Teacher Apologies: Part 1

I bet you remember it, no matter how long ago it was since high school – those blessed end of quarter assemblies that got you out of (if you were lucky) your least favorite class. And I bet you remember some rendition of the following: “Will the following students please come to the stage to be recognized for All A or AB Honor roll: … please join me in congratulating these fine students for their hard work.  Keep up the good work; next quarter let’s try harder so we can get more students on the stage.”

We’ve all heard it, and we all know it’s a bunch of bull. The kids who walk up on that stage study an average of about 5 minutes before every test. When are we going to stop congratulating kids for being born with the gift of intellect and a good memory?  When are we going to stop shoving the lie down these kids’ throats that those who work the hardest make A’s?  We all know that’s not how it works.

I’m sorry we say that.

I have an itty bitty little child in my class who probably weighs about 70 pounds. He’s the hardest worker in his class. He has the neatest handwriting, the most thoughtful answers and puts more time and effort into his work than any other child. He’s almost always without fail the last to finish because everything needs to be perfect before he turns it in.

It’s been this child’s goal since the third grade to make the AB honor roll, and right now in my class he has a D…on a ten point grading scale.  When report cards come out next week he won’t be the kid who shrugs his shoulders. He’ll be the kid with the glistening cheeks and the tears dripping off his chin because he never measures up.

But I’ll be damned if I tell that kid to “try harder next time.” “Keep studying; you’ll get it.”  He won’t.

To that precious child of mine, you will probably never make the honor roll. So next to the big old 60 that shows up for English class on your report card, I’m just going to write the things you’re the best at.  And you have a lot of bests. And in all caps at the end I’ll put “GRADES DON’T MATTER.”



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