Thursday, June 10, 2010

Passing, and Getting Beyond Passing

Well, whoopee for Miss Eyre. All my little darlings passed the ELA exam. Not like I had many worries that they wouldn't, but it's nice that it's official.

And with school winding down, I've been talking a lot with my kiddies about the future and reading many of their hopes and dreams for high school. My curmudgeonly self has to admit it's been, well, inspiring. A couple of the girls with whom I worked closely this year talked about high school with shy-but-big smiles, saying they feel prepared to go there and do well. (They're not deluded, either; I think they're ready, too.) One of my male students wrote an essay about making the honor roll for the first time and it literally made me cry. That recognition meant the world to that kid.

I guess I've felt like a failure so much this year that it's been wonderful to be reminded, despite my myriad mistakes, that I was still a force for good, on the balance, in my kids' lives. There's so much more I wish I could have done; I suppose there always is. At the end of the year I always feel like Oskar Schindler at the end of Schindler's List; "I could have got more," he frets, "I didn't do enough." (I'm not saying I put my entire fortune and, indeed, life on the line like Schindler did or anything; that is, I'm not equating myself with him. My martyr complex isn't quite that severe.)

But I did a lot. I'm not going to change everyone's life. But if I, working with my colleagues, was able to bring the lion's share of the kids to a point where they feel excited and confident about moving on to high school, I did all right. I can hold my head up. That's better than passing.