Leavetakings Part Three: On the Brink of the Aftermath

I may look calm, but inside, my emotions are raging like the flash rainfalls of the Miami hurricane season.

Today, I had a joyous moment. One that teachers always hope to have. I got to call one of the students who is closest to me and tell him, on his birthday, that he passed his graduation qualifying standardized test. His mother promptly texted me that she was sitting at her job crying tears of joy. I told her that I was so proud of all he had done over the course of the year to stay on track. He will move forward, taking honors English and not ever stepping foot in the reading hallway again.

But what about all the other students who did not pass, which is sadly the majority of my students who started way far behind the starting line? Did they, suddenly, become part of a category of people who did not try this year? Does it negate reading level and writing growth that I saw all year? Or their growing love of learning?

I feel like I’m on a precipice that is going to slowly crumble and hurtle me forward into the unknown. And the worst part is that the unknown are my students. It hurts that the year ended with less than ideal scores for our literacy department, and that many students now have to hear that they did not pass. They will be sitting in a retake class in a dark hallway where they amount to numbers on a scoreboard–optimism draining into the tile floors. The job of telling good news is always easy, always wonderful. The job of cutting into students who left the year on a high note from tests imposed by people who know nothing of what it means to push students forward–well, that isn’t a job at all.

The biggest blow was earlier today when I had a student text me asking if he passed. When I didn’t get a chance to respond right away, he sent a second text that said “Are you disappointed in me?” I may never have been hit by words harder in my two years of teaching.

In the end, I don’t know the right choices or the right answers. I only know choices made and answers that are right for right now, and the words from a quote shared by two dear friends today: “All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another”


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