open letter to my students

Dear 8th Grade Students of 2009-2010: May 2010
Before I started teaching I wrote myself a letter. In this letter I reminded myself why I wanted to teach, just in case all of you persuaded me otherwise :-). In this letter I told myself the following:
    I am writing this so you remember what it is like to be passionate about your job…You’ll get tired. You’ll get sick of the routine. But so will your students and they’re looking to you to see if you will break this time. Don’t break. Let them know you need their support as much as they need yours. Let them know that you expect the world from them…and don’t ever stop believing that they’ll give you anything less. Don’t ever become too proud to learn from your students.
    When papers stack up to grade, write each comment with compassion, like you always said you would. Your students read your scribbled writing in purple, “Be sure to show not tell and it will make this beautiful story even stronger,” and they also hear in those words, “Someone is still taking the time to believe in you.”
    Above all remember that you love what you do. And remember that nothing done in love is ever wasted.
I hope you have seen a reflection of this in some small way this year. I hope you could tell that I enjoyed teaching you.

I can honestly say that I have enjoyed everyday of this school year. I could not have asked for a better second year of teaching than the year I spend with all of you.

We have shared some great moments this year in 3rd block [this was written per block, obviously, with different highlights]. Whether we were trying to wake up Chase, or you were asking to borrow another pencil, we somehow covered the material and learned something along the way. Even during trips down the hall to Jamestown, or while you begged for more candy or a chance to go back outside, we somehow became, although slightly strange, one big family.

Thank you for writing beautiful words and discussing books deeply. Thanks for all the notes and cards. Thanks for your attempts at improv, your enthusiasm during review games, your beautiful, humorous, and honest poetry, and for understanding the lesson about the writing process [even if it meant feeding you ice cream sundaes J]! Thank you for devoting ten minutes of every day to becoming a better writer, and thank you for teaching me lessons along the way.

Thank you for reminding me of why I love writing, and inspiring me to become a writer again. I will never forget the day you wrote in your writer’s notebooks “Why I Write” [I attached the list so that somewhere down the road if you forget, you can look and remember why you ever filled an entire notebook with your writing in the first place].
 want to leave you with a list that I wrote recently about reasons I love teaching:
- because students trust me with their stories
- because when I am excited, they get excited
- because it puts me in my place
- because I learn something everyday
- because I can fill a room with laughter, fear, or inspiration
- because there are 30 of them in one room, and one me, and I like that challenge
- because I can be goofy and can enjoy their goofiness too
- because I have very few other things in life that I am THIS passionate about
- because I can teach a child the skills necessary to THINK for the rest of their lives
- because I don't ever give up on my students, and they can tell
- because middle schoolers don't quite know who they are, or what they are capable of becoming, but they still believe they can change the world
- because I get to go to work every day and work on a "who" not a "something" or a "what"
- because I will always have them, and they will always have me
- because on days when I think, "Are they really getting anything?!" a student of mine writes that the "lightening ATE THE SKY" or that the "LUMINOUS WIND TICKLED her face"
- because I am reminded how hard it is to be a teenager on a daily basis; and I am reminded of how little I truly know by their know-it-all attitudes
- because seeing it "stick" is worth the extra hour after school
- because my patience is tested daily
- because a new air freshener is a very big deal
- because we can all pretend to love our "grammar-o-fun!"
- because I see a group of misfits become a family over a 9 month period, and realize that they have let me be a part of that family too
- because everyday I can work to become the kind of person my students think I already am

Why do I share that with you now? Because I hope you have been able to tell that I am passionate about what I do; that I have truly enjoyed the time I have spent with you this year. Thank you for reminding me of these reasons. I also share this with you because I hope you have felt listened to and I hope you have felt that your writing is meaningful. I hope that as you continue your education at the high school that you will continue to feel this. And always remember the “nice things” [sidenote: I gave each block a class roster and they had to write "nice things" about everyone in the class and then I typed them up and laminated them as bookmarks for each students and that, along with this letter, were my goodbye presents to them] people said about you. Even after you leave room 130 and SOMS, remember that you have a great story to write…you are a great story…and I have been listening.
I will always remember you and this school year. Best of luck at all you do!


Aunt Linda said...

Lucky, lucky Maysville R-1.

Joan said...

Thank you for sharing your heart with your students
Love Joan

Jillian said...

Hope you all are getting settled in to your new place! We miss you so much already!