The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows.
A Level Results Day can be fraught with emotion. I still develop nerves the night before and convince myself that this will be the year of spectacular failure! During twenty plus years of teaching it is inevitable that your students will sometimes get disappointing or even devastating results, but generally the grades reflect what you expected they would achieve - although not always what they hoped they would get.
This year my nerves were exacerbated by hearing on the radio that the exam boards had been instructed to mark the papers more rigorously. Given the state I get into, this translated at some level in the less rational part of my being as, "They will all have failed". I was well aware that this was entirely unlikely! A quick check of the results at 8am this morning was reassuring. My wonderful Lit group had all done really well and the vast majority had got the grades they needed and wanted. Some of them obviously share my angst ridden approach though as a very able student told me she had been shaking with nerves and anticipating a U grade. She got an A*.
Now that I also have responsibility for pastoral and discipline, I get to see many students who really have missed getting the grades they wanted or needed. I always feel for these students (even when they haven't worked very hard) because it is very difficult to cope with failure and disappointment, especially when you are young and so many of your friends are celebrating or thrilled about going off to university and you feel you have nothing. Failure is difficult to cope with and can provoke emotions such as shame, anger, fear, hopelessness, guilt.
I once read that failure is simply an event and not a person, it is vital to take this approach when dealing with students who have got disappointing grades because they can feel that they are summed up by their results. They may feel what they are, or what their future will be, is defined solely by those grades. On Facebook tonight I read many messages from proud parents whose children have done well. Spare a thought for those students who will go home without good news and who will feel left out of the general celebrations. I do find it hard to leave the memory of them behind.