Being a good teacher is not easy, especially when there are certain rules and regulations that you're forced to follow that you may not believe in.
When I was teaching at a private elementary school, I was told by the principal that I couldn't fail students, even if they refused to hand in assignments and participate in class.
The administration staff's explanation was that parents are paying lots of money for their students to go to this school, and because of this, teachers are not allowed to hold them back.
But what about public schools? You'd think these teachers would have much more leeway, but you couldn't be more wrong.
One Florida teacher had to learn this the hard way after she was fired for giving zeros to students who didn't turn in their assignment.
Diane Tirado has been teaching for many years.
In August, she got a new job at West Gate K-8 School in Port St. Lucie as an eighth grade U.S. history teacher, but her teaching method raised eyebrows among administrative staff.
When several students didn't turn their explorer notebook project, after giving them two weeks to complete, she gave them zeros.
The school has a "no zero" policy, and below every grading rubric, it states in bold red lettering: "NO ZEROS - LOWEST POSSIBLE GRADE IS 50%."
"But what if they don’t turn it in, and they say we’ll give them a 50? Oh no we don’t,” Tirado said, after asking administrators about this rule.
Just a few weeks after the new school year started, Tirado was terminated.
On her last day at the school, Tirado wrote this message on the whiteboard, which was later shared on her Facebook page.
"Bye Kids, Mrs. Tirado loves you and wishes you the best in life! I have been fired for refusing to give you a 50% for not handing anything in."
Because Tirado was still in her probationary period, there was no explanation in the termination letter on exactly why she was fired.
And because of this, she may not be able to sue the school or get help from the teachers' union.
That being said, Tirado doesn't regret taking a stand for what she believes in.
"A grade in Mrs. Tirado’s class is earned," she said.
"I’m so upset because we have a nation of kids that are expecting to get paid and live their life just for showing up and it’s not real," she added.
Tirado is sharing her story on Facebook, which has now gone viral, and hopes she can change this policy.
"The reason I took on this fight was because it was ridiculous. Teaching should not be this hard. Teachers teach content, children do the assignments to the best of their ability and teachers grade that work based on a grading scale that has been around a very long time. Teachers also provide numerous attempts to get the work collected so they can give a child a grade. By nature, most teachers are loving souls who want to see students succeed. We do above and beyond actual teaching to give them the support they need. Are we perfect? NO. We make mistakes like all other human beings, but I know teachers work their butts off to help children to be the best people they can be!!!"
Many people on Facebook are siding with the teacher, and believe she shouldn't have been fired:
"Is that for real? I'd be out of a job also," wrote a teacher.
"A teacher should have the right to decide the grade a child receives. If they simply do not turn in the work, an F they should receive ... If you start handing out 50% to everyone that does not turn in their work, what example does that teach? The child needs to be held accountable for the work they do not turn in," one Facebook user commented.
"I’m so sorry you have to deal with all of this! I fully support you. If nothing is turned in I absolutely think a zero is deserved. By giving them credit for not turning anything in I think teaches them the wrong lesson that can be applied to many aspects in life. Hang in there," another chimed in.
This isn't the first time a teacher has been fired for giving zeros. But in this case, the teacher fought back and won.
Lynden Dorval, a former physics teacher at Ross Sheppard High School in Edmonton, Canada, was suspended in 2012 for handing out zeroes to students who failed to hand in their work.
This school also had a "no zero" policy, so his teaching method landed him in hot water.
Less than a week after his termination, Dorval was offered a new job at a private school.
"Our evaluation policy is generally left up to the teachers," Peter Mitchell, head of Tempo School, who hired Dorval, told CBC. "I think students here wouldn't be surprised to get a zero if they didn't do their work."
Dorval also won his case in court and was compensated for his termination, which included two years’ salary and an increase in his pension.
“I knew that what I did was right and whether it was legal or not it was the right thing to do and the support of family, friends and colleagues, and former students even, really has helped get me through this,” he told Global News.
Perhaps Tirado's viral story will be able to land her a new job, or change the way some schools handle students who don't turn in their work.