Classroom Policies

Domus Minervae

Wasfi Akab via Compfight

Instructor: Mrs. Jodie Morgenson (A.K.A. Mrs. M.)

Classes: English 9, English 10, Advanced Speech and Creative Writing, Waverly High School


Respect for ourselves guides our morals; respect for others guides our manners.

– Laurence Sterne



I have two rules.

  1.   I expect RESPECT. I expect that you show yourself, others (including me) respect. (Be nice.)
  2.  I expect LEARNING. In this class, we will be learning at all times. (Work hard.)

We will not stop learning because there is always a new way to grow. Sometimes we do this through something fun, other times we might engage in something a little more tedious. Nothing we do in this class is purposeless though. Everything I ask of you is designed to help you acquire the knowledge and skills that will help you to achieve your life goals no matter your aspirations. I will do my best to make the purpose of each activity obvious, but, if something is unclear, just ask. I want you to hold me accountable! If you fulfill these two expectations while in my class, everything will go rather smoothly between us! I’m fairly easy-going until I HAVE TO be serious.

The respectful learner …

  • is on time.  
  • is present (or makes plans for when s/he cannot be present.   
  • completes assignments on time.
  • studies for tests.
  • uses in-class time wisely.
  • exhibits curiosity whenever possible!
  • prepares for large projects.
  • helps others when they need help.
  • honors others’ differences, appreciates similarities and expresses interest in learning about other people and their lives.
  • abstains from unsafe behavior.
  • is polite.
  • knows his or her own learning style and respectfully advocates for him or herself when necessary.
  • refrains from inciting others to behave disrespectfully and avoids taking on the role of “student lawyer.” (I meet with student lawyers at 4:30 PM on Fridays.)
  • is willing to try new things and take risks in the spirit of learning.
  • takes ownership of his/her own learning.
  • thinks critically.
  • asks for help when it is needed.
  • communicates* openly with the teacher and peers regarding matters of learning, including homework, studying, test preparation, project work, group work conflicts and any other academic struggles encountered.

*Communication is the key to understanding. If I don’t know something about you, I might have trouble empathizing with you. If you clue me in on a situation that has prevented you from completing a task or makes it difficult for you to concentrate in class, I can help. If you don’t tell me, I won’t know you need help. Many conflicts can be solved OR—better yet—prevented through communication.

Consequences (for not fulfilling expectations)

Every situation is different, but consequences may include a verbal warning, an immediate, after-class, or after-school conference, parent contact, or an on-the-spot consequence that hasn’t even been invented yet!

The typical process will look something like this …

First Warning – I will give you a REMINDER of the rules or an INSTRUCTION.

Second Warning – I will give you an INTERACTION (reminder of the previous instruction). This could result in an after-class or after-school conference, a call home, an after-school detention OR a combination of these things.

Third Warning – You will be sent to the office to speak with an administrator about further consequences. Please note: I STRONGLY DISLIKE OFFICE REFERRALS. Please don’t force me to refer you to the office. Seriously. I hate it. Let’s just handle our business here in Room 1004.


In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.

-Eric Hoffer


Personal Digital Devices

I love technology! I really do! That being said: There is a time and place for its use in education. Sometimes we will use our digital devices for a learning activity, but you should not get them out unless I’ve invited you to do so. Sometimes I will give you time to listen to music on your personal device (with earbuds). However, during class instruction or group work, you should not have earbuds in. Please do not text or make phone calls during class.


For grades to have real meaning, they must be relatively pure measures of each student’s achievement of the learning goals.

-Ken O’Connor


Grading: Assignments in this class are categorized and the categories are weighted as follows:

Quarter Grades


D-DIAGNOSTIC (pre-assessments): not graded

F-PRACTICE/FORMATIVE (homework, in-class practice, quizzes): 10%

R-DAILY READING (preparedness and participation): 5%


H-HEAVY STUFF (tests, projects, papers): 75%

–> To figure your quarter grade, use this formula:

(F X .10) + (R X .05) + (B X .10) + (H X .75) = quarter grade



D-DIAGNOSTIC (pre-assessments– not graded): 0%

F -PRACTICE/FORMATIVE (homework, in-class practice, quizzes): 25%

H-HEAVY STUFF (tests, quizzes, projects): 25%

PREP-Pinnacle Project Preparation:25%

PRES-Pinnacle Project Presentation: 25%

–> To figure your quarter grade, use this formula:

(F X .25) + (H X .25) + (PREP X .25) + (PRES X .25) = quarter grade

Grade Scale

Regardless of point value, every assignment’s grade is calculated using the standard Waverly grading scale below with a twist.

100-94% = A

93-86% = B

85-78% = C

77-below = NOT DONE


8/8 = 100% (A)                 458/458 = 100% (A)

5/7 = 71% (not done)             57/93 = 61% (not done)

18/20 = 90% (B)             1500/3000 = 50% (not done)

91/123 = 74% (not done)         852/1025 = 83% (C)

Not Dones (Where are the D’s and F’s?)

Instead of settling for almost failing (a D) or failing (an F), I prefer to push you to constantly seek improvement. This means I may from time to time ask you to engage in a redo. This does not mean that, if you do not do an assignment, test, or project; do not attempt to improve your score; or do not study for a test and fail to meet its objectives that you cannot earn a D or F, because you certainly can, but I will do whatever I can to ensure your continual growth.


The consequence for a student who fails to meet a standard is not a low grade but rather the opportunity—indeed, the requirement—to resubmit his or her work.

-Doug Reeves



Sometimes a redo will be presented to you as an option and sometimes it will be a requirement. If you ever want to redo something, and I don’t offer you the opportunity, just ask. I may allow you to do so; I may not. There are many factors that will go into that decision. However, it is always worth your time to ask because communicating with your teachers is one of your jobs! Even if I say “no”, your self-advocacy shows that you care and this will be duly noted. Aside from that, if you don’t advocate for yourself, who will? Any time you can practice advocating for yourself you should because soon you will be entering the world outside public education and this is truly the one time in your life when you can practice in a safe environment, where pretty much everyone has your best interest at heart.  After graduation, self-advocacy will become a must.

Extra Credit

I do not offer extra credit assignments. If you keep up with the assigned work, study before tests, use class time wisely, and advocate for yourself when you need help, you will be happy with your grade.

Rationale for Grading System and Policies

I believe that grading should reflect the learning that has taken place during a quarter or semester, rather than the practice you have done or the extra credit you have crammed in at the eleventh hour or which has nothing to do with the learning goals. In other words, I don’t feel that it is fair to equate a large chunk of your grade to practice, or behavior that is not directly linked to the knowledge and skills you are trying to master. I believe that the most important part of your grade is what you demonstrate at the end of the quarter or semester, after you’ve had a chance to practice (and hopefully master) the knowledge and skills you’ve been practicing while receiving guidance and feedback from me. However, I also realize that acknowledging the practice you complete is important as well, so I do that with a grade.  However, it is a small percentage of your overall quarter grade.  This way, if someone screws up on her/his homework, it won’t destroy his/her grade. Conversely, students who go through the motions of daily work without truly committing to mastering the knowledge and skills will demonstrate this in her/his final work. I’m challenging you to legitimately show me what you’ve learned and your grade will reflect your true achievements.


I know there is strength in the differences between us and I know there is comfort where we overlap.

– Ani DiFranco


Class Activities, Assignments and Deadlines

In honor of all of our brilliant differences, which include strengths, gifts, challenges, interests, and levels of readiness, there will be times when you and your classmates may be engaged in different activities. I will often pre-assess you to find out about these things. On many days, all students will be engaged in the same text or task; on other days you will be able to choose what is best for you; and there will be times when I choose for you based on the pre-assessment information. There may be class periods when I work with individuals or small groups, so you may be working directly with me, with peers, or independently. Know that when you notice that you are reading a different text than your classmates, performing a different task than your neighbor, or turning in an assignment on a different due date than the rest of the class, this does not make one learner better than the other – only different! We have to give everyone what they need when they need it. If there is ever something you want me to know about your learning, please tell me.

Bell Ringers

Each day, there will be some sort of activity to start off class. I will either deliver the instructions as you enter the classroom or I will write them on the board. When you arrive, you should open your notebook and dive into the activity. You will be held accountable for this work and practice through a quiz. I will give you a warning before the quiz is to take place.


Sometimes we cannot complete everything that we need to in a single class period and in that case, homework may be assigned. When I give you homework, I will attach a due date to it. I realize that you have plenty of commitments that extend beyond my classroom, but I only give assignments that I feel will help you master the concepts and skills we are working on in class. I do not give “busy work.” Therefore, if I feel something is valuable enough to assign as homework, I expect it to be done on the due date. On some days, I may ask some of you to do one thing and others another. On other days, I may ask some of you to do something others won’t have to do (that day). This ties directly to what I said earlier about differing tasks.

Make-Up Work

If you know you will be absent, please work with me to get your work in prior to your absence or immediately upon your return. If you are in a sport or activity, or going on a family vacation, this policy is designed specifically for you (though there are other reasons why you might know of your absences ahead of time). If you are unexpectedly absent, please talk to me about what you missed and make-up deadlines. If you are absent for a significant period of time, I may draw up a work contract for us to ensure we are clear with a timeline for work to be made up. I will always work directly with you to negotiate a manageable make-up deadline.

Incomplete Assignments

If the occasion ever arises that you have not completed your homework or project by its due date, you will be expected to come in after school on the day it is due or on the day after it is due (or another reasonable time negotiated by you and me) to work with me to complete the assignment. You will need to stay a minimum of  15 minutes, but may be required to stay longer or come in on multiple days depending on the assignment. There may be situations in which I ask you to turn in what is done as is too. If you choose not to come in with me after school, you will receive an office referral. Have I already mentioned that I DO NOT LIKE office referrals?

Keep in mind, that there are unique situations that create exceptions to this standard policy. For instance, if you are assigned a reading and you choose to not complete the reading, and a reading-comprehension quiz is given, you cannot make up this type of work and the score you earn, even if it is a zero, will be entered into the grade book. Sustained Silent Reading and book reports are also handled uniquely.

If you have a situation that will prevent you from completing something on time, please see me immediately. I am a reasonable person, but I can only be reasonable if I have a clear picture of why you are unable to comply with the deadline. (Communicate; communicate; communicate. <— Have you noticed a theme emerging here?)

Sustained Silent Reading (SSR)

We will read for 10 minutes every day. You must have your independent reading book with you every day. If you want to leave it in the classroom, you may, but you have to have it completely read BEFORE the end of the quarter, so you will probably have to take it home sometimes. In order to score SSR points, you must bring a book and read it for the 10-minute duration. In order to receive credit for the books you read, you must choose a book from the class reading list or have your book or reading material approved by me, and complete a book review through the school library. We will discuss this in more detail later. Because SSR and book talks are quarter-long endeavors, the grading policy is unique.  For SSR, you must have your approved SSR book with you on SSR days AND you must read it during the time provided. If you don’t do one or both of these things, you will not earn points for that SSR session. This cannot be made up.


In four words: Do NOT do it.


There is much difference between imitating a man and counterfeiting him.

-Ben Franklin



Plagiarism is commonly defined as using someone else’s work and passing it off as your own.  This can happen in several ways.  Here are two ways that it usually manifests:

  • Someone copies something from the internet or another student’s paper and pastes it into a document, presenting it as his/her own original work.
  • Someone uses another person’s idea from a magazine article, book, another student’s paper, or internet source in her/her paper, but doesn’t give the source proper credit.

These are only examples though. Many forms of plagiarism exist and it is important that you avoid it. The best way to do this is to create your own original work, or to cite all of your sources when drawing from other somewhere other than your own mind. It’s not a bad idea to have a peer or a trusted adult glance over something that you suspect may fall into the category of plagiarism. This is a serious issue because it is something that potentially could have legal or personal consequences later in life.

Students caught plagiarizing will be required to redo the paper or assignment. A learning contract will be drawn up to outline the timeline and expectations of the redo. You may be required to do this after school (on multiple days) under teacher-supervision, depending on the situation. You will also suffer a grade penalty.


I would prefer even to fail with honor than to win by cheating.




Cheating, like plagiarism, is something that can be broadly defined, but for this class, we will define it as any act of dishonesty designed to gain unfair advantage on a class assignment, activity, or test.  Some common examples of cheating include:

Someone copies another’s test or assignment.

  • Someone allows another to copy his/her test or assignment.
  • These are just examples, and there are plenty of others, but you (obviously) should avoid this type of dishonest behavior.

Students caught cheating may receive no credit for the assignment, test, or quiz, and will be asked to write a letter home explaining what has happened. The same applies to a student who allows another student to cheat from his/her work.


Did you know that our district foundation offers grants for student project ideas? Do you have an idea? Let me know. I’ll work with you to apply.


IN CLOSING, I will always push you to stretch yourself as a student, to experience literature, theater, and real world texts in new ways, to capture your thoughts in writing, to think, reflect, solve problems, to BE creative, to take risks in learning and to be exactly who you are –not who you used to be–not who others think you are– but who you are TODAY.


Become who you are.

-Friedrich Nietzche

Do you have questions? Never hesitate to ask!

Welcome to our class! I look forward to working with you.


One thought on “Classroom Policies

  1. Usually these policies live only on paper and are the “private domain” of each teacher. I commend you for making these publicly available and for embedding your philosophy into them – going deeper to explain WHY your classroom lives by these agreements. The quotes you’ve included are an added thought-bonanza. Very powerful and something I’ll be sharing profusely!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *