For weeks, rumors have been swirling. Anticipation was at an all time high. And when we got word that that the news we had been so anxiously anticipating was in the building, there was a mad rush to the source.
My class sat for the state mandated test in mid March of this year. We worked, prepared, drilled, prayed, cried, made concessions, timed, cried some more, found our happy places, and spent many sleepless nights wondering how else we could prepare these children.
In the days leading up to the test, I wondered how the children would react to the test. Would they feel confident? Would they spend the majority of the morning keeping themselves from emptying the contents of their stomachs onto the test? Would they find peace in knowing that we had worked their butts off? Would they feel prepared?
Those questions have been dancing around in my little old head for the last eleven weeks. And even though my own nine year old son sat for the same exact test, I was less worried about him than I was about the children I teach.
Yesterday afternoon, third grade teachers caught wind of the scores. They descended on the main office like hungry vultures.
But everyone was told that we would be told today.
This morning, as I applied my face, I thought twice about wearing mascara, lest I turn into a raccoon upon learning the scores. I decided to live dangerously and made my lashes a little thicker and darker.
Upon getting to school, unloading stuff from the car and taking my junk upstairs to my classroom, I returned to the main office. Armed with my class list and a firm affirmation of NOT walking out without knowing how my children scored, I approached my principal.
As she beckoned me into her office, my co-teacher and I stood, ready. With each name that I said, the scores I heard were just music to my ears. Name after name, reading and math, those scores were worth EVERY single drop of sweat that been exuded over the length of the school year.
The numbers brought uninvited tears.
Tears of joy, relief, pride.
Damn mascara...damn raccoon eyes...
And the tears really flowed for the math scores of some students who had walked into my classroom, terrified of math. Those I had coaxed out of that fear, those who I had demanded so much from. Those that many a time during the school year reminded me of myself at that age.
So scared, feeling stupid as the teacher would explain concepts and I lagged further behind everyone else.
The ones I vowed to reform from math-haters to math lovers.
Those students were the ones that scored the highest on the math. I thought of their reaction when I told them what they had earned. I thought of how they had proven to themselves that they COULD do it.
Because they didn't just score what they had to in order to pass.
They went above and beyond.
And my students' reaction this afternoon was everything that I had hoped for during those dark days of preparation. Their eyes grew wide with disbelief. The uncertain looks were replaced with wide, confident, toothy smiles. They asked to look at them again, perhaps to convince themselves that their eyes were truly not deceiving them.
I am not a braggart. But I am so proud of those children. I am so proud of the determination, consistency, effort and growth they have shown throughout this school year.
And I am SO relieved that the State agrees with me.
And so, for the rest of today, I felt drained.
More than what a teacher typically feels at this point of the school year.
Because you cannot hope and work so hard without giving of yourself.
And I gave.
And it was worth every bit.
***By the way, my son performed just as well as my high achieving students! Happiness and pride all around!