On Friday, I had to break the test results to my fifth graders. You know, the state standardized reading and math tests? The tests that are so important that every single staff meeting has been about them? The tests that are so important we forced struggling students to stay after school for two hours of tutoring on Tuesdays, Thursdays... and SATURDAYS?
Yes, those test results.
As it's kind of a big deal, I made sure to let the whole class know that:
1. I was proud of them for the amount of effort they put into to taking those tests (and how hard you try is ultimately more important in life than if you pass any one test)
2. They were not under any circumstances allowed to discuss with their classmates whether they passed or failed. [The last thing I want to deal with is boasting and bawling]
So then I broke it to them in a different room, one by one. The kids who passed were gleeful! Most passed at least one of the tests. I had one student who failed both the reading and the math. When I told him, he cried big crocodile tears.
I let the two students who failed the reading test know that I was going to be working with them for the next two weeks (until the state standardized retests) to give them a better chance of passing. We'll be working just the three of us for two hours after lunch (throwing off the rest of my schedule, but whatever, I'm just following orders).
The counselor pulled aside one of my boys to chat about the test results a little later in the day. She was kind enough to relay this conversation to me:
Counselor: "How do you feel about passing the math test?"
Student: "I feel so great. It's like I'm in a new magical place!!"
Counselor: "How do you feel about failing the reading test? I know you tried so hard and even stayed late after school to finish it"
Student: "[sigh] I'm really sad about it. But I'm happy to be working with Mrs. B. I know I will learn a lot from her."
When the counselor relayed this conversation to me (especially that last part), I wondered briefly how appropriate it would be to frame that quote and hang it behind my desk. Or get it embroidered on a pillow. Or printed on a t-shirt.
The most heartwarming type of praise is usually spoken from our students, isn't it?