I handed back some calculus tests today that weren’t so pretty. I very, very rarely reprimand classes after passing back tests. But, I felt this particular test was completely doable, and–in general–I felt my classes really let themselves down by their underperformance.

So I told them that. I told them that in general, I was disappointed. And while, yes, there would be recovery options {this time}, that they really needed to improve their study skills.

What’s so tough about conversations like these though is you know there are kids who really did study, who worked hard the entire unit, and still didn’t perform like you or they were hoping.

I have one lovely girl who did everything right. She spent hours of her own time in my room getting extra help. She didn’t procrastinate. She worked and re-worked the assigned problems. And then, it just didn’t show on test day.

Once the bell rang to dismiss class, I made a b-line for her desk, looked her in the eyes, and tried my hardest to convey that the grade on that test did not define her nor her mathematical abilities. That I was so proud of all her effort. That she’s an A+ in my book.

But the tears started falling, and my words must have sounded so flat. I gave her a hug before she left class.

As she was leaving, my co-teacher for my next class was entering. She commented, “I wish I had students that cared so much about their grades that they’d cry over one bad test.”

She’s so right. While days like this can be emotionally draining, I have to remember how lucky I am to have kids like this in my life.


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