I spent the weekend coming up with awards. Little things I've noticed about our students, not all of them academic, not all of them all that great, but all of them phrased in as positive a way as I could. I enlisted the help of the other teachers for the ones I couldn't invent myself. Finally I got them all together, typed them into the computer. Youngster put them on fancy paper and made them look official.
We pulled the kids into a circle. Forty-four faces awaited their awards, some of them we've known all year, an unfortunate rarity in our school, which is on a block schedule so most classes only last a semester. I even typed up awards for the teachers, so everyone was included.
We announced the awards. Kids get excited for this kind of thing, even though they are supposed to be too old to be thrilled by a little piece of paper. It's the details they like. The somebody-noticed-me-in-this-great-big-school effect. Kids we never see smile, smiled when they heard their description tied to their name. Heck, the grown-up para got excited when she got hers.
So it was nice. It was perfect, up until it was all over, and some of the kids said, "Hey, what about XXX", the quietest kid in the room. The kid who likes to answer questions with as non-commital a grunt as he can. He didn't have an award. On the spot, I couldn't do it. My well had run dry. I could think of nothing to say. I didn't have one for him. Either his name got skipped or the award got lost, but the quietest, most invisible, kid got nothing on the day that was supposed to be about noticing every single one of them. Damn.
I thought this thing was going to get me into teacher heaven, but it turns out I'm going to Hell after all.