Teacher Writes “WTF is this?” On A Student’s Assignment And Causes Controversy

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When teachers give their students an assignment, they know that the written results will be a mixed bag at best. Grading student papers is a journey of highs and lows… and the lows can be REALLY low.

While teachers can identify students that clearly tried & struggled with an assignment, they can also tell when a kid obviously couldn’t be bothered & tried to pass off a steaming pile of dog poo as a legit homework.

We’re onto you, kiddos!

As a former high school English teacher, I can tell you that some student work so clearly lacked any effort that reading it would evoke a shake of my head and frequent muttering of, “What the F-” as my red pen flew across the page.

But while I may have THOUGHT that about some student homework, I sure as hell wouldn’t have WRITTEN it. 

A physics teacher at Rutherford High School in Springfield, FL. has recently come under fire for her decision to write “WTF is this?” as her feedback on a student’s written assignment.

Photo Credit: KTVZ.com

When the student brought home his graded assignment, his mother was disturbed by the teacher’s questionable choice of wording used to express her disapproval. Mother Melinda Smith explained to Panama City’s news station WJHG that her son’s lack of credit on the assignment wasn’t the issue:

It wasn’t anything about not getting the credit, it was more so the language about what the writing to students. that was very inappropriate and not acceptable for a teacher whatsoever.

So while Smith didn’t object to her son losing total credit on the assignment, she felt that the teacher’s choice to write “WTF” (as we all know, a common form of cuss slang) was unprofessional. 

Photo Credit: KTVZ News 21

Melinda Smith contacted Rutherford school authorities in the hopes that the district would reprimand the teacher, suggesting that “something be placed in her file”.

Rutherford High School Principal Coy Pilson was interviewed on camera by several news outlets regarding the alleged incident, and explained that the district was taking Smith’s concerns seriously. He stated that he is already taking “all of the necessary steps to deal with it”, explaining to reporters that:

Once we were notified, I notified district officials and our HR has been involved, and they’re currently investigating the situation.

Photo Credit: KTVZ News 21

Pilson made it clear that he already spoken to the teacher in question about the matter, and that she has opted not to respond publicly.

While it is not yet determined what, if any disciplinary consequences the teacher will face, Pilson claimed that:

The teacher was apologetic, and admits that it was a mistake on her part.

Yup, definitely not a great choice on the teacher’s part. But Principal Pilson also emphasized that although he’s certainly not making light of the matter, teachers are also human. As he told news outlet WJHG, he personally regards the teacher’s actions as a momentarily lapse of better judgement rather than a consistently poor performance:

We make mistakes, but we understand that we are called to a high professional standard. And when we make mistakes, we try to correct those mistakes and move forward.

The issue seems to be: mistake or not, how should it be addressed moving forward?

Personally, I don’t think writing a form of slang cussing on a student paper -even if it’s slang that many teens themselves use daily- is a good example to set for students. Teachers can have a great rapport with students without trying to be on the same level.

Although teachers can still be fun & relatable, they still need to maintain a sense of professionalism. While “WTF” is now an extremely common expression, I don’t think it should be part of the grading process. 

BUT- while I disagree with the teacher’s wording choice, I’m not sure what “disciplinary action”, if any, is appropriate. Is this single action a fireable offense? Is it worth a letter in the file? Maybe a “slap on the wrist” in the form of a verbal warning? 

As a parent, how would you feel if the same comment was written on your own teenager’s paper, & what do you deem an suitable response?

See how our own Meredith Masony (a former teacher herself) has to say about it:

WTF….

What do you think of what this teacher wrote on this high school students paper??? As a former teacher…I have a few things to say about it.

Posted by That's Inappropriate on Thursday, May 30, 2019

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Stephanie Ortiz is a SAHM of 6 who still can't quite figure out how she deviated from her original life plan of traveling the globe as a single, mad professor with too many cats & no kids. She enjoys blogging in her spare time, because it's cheaper than therapy. Her work has appeared in Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, The Daily Mail, Reader's Digest, & The Steve Harvey Show. She may maintain the facade of a mature, suburban housewife, but she's really an overgrown teenager that still enjoys pranking friends & air-guitaring to Nine Inch Nails. Find her at her blog, Six Pack Mom, or on Twitter.

1 COMMENT

  1. Frankly, the mother is a dolt, which is why, frankly, the child is a dolt. As a teacher, I have thought WTF many a time each and every day for the last 25 years. Would I say it to a student or write it on their paper? NO. However, Helicopter Mom didn’t have to go to the news, she could have contacted the teacher first – BAD form HeliMom! As a parent, if my child came home with that written on their paper I would lambast my child and have them do it over to a very high standard before they did anything else. I would then contact the teacher and suggest to him/her that ‘WTF’ probably should not be a part of his/her grading repertoire. Unfortunately, today’s parents are raising a crop of sheeple that seem unable to cope with any type of criticism, constructive or otherwise. Not good. Scary times.

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