Teaching is a fickle profession.
I left work yesterday completely defeated. My students took a quarterly reading assessment earlier in the week, and the results were discouraging, to say the least. I'm not usually one to worry about standardized tests, but we're getting more pressure than ever to raise these damn test scores, and if nothing else, my pride was wounded. Jerry Maguire was good at closing deals, I like to think I'm good at raising my students' test scores. I drove home in silence, doubting myself, searching for answers.
Another day, a new perspective. One of my former students is a junior at West Point. He's in town for a few days, and he went to talk to kids in the JROTC program at his old high school. Meg works at the school, so I told her to send my regards and invite him to stop by my school if he got a chance. I don't work at the middle school he attended any more, so I didn't expect him to come by, but sure enough, he did. It was probably more of an afterthought, but our Assistant Principal asked if he'd like to talk to some of our students, and without blinking an eye, he agreed.
So today I had the privilege of introducing this amazing young man to my 2nd period students. My students are predominantly Mexican American, many of them from poor families. Here was this dashing (the looks on the girls' faces were priceless), humble, intelligent young man who looks like them, grew up in the same kind of neighborhood, proof positive of what hard work can do. Watching my former student talk to my current students was a sublime experience. It's something I won't soon forget. It's the kind of thing standardized tests can't measure, can't take away. It's why I do what I do.