The One That Got Away
Unlike most teachers, I'm pretty sad that today was my last day of school. It's always bittersweet for me losing one class and getting another. This year marks the third year I've bid adieu to a class and sent them on their way to fourth grade. I also have to honestly say this is the best class I've had yet and although I don't know specifics, I know what's coming up isn't that great, so that makes me nervous, too.
The worst part of today though was having to tell one kid in my class that he was retained AND he'd be going to another school. All of the kids get their report cards at the end of the day with the room number where they will be going (subject to change, of course). This one student is a really good kid, but there's something very childlike and different about him that is blatant if you are in his company for more than ten minutes. He tries his best and manages to complete his work, but not without a lot of help and a lot of extra time and coddling.
Basically he's the kind of kid that teachers like me look at and shake their heads in disbelief, wondering how he got dis serviced by making it to the third grade to begin with. After many meetings with mom, we established that he needs a lot of extra help in order to succeed. We also tried to delicately approach the subject of getting him tested. It's a tricky topic where I work because technically, a request like that has to come from the parent. The trickiest part is that most of the parents in my district are just not educated or informed enough to know they can make such requests. Even those who do know don't know where to begin. But testing itself is a long process so getting the ball rolling sooner rather than later is key.
Unfortunately, in order to force the issue testing wise, the only way a teacher can do that in my district is to retain the child. This way the "intervention" of retention has already been tried. Then if a child still does not show success, they can move into testing on their own. I think it's a ridiculous system that wastes valuable time in a child's progress, but I have to play the game in order to hopefully help the child in the long run. It's a gamble though. There's no way to know for sure if the decision you made was the right one and justifying a retention to a child who really does try his hardest is so hard to do.
I contacted the guidance counselor, who normally is excellent, hoping she could take him aside to talk to him for a few minutes about the retention. Surprisingly she told me not to talk to him about it and since he'd be starting in a new school next year (his address dictates he goes to a different school) he could start fresh there without anyone knowing he had been retained. I still felt the news itself should have been delivered in a much more delicate manner than the way I was forced to do it.
I tried to hold off giving report cards at the end of the day for as long as I could. On the report cards, we are to write which room a child is going to and if they are going to fourth grade. Once this child realized he was not going to fourth grade or be in or school, he looked like he was in shock. Once the initial shock wore off, however, he just started bawling. It was horrible. Everyone in the class knew by this point he had been retained, and he had virtually no time to process this before heading out the door. I hated it. I walked with him down the stairs, but he just wouldn't stop crying. I can't blame him as I wanted to cry for him, too.
About 20 minutes later, an announcement came over our loudspeaker that they were looking for him. Apparently his dad came to pick him up. He swore that the child never walks alone, but all of our kids are walkers so I have no idea who they walk with and when. Now I'm imagining him wandering the streets aimlessly, so upset about what happened. Not only did this child get retained, and walk out upset, I had to leave with the knowledge that his whereabouts are unknown. It's just a horrible situation all around.
So please forgive me if I don't get the chance to visit your blogs today, but know that I am coming around soon. It's better that you wait till I'm in the mood to have something semi-witty to say anyhow.