Thursday, June 07, 2012

Breaking Bad News

My heart is still beating fast. My palms are sweaty.  I think my hands are still shaking a little.

Sounds like how we describe someone in love... but no, this is the result of telling some parents that their daughter isn't passing third grade.

I just got home.  Today was a half day at school. We had our party, signed shirts, got some gifts.  Then all the kids went home and I stayed to clean up and deliver some bad news.  This is the first time as a teacher that I've ever had to retain a student, but what makes it even worse is that they assumed their daughter passed--and told her so yesterday. They thought that no news was good news.  In fact, no news meant no hope.  They didn't get a letter requiring their daughter to take a recuperation test (Honduras' system of allowing students to take a test covering the content of the quarter or the year they failed) because her average was low enough that it wouldn't have helped her.  The school told me to only send a letter home if she needed to take the test, but that, since she didn't, no letter was needed.
Well, that was apparently a mistake because they took it to mean that she passed.  I now see that the school is mistaken in that system. I think letters should be required to go home either way.  Maybe then I would have been spared this incredibly awkward and slightly abusive meeting with parents (well, one in particular) who believe that the first grade teacher ruined and damaged their daughter and it's entirely the school's fault that she can't read.  I wish the thought of repeating a year wasn't so repulsive to them...she would do so well and finally experience some success!  I think they're just going to move her to a school that accepts grades under 70%.

All the experiences that teaching gives me often make me wonder what kind of parent I'll be.  I ask myself, "Will I be like so-and-so's mom, or so-and-so's?"  Will I think that my daughter couldn't possibly be slow in reading, but instead it must certainly be due to the psychological damage she experienced as a child? Will I be the mom that shows up at the classroom door every single morning to take up the teacher's time to clarify or ask or request something for her child?   Will I be the cool mom who invites the teacher for dinner and gives good gifts?  Who knows... but I am grateful for the perspective that teaching has given me.  I don't have any parenting experience, but I do see good and bad examples every day.  Hopefully that will give me a jump start when the time comes. (Which, by the way, won't be for a while!)

Tomorrow is the official last day of school.  We had our party today because I wanted a calmer end to my year with my sweet kids.  Tomorrow I'll give them the owls I made for them!  I hope they like them!
All 19 of them...

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