trouble with inappropriate use conversations this week in class than ever before this year.  Kids have been goofing off, not searching for images for their presentations, or developing a script for their presentation.  There’s eleven kids in one class, and I had to direct every single child back on task at least twice this week; most have been pushed to return to task at least three times a class.

I’m not sure why PowerPoint has been such a sticking-point for so many students.  But I can’t understand, either, why a tutor would push so hard (this kind of missive is unusal) for a student to receive an exemption for her child.

Ira Socol tells the story of the professor who made him write a paper to the acutal deadline, which I found inspiring. (and of course I can’t find it right now; if you know which one I mean, please let me know so I can Hat Tip to you and to him).

How do you handle such requests? Did I do the right thing? Or should I have handled it differently?

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