The Rules Have Changed


There are a few things that need to be cleared up about the game that is school as it relates to the experiences in my classroom. Yes, I know you were in school and so was I. However, things have changed and what your children will do in my class is probably not what you are used to. I am not making any assumptions of wrong or right, but simply offering a new way of doing things. With that in mind, here are a few “rule changes” you can expect this coming year.
  • Grades will not be a focus. They are simply something I am required to submit but do not necessarily indicate my thoughts on your child. I will use them as checkpoints on the journey of learning, not end points.
  • I am on your team. Teachers and parents should not be sitting on opposite sides of the table. With that in mind, I want to be on the same side of the table learning with and from you.
  • I do not assign homework on a nightly basis. Homework does not equal learning and often discourages it. When I do assign homework it might be to smell a flower or play with a dog.
  •  I am a teacher and you are a parent. When they are in school I will teach. When they are at home you can parent.
  • I will not give your children the answers but simply the means to find them.
  • I am not the expert in the room. I plan on learning for your child as much as they hopefully will learn from me.
  • Extra credit does not exist so please don’t ask for it. Please bring in the tissue boxes but know your child will not get any “credit” for it.
  • I will allow your child to redo or retake any piece of work  they do this year. If I don’t let them redo something they have failed at, they will never learn it.

I hope these changes are not too out there and uncomfortable for you. I truly try to provide the best learning experience possible for your child on a daily basis. Please don’t think I have all the answers because I don’t. The game that is school is constantly changing and so too must my approach as a teacher and yours as a parent. My door is always open and I welcome the conversation at any time as we are on this journey together.


Mr. Stumpenhorst


Heather said...

Thank you so much for putting into words exactly how I feel about grades and homework. I just got home from seeing the movie Race to Nowhere and your letter sums up exactly what I'd like to be able to say to the parents on open house this week.

Try A Little Tenderness With Myself said...

John, I don't know you, but I think I love you. You have summarized my approach and I may post your post at our upcoming Back To School night. Just got back from seeing Race to Nowhere for the first time, am reading Now You See It by Cathy Davidson and am struggling to throw out traditional grading in my classroom toward a more holistic and feedback based approach. Thanks, as always, for setting just the right tone.

Brian Mannix

Laura said...

25 years in.....I still love reading good stuff from other teachers. Thanks.

Unknown said...

Awesome! I am stealing some of these for back to school night. Please never think of taking a position that takes you out of the classroom as it would be a disservice to your kids. Keep it up!

Janet | said...

It's important to be upfront with parents. I find they are especially receptive after they have had time to chuckle with you.

I just wrote a post on preparations for parent night ( Next year, I'll include what you said about giving students the means to finding their own answers.

Janet |

Deb Day said...

These are great--and like Heather said, you put into words exactly how I feel about grades and homework. My goal is for kids to learn something and if they have to do something over again, so be it. Tests, to me, only prove that a kid can memorize something. I'll definitely be sharing!

Muna Abunaser said...

I loved your rules as a parent and as an educator.
Good education= good teachers+good parents+motivated students

Wm Chamberlain said...

If you don't care about the grades, why do you not allow students to do extra credit? Theoretically it would give them another learning opportunity right? Yes, they can make up work the failed at, but couldn't extra credit be construed as a choice they make in lieu of doing something they didn't learn from the first time? Just thinking...

Josh said...


I see your point but I am referring to EC in terms of bringing in tissue boxes for a couple points. I do extension activities and enrichment projects but I don't see those as "extra credit". I guess it depends on how you define extra credit as compared to enrichment or extension.

Shannon said...

I especially love your last note to parents about allowing the students to redo. School has been in for 3 weeks now, but seeing as I let 3 students redo a portion of a test yesterday- I think I will fully implement this policy come Monday.

It really is all about the learning!


cliotech said...

Great post! I very much agree with your positions, especially those regarding homework and your redo policy. Both excellent points!