I hate to be the bearer of bad news. I’ve always been secretly squirmish, actually, and so when I was handing back the papers of a writing test I had set for my students, I cowardly put the failed paper at the back of the pile. But I knew I had to give it back… I just didn’t want to – not with a ‘D’ circled at the top of the front sheet.
I walked back to my desk, bit my lower lip, inhaled a deep breath for confidence’s sake and walked over to the student with the fail grade.
“Erm… I need to speak to you for a minute. Can I speak to you outside?”
I did it. I exhaled and walked out of the classroom to break the news to him that there was a strong possibility that he would fail the course. There was no way that I could give him a pass for him to move up to the next level, when he struggled with work at the current level.
The strange thing is, I don’t think he was at all shocked, maybe disappointed, but not shocked. He admitted that he had no time to study outside of class (which was so very obvious from the work he produced) and I gently told him that it was a requirement for him to succeed in learning English. There is only so much guidance that I can give; he’s going to have to take hold of the reigns himself.
I felt so bad that I had to apologise afterwards and say that I hoped he wasn’t upset with me. Gosh, I’m such a weakling, but I know that he is probably hurt in some way (I mean, who likes to fail a course?) and a part of me feels that I contributed to it. But as my warrior-sister would say, “You need to man-up, man!”
– The Londoner