(Photo credit: Simply CVR)
“But today, as I moped and wished and regretted and hoped, I remembered Lily. The way she always works hard, even if it is not appreciated and even if her classmates are causing chaos. The way she smiled at me and promised to work harder. The way she didn’t let a disappointing grade crush her spirit. Individual EOG data has not been released, so I don’t know Lily’s final score. I do know, though, that she will eventually overcome her struggles. And I hold onto the same hope for myself.”
-From Lessons from Lily
The floor in the school was shiny, freshly waxed with barely a footprint to mar it.
“You ready for kids to come back?” I asked Mr. Stanly, the custodian who is always looking for a snack and some soda.
“Yeah, Ms. Freeman, I am. It’s too quiet in here.”
I’m coming to ask my new principal a question about pacing for the school year. I’ve spent the last week and a half making a curriculum for social studies and science.
“Hey, Ms. Freeman, I’m so glad to see you today!”
I took a seat in the maroon chair across from his desk. We discussed pacing, I made my request, and we discussed students and the coming school year. As the conversation naturally rolled to a close, I thought to make a second ask:
“Could I see the broken down data for test scores?”
‘Sure Ms. Freeman!” he said, pulling out a bright yellow folder, “it wasn’t what I hoped for, but we’ll work on it.”
I nod as he hands me a folder with my information. I’m shaking as he hands me the list – I already knew my average wasn’t what I hoped – but looking through the list I’m struck with the scores attached to the names. Students like Devon and Robert grew. Others stayed low, and I want a do-over of the year.
And then I saw her name: Lily.
At the end of last year, I saw my overall EOG data, and I was devastated. Less than half my students were on grade level in science. I had never worked harder and I felt that I deserved more than scraping by. I stress ate while some of my roommates friends’ eyed me, noting that I was “going to town on that popcorn.”
But last year, I stopped pitying myself when I remembered my student Lily.
She worked hard in the midst of disappointment and never gave up, even when over and over again the results weren’t favorable.
And so, as I scanned the list, the name I was looking for was hers. When I saw Lily’s score, my heart turned up like a gospel choir.
Level IV: Students performing at this level consistently perform in a superior manner clearly beyond that required to be proficient at grade-level work.
And suddenly it didn’t matter so much that my students had not done well as a whole. Suddenly it didn’t seem like such a crushing defeat. And I don’t say that to absolve myself of responsibility or insinuate that they are unimportant. But when a student like Lily does well, a student that has experienced barrier after barrier after barrier, that has been projected to fail and still works hard and overcomes all of that … that makes the struggle of last year seem very small.
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