As I grade essays and listen to one of my brighter students snore softly because he finished his exam early, watch another play a game on his phone, and the rest working very hard on my exam, I reflect on how thankful I am for my job. I have good kids. Not always the most motivated, organized, positive, or worldly students, but polite and hard working when it counts – like on a semester exam. Normally test days are really stressful for me, constantly pacing around to keep eyes on individual papers and heads on task. Not for finals – they are extremely diligent workers. I’ve never seen some of them work so hard.
For those that studied, their scores look good. There are, however, always those few very hard workers who I know will still not be successful. Some of them are just my low-skilled readers; the assessment included the Longfellow poem “The Rainy Day.” One of my girls was stuck on a question that asked about the rhyming scheme of the third stanza:
Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.
She waved me over to insist that only lines 3 and 4 rhymed, and there was no multiple choice option for ABCCD. What do you do as an English teacher on test day when your student mispronounces “repining”, and you find your sad heart re-pinning over the rain? Because it’s true, repinning and shining don’t rhyme. I did enjoy another girl’s analysis of Longfellow’s symbolism that references “poem writers.” Apparently poets just don’t get any credit anymore.
I got another student gift today – a bag of Lindt Lindor white chocolate truffles, because she knows I keep a stash of really nice chocolate in my desk for students (and me) who are having bad days. A fellow teacher gave me chocolate-covered pretzels. If these are the rewards of being a high school teacher – copious amounts of good chocolate – I think I shall continue in this profession.